How's Your FICO?
Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. The content of your wallet begins the home buying process. Saving your money for a down payment is a good idea, but if you don't have an acceptable credit score to reinforce it, you could end up renting longer than you expected in Oil City until you raise your score.
A FICO score is a collection of your years of credit history based on an instrument 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. Some of the factors in reviewing your FICO score are:
- Credit Inquiries — Do you have too many open accounts?
- Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of loans and credit cards?
- Payment History — How often do you make late payments?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
In reviewing your credit history, you'll find that you actually have three reports. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — three of the major credit reporting agencies — use a slightly different systems 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 each 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 an insight into 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 can get approved for a mortgage with a lower score, but the interest accrued in the long run could be more than double that of someone with a superior credit score.
We're used to working with all tiers of credit history. Call us at (814) 677-2326 and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.
You want a better score, but how do you get there? Building your FICO score takes time. It can be difficult to make a significant change in your number with quick fixes, but your score can improve in a few years 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 ways you can improve your credit score:
- Keep up with payments. Late payments kill your credit history. 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 build up your credit with payment history, but it's the most reliable way to show that you're responsible enough to make payments to a bank.
- Correct your credit report. 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 seem 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 a smaller balance than to have the majority of your debt taking up the balance one card.
- Retail cards and service station cards. For those who have non-existent credit or below average credit, chain store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to start your credit history, increase your credit limits and have a solid payment history, which will raise your FICO score. You should always avoid keeping a large balance for more than a couple of billing cycles because these types of cards usually have a surprising interest rate.
- Use your credit. 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, be sure to pay them off in no more than two or three payments.
Now that you know more 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 home, you'll want to keep your lender applications within a two-week window to avoid a negative mark on your credit score. With the help of Oil Region Realty, LLC, shopping for a mortgage is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can become a homeowner.
To learn more, visit 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.