Scoring Your FICO
The road to home ownership doesn't start with getting pre-approved for a loan or with choosing a real estate agent. The quality of your wallet starts the home buying process. Putting back your money for a down payment is great, but if you lack an acceptable credit score to back it up, you could find yourself renting for another couple of years in Burlington until your score improves.
A FICO score is a review of your years of credit history based on a model developed by Fair Isaac and Company. Most people usually have a score of 600, but scores are tiered from 300 to 850. In recent years, however, some people have seen their score drop dramatically after job loss, closed credit card accounts, or credit card accounts closed by the lender due to inactivity. Some of the factors in reviewing your FICO score include:
- Payment History — How often do you make late payments?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
- Credit Inquiries — How many times has your credit history been accessed by someone other than you?
- Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of credit cards and loans?
When you pull your credit report, you'll find that you actually have three reports. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — three of the major credit reporting agencies — use a slightly different models to determine your credit rating. FICO is used by Experian. Equifax's model is called BEACON and TransUnion uses EMPIRICA. Because of this, you have three scores, one for each scoring model.
When you apply for a mortgage or any other loan, lenders want to make sure that extending a loan to you isn't a problem. Your FICO score gives lenders an insight into what type of borrower you'll be based solely on your credit history. You'll need a score of at least 740 to get a satisfactory interest rate. You'll still get approved for a mortgage loan with a lower score, but the interest accumulated over time could be more than double that of an individual having a superior credit score.
We're used to working with all levels of credit scores. Contact us and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.
You want a higher score, but how do you get it? Building your FICO score takes time. It can be rare to make a significant change in your credit score with quick fixes, but your score can improve in a few years by keeping tabs your credit report and by using your credit wisely. The most important thing is to know your FICO score. You'll improve your credit score by using these helpful hints:
- Apply for gas cards or chain store credit. For those who have no credit or less-than-stellar credit, department store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to establish your credit history, increase your spending limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your credit. You should always avoid keeping a large balance for too long because these types of cards usually have a surprising interest rate.
- Don't let your cards get dusty. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, use your cards to make sure your accounts stay active. But, be sure to pay them off in no more than two or three payments.
- Stay on top of payments. Your credit score plummets with every account that goes to collections. It's one of the reasons people who have recently been unemployed see the biggest dip in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to build up your credit this way, but it's the most reliable way to show that you're responsible enough to make payments to a bank.
- Correct your credit report. If you find incorrect items on your credit report, write to the bureau requesting that the item be removed. If you have a common name or the same name as a family member, you'll want to pay extra attention to make sure the activity reported is correct.
- Even out your debt. At first, this doesn't seem like a good idea. But, you don't want to have one card that is at the limit and have the rest of your cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at a smaller balance than to have the bulk of your debt sitting on one card.
Now that you're better informed about credit reporting, you'll be able to successfully take the first steps to homeownership, and that is improving your FICO score. Know that when it's time to apply for a loan to purchase a house, you'll want to keep your lender applications within a two-week window to avoid damaging your credit score. With the help of David Massey Real Estate, the loan process is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can achieve home ownership.
To learn more, visit myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and once per year, for free, you can review all three of your credit reports at annualcreditreport.com. And, for a small payment, you can get your FICO score from each bureau on their websites: equifax.com, experian.com and transunion.com.