FICO - The First Step to Owning
You might think that the home buying process starts with getting pre-approved for a loan or with choosing a real estate agent. In reality, the home buying process starts with your finances. To become a homeowner, considering your credit score is a must along with the type of mortgage loan for which you'll qualify in Vista.
A FICO score is a review of your years of credit history based on a model developed by Fair Isaac and Company. Most people usually have a score of 650, but scores are tiered from 300 to 850. Job loss has been common in the last few years, but FICO scores aren't necessarily adjusted "on a curve." A low score is just that and often means you can't get credit extended to you in the form of a mortgage loan. Some of the factors in deciding 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 — Do you pay your bills on time every month?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus how much credit you have available?
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.
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'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 700 or higher to get an acceptable interest rate. You'll still get approved for a mortgage loan with a lower score, but the interest accumulated in the long run could be more than double the amount of someone having a superior credit score.
Improving your FICO is the best way to ease into buying a home. Call us at 760-727-3776 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 difficult to make a significant stride change in your number with small changes, but your score can improve in a year by keeping tabs your credit report and by using credit extended to you to raise your score, instead of ruin it. The most important thing is to know your FICO score. Here are some methods to improve your credit score:
- Don't let your cards get dusty. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, be sure to use your cards to make sure your accounts maintain an active status. But, pay them off in one or two payments.
- Keep up with payments. 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 dip in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to rebuild your credit this way, but it's the most reliable way to show 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 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 sound like a good idea. But, you want to avoid of having one card that is at the limit and have the rest of your cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at about 20% of their credit limit than to have the most of your debt taking up the balance one card.
- Retail cards and gas cards. For those who have no credit or less-than-stellar credit, store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to improve credit, increase your credit limits and stay on top of your payments, which will raise your FICO score. You must always avoid charging a high balance for more than a couple of months because these types of cards usually have a surprising interest rate.
Knowing the ways you can raise your FICO score, you're one step closer to becoming a homeowner. Remember that when it's time 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 Stoneridge Realty & Property Management Services, the loan 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.