Home buyer's Guide to Better Credit
Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. In reality, the home buying process starts with your finances. Putting back your money for a down payment is a good idea, but if you don't have an acceptable credit score to back it up, you could end up renting for another couple of years in Colorado Springs, Colorado until your score improves.
A FICO score is a collection of your years of credit history based on an instrument developed by Fair Isaac and Company. The score ranges from 300 to 850, with the majority of people traditionally having a score of 600. 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 determining your FICO score include:
- 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 — 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 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. 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 credit score gives lenders an insight into what type of borrower you are 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 satisfactory interest rate. You'll still qualify for a loan with a lower score, but the interest accumulated over time could be more than double the amount of an individual having a better credit score.
Getting your credit in order is the first step in purchasing a home. Call us at (719) 528-6672 and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.
How do you get a higher score? Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be rare to make a significant change in your credit score with small changes, but your score can improve in a year by monitoring your credit report and by using your credit wisely. The most important thing is to know your FICO score. You'll improve your credit score by using these pointers:
- Pay on time. Payment history is a big factor in your credit score. It's one of the reasons people who have recently been unemployed see the biggest hit 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 responsible enough to make payments to a lender.
- Correct your credit report. If you discover mistakes 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 give extra care 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 holding the maximum and have your remaining cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at an even balance than to have the most of your debt taking up the balance one card.
- Chain store cards and service station cards. For those who have no credit or below average credit, retail credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to get credit, increase your credit limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your FICO score. You should always avoid carrying a large balance for too long because these types of cards normally have a larger interest rate.
- Keep your cards active. Whether you're just getting started with credit, or if you've got older cards, use your cards to make sure your accounts stay active. But, make sure you pay them off in one or two payments.
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. Remember that when you're ready 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 Brian L. A. Wess, the loan 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.