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 and ends with your finances. To propel your dreams of homeownership forward, you must consider your FICO score along with the type of loan for which you'll qualify in Santa Rosa, California.
The Fair Isaac Company calculates your FICO score on the summary of your total credit history. The score ranges from 300 to 850, with most people normally having a score of 650. In recent years, however, some people have seen their score drop dramatically as a result of underemployment, closed credit card accounts, or credit card accounts closed by the lender due to inactivity. Some of the pieces in deciding your FICO score are:
- Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of loans and credit cards?
- Payment History — How many times do you make late payments?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus how much credit you have available?
- Credit Inquiries — Do you have too many open accounts?
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 systems to calculate 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 bureau.
Lenders want to be positive that allowing 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 740 or higher to get a satisfactory interest rate. You can get approved for a loan with a lower score, but the interest paid over time could be more than double the amount of someone having a better FICO score.
Staying on top of your FICO score is the best way to ease into owning a home. Contact us and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.
You want a stronger score, but how do you get it? Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be hard to make a significant stride change in your FICO score with small changes, but your score can improve in a year by monitoring your credit report and by using your credit wisely. The best way to do this is to know your FICO score. You'll improve your credit score by using these pointers:
- Ensure that your credit history is correct. If you discover incorrect items on your credit report, write to 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 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 a single card.
- Apply for service station cards or chain store credit. For those who have no credit or low credit, department store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to repair credit, increase your credit limits and have a solid payment history, which will raise your credit. You should always beware of charging a high balance for too long because these types of cards more than likely have a surprising interest rate.
- Use your credit. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, be sure to use your cards to make sure 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 where people who have recently experienced job loss see the biggest dip in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to build up your credit with payment history, but it's the surest way to prove that you're able to make payments to a lender.
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 home, you'll want to keep your applications within a two-week window to avoid a negative mark on 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.
Learn more about FICO scores at 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.