How's Your Credit?
The home buying process doesn't start with getting pre-approved by a lender or with choosing a real estate agent. In reality, the home buying process starts with your finances. Without an above average credit score, buying a house is more difficult and, you could end up renting for another couple of years, until your FICO score is acceptable.
A FICO score is a collection of your years of credit history based on a model developed by Fair Isaac and Company. The score ranges from 300 to 850, with most people traditionally having a score of 600. 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:
- Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of loans and credit cards?
- Payment History — How many late payments have you made?
- 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?
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. You have a credit score with each of the bureaus.
Lenders want to make sure that giving you a loan is a safe move. Your credit 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 740 or higher to get a decent interest rate. If your score is less than that, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest paid over the life of the loan could be more than double the amount of someone having a better credit score.
Staying on top of your FICO score 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 boost your credit score? Building your FICO score takes time. It can be rare to make a significant stride change in your number with small changes, 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. Here are some methods to improve your credit score:
- Ensure that your credit history is correct. If you discover incorrect items 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 pay extra attention to make sure the activity reported is correct.
- Spread your debt around. At first, this doesn't seem like a good idea. But, you steer clear of having one card that is maxed out and have the rest of your cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at about 30% of their credit limit than to have the majority of your debt transferred to a single card.
- Apply for gas station cards or retail credit. For those who have no credit or low credit, store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to establish your credit history, increase your spending limits and have a solid payment history, which will raise your credit. You must always beware of keeping a large balance for more than a couple of months because these types of cards normally have a larger interest rate.
- Use your credit. Whether you're just getting started with credit, or if you've got older cards, use your cards to make sure your accounts maintain an active status. But, make sure you pay them off in no more than two or three payments.
- Stay on top of payments. Payment history is a big factor in your FICO score. 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 this way, but it's the most reliable way to show that you're responsible enough to make payments to a bank.
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 you're ready to apply for a loan to purchase a house, you'll want to keep your lender applications within a two-week window to avoid adverse effects on your credit score. With the help of Porto Real Estate Group, the loan process can be a stress-free experience so you, too, can achieve home ownership.
Get more information by visiting www.myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and you can review all of your credit reports for free each year 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 levels of credit history and can help you step into home ownership with the right mortgage lender for you. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (203) 783-8718 for more information.