How's Your Credit?
Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. In reality, the home buying process starts with your finances. Without an acceptable credit score, purchasing a house is more difficult and, you could find yourself renting for another couple of years in Vista until you raise your score.
A FICO score is a review of your years of credit history based on a model developed by Fair Isaac and Company. The score ranges from 300 to 850, with the majority of people normally having a score of 600. Since we've experienced an economic downturn, however, some borrowers have seen their score drop by hundreds of points because of unemployment, charged off credit card accounts, or credit card accounts closed by the lender due to inactivity. Some of the factors in reviewing your FICO score are:
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
- 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 — How many months do you make late payments?
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. As a result, 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 problem. Your FICO score gives lenders a view of what type of borrower you'd be solely because of 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 accrued in the long run could be more than double that of an individual having a stronger FICO score.
We're used to working with all tiers of FICO 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? Building your FICO score takes time. It can be rare to make a large-scale change in your credit score with quick fixes, but your score can improve in a year or two by keeping tabs your credit report and by using your credit wisely. The most important thing is to know your FICO score. Here are some ways you can improve your credit score:
- Retail cards and service station cards. For those who have non-existent credit or less-than-stellar credit, retail credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to get credit, increase your spending limits and have a solid payment history, which will raise your FICO score. You should always avoid keeping a high balance for too long because these types of cards usually have a steeper 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, make sure you pay them off in no more than two or three payments.
- Keep up with payments. How often you're late with payments greatly affects your credit score. It's one of the reasons people who have recently been unemployed see the biggest dip in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to rebuild your credit with payment history, but it's the most reliable way to prove that you're responsible enough to make payments to a bank.
- Ensure that your credit history is correct. If you find incorrect items 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 steer clear 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 25% of their credit limit than to have all of your debt sitting on one card.
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. Remember that when it's time to apply for a loan to purchase a house, 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 Stoneridge Realty & Property Management Services, the loan application 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 review your credit history for free 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.