Low credit scores don’t have to hold you back from getting a mortgage.

Credit scores can be the difference between getting a good interest rate on a mortgage or in some cases even getting a mortgage at all. Most housing markets throughout the country favor sellers at the moment because there are so few listings available so buyers have an extra obstacle of needing to come with a solidly underwritten offer in order to remain competitive. But what if you don’t have a great credit score? Or have recently left your job and have a gap in income? Luckily more and more lenders are willing to look at non-traditional ways of determining if someone is a low risk for defaulting on a loan. Bruce Marks, CEO of the non-profit NACA that provides loans to low credit score borrowers, says his company relies on non-traditional credit metrics frequently so I spoke with him to get an idea of what lenders are looking for.

Rental Income: This is one lenders will look to first so this is the top priority for making sure you have a documented history of on-time payments. If you and your better half are planning on applying for a mortgage together it may make things easier if you have a joint account in both your names so that the rental payment can be attributed to both of you (even if you don’t contribute equally to the total rent amount). “If you put everything aside the best indicator of whether someone can ready for home ownership is on time rental payments,” says Marks. He says his company looks at the past two years, but focuses more closely on the last twelve months of payments.

Child support/Alimony payments: Another solid indicator of someone being financially responsible is payments to an ex-spouse. But make sure any changes to the monthly payments have a documented explanation (random example: if you and your ex agree that you’ll pay for all of summer camp and travel for the kids rather than paying child support directly to your ex, make sure you have the bill from summer camp in your files so you can show a lender you didn’t skip out on payments for a…