Scoring Your Credit - How's Your Credit Score
The home buying process doesn't start with getting pre-approved for a loan or with choosing a real estate agent. The content of your wallet begins the home buying process. Without an acceptable FICO score, entering into a loan for a house is harder and, you could find yourself renting for another couple of years in San Diego County until you raise your score.
A FICO score is a collection of your years of credit history based on an instrument developed by Fair Isaac and Company. The score ranges from 300 to 850, with most people traditionally having a score of 650. With the change in the economy, however, some borrowers have seen their score lowered as a result of unemployment, charged off credit card accounts, or credit card accounts that were closed because they don't carry a balance. Some of the pieces in deciding your FICO score include:
- 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?
- Payment History — How many times do you make late payments?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
In reviewing your credit history, you'll see 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. You have a credit score with each of the bureaus.
Lenders want to ensure that allowing you a loan is a safe move. Your FICO score gives lenders a view of what type of borrower you are solely because of your credit history. Because of the shift in the economy, most home buyers should have scores in the range of 740 or higher to get a decent interest rate. If your score is lower, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest paid over time could be more than double that of someone having a better credit score.
Getting your credit in order is the best way to ease into purchasing a home. Contact me
and I 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 difficult to make a significant change in your credit score with small changes, but your score can improve in a year by monitoring your credit report and by using credit extended to you to raise your score, instead of ruin it. The best way to do this is to know your FICO score. You'll improve your credit score by using these helpful hints:
- Keep your cards in rotation. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, be sure to use your cards so that your accounts stay active. But, 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 hit in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to rebuild your credit with payment history, 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 discover mistakes on your credit report, contact the bureau asking 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.
- Spread your debt around. At first, this doesn't sound like a good idea. But, you want to avoid of having one card that is at the limit and have your remaining cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at about 25% of their credit limit than to have the majority of your debt transferred to one card.
- Department Store cards and service station cards. For those who have non-existent credit or less-than-stellar credit, chain store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to get credit, increase your credit limits and stay on top of your payments, which will raise your credit. You should always avoid keeping a high balance for more than a couple of months because these types of cards usually have a steeper interest rate.
Now that you know more about credit reporting, you'll be able to successfully take the first step in owning a home, and that is improving your FICO score. Keep in mind that when it's time to apply for a loan to purchase a house, you'll want to keep your credit inquiries within a two-week window to avoid damaging your credit score. With the help of Priority One Group, the loan application process is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can become a homeowner.
Get more information by visiting www.myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and review your credit history for free 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.
I won't judge you based on your FICO scores and can help you get back into home ownership with the best lender for you. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (760) 742-1200 for additional information.