Improving Your FICO Score for Home Buying
Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. In reality, the home buying process begins with your finances. Without an above average FICO score, purchasing a house is harder and, you could end up renting longer than you expected in Fall River, Massachusetts until you improve your score.
The Fair Isaac Company calculates your FICO score on the summary of your total credit history. The score ranges from 300 to 850, with the majority of people traditionally having a score of 650. Even though more people these days are experiencing job loss and delinquent credit cards, 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 factors in calculating your FICO score include:
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus how much credit you have available?
- 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 often do you make late payments?
In reviewing your credit history, you'll discover 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 all of the bureaus.
Lenders want to be positive that giving you a loan is a safe move. Your credit score gives lenders an insight into what type of borrower you are based solely on your credit history. You'll need a score of at least 740 to get a decent interest rate. If your score is less than that, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest paid in the long run could be more than double that of an individual having a near perfect credit score.
We're used to working with all levels of credit scores. 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? Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be hard to make a significant change in your number with small changes, but your score can improve in a year or two by keeping tabs your credit report and by using your credit wisely. The best way to do this is to know your FICO score. Here are some ways you can improve your credit score:
- Don't let your cards get dusty. Whether you're just getting started with credit, or if you've got older cards, be sure to use your cards to make sure your accounts stay active. But, make sure you pay them off in no more than two or three payments.
- Keep up with payments. Late payments hurt your FICO score. It's where people who have recently experienced job loss 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 prove that you're able to make payments to a lender.
- Correct your credit report. If you discover mistakes on your credit report, write to the bureau requesting 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 sound like a good idea. But, you don't want to have one card that is holding the maximum 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 bulk of your debt transferred to a single card.
- Apply for service station cards or retail credit. For those who have non-existent credit or low credit, store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to repair credit, increase your spending limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your FICO score. You must always avoid holding a large balance for more than a couple of billing cycles because these types of cards usually have a higher interest rate.
Now that you're better informed about credit reporting, you'll be able to successfully take the first steps to homeownership, 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 damaging your credit score. With the help of E Z Home Search Real Estate Inc., the loan application process is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can achieve home ownership.
Learn more about FICO scores at myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and you can review all of your credit reports for free each year 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.