How's Your FICO?
Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. The quality of your wallet begins the home buying process. Without a reasonable FICO score, buying a house is harder and, you could find yourself renting for another couple of years in Oil City until your FICO score is acceptable.
The Fair Isaac Company bases your FICO score on the summary of your total credit history. The score ranges from 300 to 850, with the majority of people normally having a score of 600. 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 a decent interest rate. Some of the pieces in calculating your FICO score include:
- Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of credit cards and loans?
- Payment History — How many months do you make late payments?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
- Credit Inquiries — Do you have too many open accounts?
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 credit score gives lenders a view of what type of borrower you'd 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 a decent interest rate. You'll still qualify for a mortgage loan with a lower score, but the interest accrued over time could be more than double the amount of an individual with a near perfect FICO score.
Improving your credit score is the first step in owning a home. 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? Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be hard to make a large-scale change in your credit score with quick fixes, but your score can improve in a year or two by monitoring your credit report and by using credit extended to you to raise your score, instead of ruin it. The best way to do this is to know your FICO score. Here are some ways you can 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 stay active. But, pay them off in one or two payments.
- Pay on time. Late payments kill your credit score. It's where people who have recently been unemployed see the biggest dip in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to build up your credit this way, but it's the surest 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, 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 pay extra attention to make sure the activity reported is correct.
- Even out your debt. At first, this doesn't seem like a good idea. But, you don't want to have 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 the majority of your debt sitting on one card.
- Apply for service station cards or store credit. For those who have no credit or low credit, chain store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to repair credit, increase your spending limits and stay on top of your payments, which will raise your credit. You must always beware of charging a large balance for too long because these types of cards usually have a higher interest rate.
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. Know that when you're ready 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 Oil Region Realty, LLC, shopping for a mortgage can be a stress-free experience so you, too, can achieve home ownership.
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.