If you're ready to buy a home but have no credit due to your age or to your commitment to a debt- and credit-card-free lifestyle, finding a mortgage lender willing to give you money for a house may seem like an insurmountable obstacle. It's not. You do have options, and while they may take longer to deal with or require more work on your part, you can eventually land a mortgage for a home, if not your dream home. At issue is your lack of credit history and thus a lack of proof that you can handle payments on long-term debt, so you need to find something that either allows you to avoid debt or that allows you to prove your ability to pay through other means.
Pay Cash for a Fixer-Upper
One strategy is to avoid debt and pay cash for something like a cheap fixer-upper manufactured home. Newer manufactured homes are relatively well-built, so if you can find one that just needs a lot of work to update, and you have healthy cash reserves, you could solve your home-buying problems right there. If you're not going to take on payments, your past record of making payments isn't such an issue. Of course, then you have to deal with fixing up the home, which can be costly itself. But it does get you into a home somewhere.
Work With Mortgage Lenders Familiar With No-Credit Lifestyles
Another option is to find lenders who are used to working with people with no credit or bad credit. These lenders often have alternative proof methods like showing that you've made all your rent and utility payments on time for a certain number of years. Or, the mortgage could be through government programs designed to help specific groups such as military members, whose years in service may not have left them with many opportunities to build a lot of credit.
One more option is having more than one name on the mortgage. If you have no credit, but your spouse does, have both names on the mortgage and see if your spouse's credit helps you get money in any way. Sometimes people apply for mortgages in their own name only, even if the spouse is helping make payments, because it's simpler for them during tax time or just in general. In a case where there's no credit, though, adding the spouse's name may help. If you do not have a spouse, another family member may be willing to add his or her name, but keep in mind that this puts them on the hook for the mortgage, too -- so it's worth asking, but don't be surprised if people say no.
Your best bet in general may be to start asking banks that work with no-credit or bad-credit programs about what they offer. They can show you the requirements they have, so you can tell quickly whether or not it would be worth a shot.
For more information, you will want to check out companies such as SWE Homes.