Scoring Your Credit - How's Your Credit Score
The road to home ownership doesn't start with getting pre-approved for a loan or with choosing a real estate agent. In reality, the home buying process begins with your finances. To propel your dreams of homeownership forward, you must consider your FICO score along with the type of lender for which you'll qualify in Flagler County.
The Fair Isaac Company calculates your FICO score on the summary of your complete credit history. Most people usually have a score of 650, 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 via a mortgage loan. Some of the factors in calculating your FICO score are:
- Payment History — Do you pay your bills on time each month?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
- 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 loans and credit cards?
Lenders want to make sure that allowing you a loan isn't a risk for them. Your credit score gives lenders a view of what type of borrower you are solely because of 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 a satisfactory interest rate. If your score is lower, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest accrued in the long run could be more than double the amount of an individual having a better credit score.
How do you get a higher score? Building your FICO score takes time. It can be rare to make a large-scale change in your FICO score with quick fixes, but your score can improve in a year by monitoring your credit report and by wisely using credit. The most important thing is to know your FICO score. Here are some ways you can improve your credit score:
- Keep up with payments. Late payments kill 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 restore your credit with payment history, but it's the surest way to prove that you're responsible enough to make payments to a bank.
- Ensure that your credit history is correct. If you discover mistakes on your credit report, write to the bureau requesting 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 sound 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 a smaller balance than to have the most of your debt transferred to one card.
- Store cards and gas station cards. For those who have non-existent credit or low credit, store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to repair credit, increase your spending limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your FICO score. You must always avoid carrying a large balance for too long because these types of cards more than likely have a surprising interest rate.
- Use your credit. 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, be sure to pay them off in one or two payments.
Knowing the ways you can build up your FICO score, you're one step closer to becoming a homeowner. Know that when it's time to apply for a loan to purchase a house, you'll want to keep your applications within a two-week window to avoid damaging your credit score. With the help of Elizabeth Jimenez, shopping for a mortgage can be a stress-free experience so you, too, can achieve home ownership.
Get more information by visiting 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 work with all levels of credit and can help you settle into home ownership with the best lending institution for you. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call