Improving Your FICO Score for Home Ownership
Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. The content of your wallet starts the home buying process. Putting back your money for a down payment is a good idea, but if you lack an acceptable credit score to back it up, you could end up renting longer than you expected in Covina, California until your FICO score is acceptable.
A FICO score is a review of your years of credit history based on an instrument developed by Fair Isaac and Company. Most people usually have a score of 600, but scores range from 300 to 850. Since we've experienced an economic downturn, however, some borrowers have seen their score drop by hundreds of points after unemployment, delinquent credit card accounts, or credit card accounts terminated because the card didn't carry a high balance. Some of the factors in determining your FICO score are:
- Credit Inquiries — Do you have too many open accounts?
- Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of credit cards and loans?
- Payment History — How many late payments have you made?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
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 models to calculate your credit rating. FICO is used by Experian. Equifax's model is called BEACON and TransUnion uses EMPIRICA. This means you have three scores, one for each scoring model.
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 solely because of 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. You'll still get approved for a mortgage with a lower score, but the interest accumulated over the life of the loan could be more than double the amount of someone with a better 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.
There are plans to increase your score. Building your FICO score takes time. It can be hard to make a significant stride change in your number 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. Here are some methods to improve your credit score:
- Spread your debt around. At first, this doesn't sound 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 less than 40% of their credit limit than to have all of your debt sitting on a single card.
- Chain store cards and gas cards. For those who have non-existent credit or low credit, department store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to improve credit, increase your credit limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your credit. You must always beware of carrying a high balance for too long because these types of cards traditionally have a higher interest rate.
- 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 so that your accounts maintain an active status. But, make sure you pay them off in one or two payments.
- Keep up with payments. Your FICO score plummets with every account that goes to collections. 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 restore your credit this way, but it's the most reliable way to prove that you're able to make payments to a bank.
- 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 pay extra attention to make sure the activity reported is correct.
Now that you're better informed 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 applications within a two-week window to avoid adverse effects on your credit score. With the help of In Home Realty, the loan process can be a stress-free experience so you, too, can become a homeowner.
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.