How's Your FICO?
Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. In reality, the home buying process begins and ends with your finances. Without a reasonable credit score, buying a house is more difficult and, you could end up renting longer than you expected in Albemarle, North Carolina until your score improves.
The Fair Isaac Company calculates your FICO score on the summary of your total credit history. Most people usually have a score of 650, but scores range from 300 to 850. Job loss has been common in the last few years, but FICO scores aren't necessarily adjusted "on a curve." A low score is a low score and that often means you can't get a decent interest rate. 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 — Do you pay your bills on time ?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
In reviewing your credit history, you'll find 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. You have a credit score with all of the bureaus.
When you apply for a mortgage or any other loan, lenders want to make sure that extending a loan to you isn't a risk. Your FICO 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 740 or higher to get a satisfactory interest rate. You can qualify for a loan with a lower score, but the interest paid in the long run could be more than double that of an individual with a near perfect credit score.
We're used to working with all tiers of credit scores. Call us at (704) 985-6817 and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.
How do you obtain a higher score? Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be rare to make a significant change in your FICO score with small changes, but your score can improve in a year or two by monitoring your credit report and by using your credit wisely. The most important thing 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 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 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 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 about less than 40% of their credit limit than to have the majority of your debt taking up the balance one card.
- Apply for gas cards or store credit. For those who have no credit or low credit, retail credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to establish your credit history, increase your credit limits and have a solid payment history, which will raise your credit. You should always beware of carrying a large balance for too long because these types of cards usually have a surprisingly high interest rate.
- Keep your cards active. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, use your cards to make sure your accounts maintain an active status. But, pay them off in one or two payments.
- Stay on top of payments. How often you're late with payments greatly affects your credit score. It's one of the reasons people who have recently experienced job loss see the biggest hit in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to restore your credit with payment history, but it's the most reliable way to show that you're responsible enough to make payments to a lender.
Knowing the methods you can use to raise your FICO score, you can move toward becoming a homeowner. Know 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 a negative mark on your credit score. With the help of Glen Alford Realty, the loan process is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can become a homeowner.
Learn more about FICO scores at 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.