Home buyer's Guide to Better Credit
You might think that the home buying process starts with getting pre-approved by a lender or with choosing a real estate agent. In reality, the home buying process starts and ends with your finances. To propel your dreams of homeownership forward, considering your credit score is a must along with the type of lender for which you'll qualify in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.
A FICO score is a collection of your years of credit history based on a model developed by Fair Isaac and Company. Most people traditionally have a score of 600, but scores range from 300 to 850. Even though more people these days are experiencing job loss and delinquent credit cards, 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 calculating your FICO score include:
- 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?
- Credit Inquiries — Do you have too many open accounts?
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 systems to calculate your credit rating. FICO is used by Experian. Equifax's model is called BEACON and TransUnion uses EMPIRICA. Because of this, 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'll be solely because of your credit history. You'll need a score of at least 700 to get a decent interest rate. If your score is lower, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest accrued over time could be more than double the amount of someone having a near perfect FICO score.
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There are ways to raise your score. Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be difficult to make a significant stride change in your number 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 most important thing is to know your FICO score. You'll improve your credit score by using these pointers:
- Spread your debt around. At first, this doesn't seem like a good idea. But, you steer clear of having one card that is at the maximum and have your remaining cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at an even balance than to have the most of your debt sitting on one card.
- Apply for gas station cards or store credit. For those who have no credit or less-than-stellar credit, department store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to improve credit, increase your spending limits and have a solid payment history, which will raise your credit. You should always avoid charging a large balance for more than a couple of billing cycles because these types of cards more than likely have a surprising interest rate.
- Keep your cards active. Whether you're just getting started with credit, or if you've got older cards, use your cards so that 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 FICO score. It's where people who have recently experienced job loss 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.
- Correct your credit report. If you find incorrect items on your credit report, contact 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.
Now that you're better informed about credit reporting, you'll be able to successfully take the first steps to homeownership, and that is improving your FICO score. Know that when it's time to apply for a loan to purchase a home, you'll want to keep your credit inquiries within a two-week window to avoid adverse effects on your credit score. With the help of KEY INSIGHT, LLC Real Estate Services, shopping for a mortgage can be a stress-free experience so you, too, can achieve home ownership.
To learn more, visit www.myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and review your credit history for free 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 work with all tiers of credit scores and can help you settle into home ownership with the best lender for you. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-362-5151 for additional information.