How's Your FICO?
Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. In reality, the home buying process begins and ends with your finances. To become a homeowner, you must consider your FICO score along with the type of lender for which you'll qualify in Catawba County.
The Fair Isaac Company bases your FICO score on the summary of your complete credit history. The score ranges from 300 to 850, with most people normally having a score of 650. In recent years, however, some people have seen their score lowered because of unemployment, delinquent credit card accounts, or credit card accounts terminated because the card didn't carry a high balance. Some of the factors in summing up your FICO score include:
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus how much credit you have available?
- 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 credit cards and loans?
- Payment History — How many times do you make late payments?
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. This means 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 an insight into 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 740 or higher to get an acceptable interest rate. If your score is lower, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest paid in the long run could be more than double that of an individual with a superior FICO score.
Getting your credit in order is the first step in owning a home. Call me at 828-612-2757 and I can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.
You want a higher score, but how do you get it? Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be difficult 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 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:
- Even out your debt. At first, this doesn't seem 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 the most of your debt sitting on a single card.
- Chain Store cards and gas cards. For those who have non-existent credit or less-than-stellar credit, chain store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to start your credit history, increase your spending limits and have a solid payment history, which will raise your credit. You should always beware of holding a high balance for more than a couple of billing cycles because these types of cards usually have a higher interest rate.
- Keep your cards in rotation. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, use your cards so that your accounts maintain an active status. But, make sure you pay them off in one or two payments.
- Stay on top of payments. Late payments hurt your FICO score. It's one of the reasons people who have recently experienced job loss see the biggest dip in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to restore your credit with payment history, but it's the most reliable 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 give extra care to make sure the activity reported is correct.
Knowing the methods you can use to improve your FICO score, you're one step closer to becoming a homeowner. Keep in mind that when it's time to apply for a loan to purchase a home, you'll want to keep your lender applications within a two-week window to avoid damaging your credit score. With the help of Faith Parker Properties, the loan application process is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can become a homeowner.
To learn more, visit www.myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and you can review all of your credit reports for free each year at www.annualcreditreport.com. And, for a small payment, you can get your FICO score from each bureau on their websites: www.equifax.com, www.experian.com and www.transunion.com.
I won't judge you based on your credit scores and can help you step into home ownership with the right lender for you. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 828-612-2757 for more information.