Scoring Your FICO
Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. In reality, the home buying process starts and ends with your finances. Without a reasonable credit score, buying a house is harder and, you could find yourself renting longer than you expected in Davidson until your score improves.
A FICO score is a collection of your years of credit history based on a model developed by Fair Isaac and Company. Most people usually have a score of 650, but scores are tiered from 300 to 850. With the change in the economy, however, some borrowers have seen their score drop by hundreds of points as a result of underemployment, closed credit card accounts, or credit card accounts terminated because the card didn't carry a high balance. Some of the pieces in deciding your FICO score include:
- 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 how much credit you have available?
- Credit Inquiries — How many times has your credit history been accessed by someone other than you?
In reviewing your credit history, you'll discover that you actually have three reports. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — three of the major credit reporting agencies — use a slightly different systems to determine 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 be positive that giving you a loan is a safe move. Your FICO score gives lenders a view of 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. If your score is less than that, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest accrued over time could be more than double the amount of an individual having a higher credit score.
Getting your credit in order is the best way to ease into purchasing a home. Contact us and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.
How do you obtain a stronger score? Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be difficult 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 wisely using credit. The best way to do this is to know your FICO score. You'll improve your credit score by using these pointers:
- Apply for gas station cards or department store credit. For those who have no credit or less-than-stellar credit, department store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to repair credit, increase your spending limits and stay on top of your payments, which will raise your FICO score. You must always beware of holding a large balance for too long because these types of cards normally have a steeper interest rate.
- Use your credit. Whether you're just getting started with credit, or if you've got older cards, be sure to 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.
- Keep up with 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 rebuild your credit this way, but it's the surest way to prove that you're responsible enough to make payments to a lender.
- 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 give extra care 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 holding the maximum and have the rest of your 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 the majority of your debt sitting on one card.
Now that you're more 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 Wilson Realty, shopping for a mortgage can be a stress-free experience so you, too, can achieve home ownership.
To learn more, visit myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and review your credit history for free 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.