So, you want to buy a house but your credit – and your credit score – quite frankly stinks. Now what?

As rents continue to rise and home values are on the upswing, many say this is a good time buy a home.  However, don’t let poor credit keep you out of the real estate market quite yet; there is still the possibility of calling a new place ‘home sweet home.’

Here are some tips that might help as you begin the home buying journey via working with a credible mortgage lender or financial expert:

Credit: The Higher the Better Needed

Bottom-line: Your credit score determines if can get approved for a mortgage, as well as what your interest rate will be. Higher credit scores will obviously give you more mortgage options. Check what yours is before sitting down with a lender or financial expert.

Talk Credit Issues with Your Mortgage/financial expert

Do discuss with your mortgage lender/financial expert your concerns about your credit score. It could be that your credit score is due to identity theft or previous challenges that no longer hinder your financial stability. Have on hand and present payment records and other documentation that verifies your case for a possible home loan.

Fix Credit Errors

Review your credit report and make sure it is accurate, and complete. Keep in mind that the balances shown may be slightly off due to recent payments not yet recorded. If you do find an error, you can send a written dispute letter to get it fixed. This is always worth the effort since it could raise your credit score and potentially offer you more loan options.

Put Down a Bigger Down Payment

There is always the option of putting down a larger down payment to make up for a low credit score. This makes you less risky to your lender/financial expert because you will have more invested in the house and be less likely to walk away.

If you don’t have the cash for a large down payment maybe you have an asset that you can liquidate without taking a big loss. For example, perhaps your retirement account could be a source of cash for your down payment.

Another way to fund your down payment: Ask a relative for a monetary gift. However, this can be tricky as the amount of gift money you use can actually affect the mortgage type for which you qualify. Ask your lender or finance expert for advice on this.

Perhaps a Higher Interest Rate

If your credit score is high enough, you could apply for a mortgage and accept a higher interest rate. If you rebuild your credit in the next few years, you could refinance your home at a lower interest rate.

Get an FHA Loan

You may also qualify for an FHA loan with a low score.  An FHA loan may also be beneficial because it allows for a co-borrower who does not reside in the home help out. Ask a trusted friend or relative to co-sign your loan to help you become a new homeowner.

Maybe It’s Not Time

Be realistic; if it isn’t the right time for you to own a home, continue to rent for a couple more years as you rebuild and stabilize your credit score.

In the end, try not to let a low credit score halt you from buying your first home, but do be abreast of where you stand.  Start by finding out where your credit falls and then check with a reputable mortgage lender or financial expert to explore your options.