Improving Your FICO Score for Home Buying
Most people assume that the home buying process starts with getting pre-approved by a lender or with choosing a real estate agent. In reality, the home buying process begins and ends with your finances. Saving your money for a down payment is a good idea, but if you lack an acceptable credit score to reinforce it, you could find yourself renting for another couple of years in Santa Rosa until you improve your score.
The Fair Isaac Company calculates your FICO score on the summary of your complete credit history. Most people traditionally have a score of 650, but scores range from 300 to 850. With the change in the economy, however, some borrowers have seen their score drop dramatically because of loss of employment, delinquent credit card accounts, or credit card accounts closed by the lender due to inactivity. Some of the factors in calculating 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 loans and credit cards?
- Payment History — Do you pay your bills on time ?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus how much credit you have available?
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 systems to determine your credit rating. FICO is used by Experian. Equifax's model is called BEACON and TransUnion uses EMPIRICA. As a result, you have three scores, one for each scoring model.
Lenders want to make sure that giving you a loan isn't a risk for them. Your FICO score gives lenders an insight into what type of borrower you'd be based solely on your credit history. You'll need a score of at least 700 to get a acceptable interest rate. If your score is lower, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest accrued in the long run could be more than double the amount of an individual having a stronger FICO score.
We're used to working with all tiers of credit history. 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 FICO score with quick fixes, but your score can improve in a few years 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 pointers:
- Keep up with payments. Payment history is a huge factor in your credit score. It's one of the reasons people who have recently experienced job loss see the biggest dip in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to build up your credit this way, but it's the surest way to show that you're responsible enough to make payments to a lender.
- Ensure that your credit history is correct. If you find 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.
- 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 the rest of your cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at about 20% of their credit limit than to have the bulk of your debt taking up the balance one card.
- Apply for gas cards or chain store credit. For those who have non-existent credit or low credit, store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to establish your credit history, increase your credit limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your FICO score. You must always avoid keeping a high balance for too long because these types of cards usually have a surprisingly high interest rate.
- Don't let your cards get dusty. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, use your cards to make sure your accounts stay active. But, be sure to pay them off in one or two payments.
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. Remember that when you're ready 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 Roxanne Mercer Real Estate, the loan application process is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can become a homeowner.
Get more information by visiting myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and once per year, for free, you can review all three of your credit reports 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.