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To buy your first home, you likely will need a mortgage. In fact, before you even start looking at houses, you should look into your mortgage prospects.If you have good credit, a healthy income and money in the bank, you’ll be able to securemortgage preapproval quickly and proceed straight to the homebuying process. But if you have less-than-stellar credit, are self-employed or have little cash to bring to the table, you’ll want to start the process way before you look at houses – maybe more than a year before.“You have to get a copy of your credit report,” says Don Frommeyer, chief executive officer of the National Association of Mortgage Professionals and a mortgage broker in Indianapolis. “You have to know what’s in there.”The free credit report you can get annually, while it helps you identify problems, won’t show you the same credit score your mortgage officer will see. “The score is invariably higher than what you get when someone in the mortgage company runs it,” says Casey Fleming, author of “The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage” and a mortgage broker in the San Francisco Bay Area.

That makes meeting with a mortgage officer (or two or three) at the start of the process crucial. In competitive markets, agents won’t even show homes to buyers without mortgage preapproval.Be prepared to produce documents, and lots of them, starting with several years of tax returns and many months of bank statements. Lenders will want proof of your income, and they will want to know about all your debts. They also will want to know the source of any big deposits. If your parents give you money for a down payment, they will need to write a letter documenting that.

I think less than stellar means a little less than high. Based on my perception it means that if the best credit is 800 for instanse and your credit is a little bit less than 700, around 670, then you have a lousy credit for using a mortgage in this case. I think the writer is not saying that if your credit is lousy you cannot buy. Because it is crystal clear that if someone has lousy credit ( less than 400) they are not eligble to be offered a mortgage. The writer is saying if your credit is even a little less than high score , then you would not be eligable. Is my perception right? Million thanks in advance

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A figurative meaning of "stellar" is "excellent" so that "less-than-stellar" means "less than excellent".

Although "less than stellar" can be used ironically (litotes) to mean "pretty bad credit", in this passage it probably refers to borderline cases, not so bad that the application would be rejected outright, but far from being so good that lenders would be competing to lend. It's a vague qualitative term, so a precise number cannot be put on it.

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    One could also interpret less-than-stellar as a polite way of saying "mediocre" without offending the reader. – J.R. May 18 '15 at 15:02
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In the United States, banks use "FICO scores" to quantify the credit-worthiness of borrowers. "FICO" is short for Fair Isaac Corporation, which developed a way to convert the data in a credit bureau report into a number between 300 and 850.

In years when the government and banks are very worried about whether borrowers can pay their bills, most banks treat all FICO scores above 740 as being equally good. In years where the government and banks are less worried, banks may treat all FICO scores above 720 as being equally good. For purposes of the original post's article, a household whose average FICO score meets this 720+ or 740+ threshold has "stellar credit".

The article provides advice for improving a household's FICO score. If the household has "less-than-stellar credit", improving the credit score can result in significant savings when borrowing money to buy a house.

According to this linked article, most American individuals with average or above-average household income have a credit score of 720 or higher. But according to the same article, the average individual credit score is below 700.

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