Scoring Your FICO
The road to home ownership doesn't start with getting pre-approved by a lender or with choosing a real estate agent. In reality, the home buying process starts and ends with your finances. Without a reasonable FICO score, entering into a loan for a house is more difficult and, you could end up renting for another couple of years until your score improves.
The Fair Isaac Company bases your FICO score on the summary of your total credit history. The score ranges from 300 to 850, with the majority of people traditionally having a score of 650. With the change in the economy, however, some people have seen their score lowered because of underemployment, charged off credit card accounts, or credit card accounts that were closed because they don't carry a balance. Some of the pieces in summing up your FICO score are:
- Credit Inquiries — Do you have too many open accounts?
- Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of loans and credit cards?
- Payment History — How often do you make late payments?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
When you pull your credit report, you'll see that you actually have three reports. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — three of the major credit reporting agencies — use a slightly different systems to calculate your credit rating. FICO is used by Experian. Equifax's model is called BEACON and TransUnion uses EMPIRICA. This means you have three scores, one for each bureau.
Lenders want to ensure that giving you a loan isn't a risk for them. Your credit score gives lenders an insight into what type of borrower you'll be based solely on your credit history. Because of the shift in the economy, most home buyers should have scores in the range of 700 or higher to get a satisfactory interest rate. You'll still get approved for a mortgage loan with a lower score, but the interest accrued in the long run could be more than double that of an individual with a better FICO score.
We're used to working with all tiers of FICO scores. Call us at (978) 250-1900 and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.
How do you obtain a higher score? Building your FICO score takes time. It can be difficult to make a large-scale change in your FICO score with small changes, but your score can improve in a few years by monitoring your credit report and by using your credit wisely. The best way to do this is to know your FICO score. You'll improve your credit score by using these helpful hints:
- Ensure that your credit history is correct. 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 want to avoid of having one card that is maxed out and have your remaining cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at about less than 40% of their credit limit than to have all of your debt sitting on a single card.
- Retail cards and service station cards. For those who have no credit or low credit, store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to start your credit history, increase your spending limits and have a solid payment history, which will raise your FICO score. You should always avoid carrying a large balance for too long because these types of cards usually have a larger interest rate.
- Don't let your cards get dusty. Whether you're just getting started with credit, or if you've got older cards, use your cards so that your accounts maintain an active status. But, pay them off in one or two payments.
- Stay on top of payments. Late payments hurt your credit score. 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 with payment history, but it's the surest way to show that you're able to make payments to a bank.
Knowing the methods you can use to raise your credit score, you're one step closer to becoming a homeowner. Remember that when it's time to apply for a loan to purchase a home, you'll want to keep your lender applications within a two-week window to avoid damaging your credit score. With the help of First Team Realty, LLC, the loan application process is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can achieve home ownership.
Learn more about FICO scores at www.myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and once per year, for free, you can review all three of your credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com. And, for a small payment, you can get your FICO score from each bureau on their websites: www.equifax.com, www.experian.com and www.transunion.com.
We work with all tiers of credit history and can help you step into home ownership with the best lending insitution for you. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call (978) 250-1900 for more information.