Scoring Your Credit
Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. The content of your wallet starts the home buying process. Putting back your money for a down payment is great, but if you don't have an acceptable credit score to reinforce it, you could find yourself renting for another couple of years in Lee County until your FICO score is acceptable.
A FICO score is a review of your years of credit history based on an instrument developed by Fair Isaac and Company. The score ranges from 300 to 850, with most people traditionally 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 credit. Some of the pieces in determining your FICO score are:
- 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 — Do you pay your bills on time ?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
When you apply for a mortgage or any other loan, lenders want to make sure that extending a loan to you isn't a risk. Your credit score gives lenders a view of what type of borrower you'll be 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. You can qualify for a mortgage loan with a lower score, but the interest paid in the long run could be more than double that of an individual with a near perfect FICO score.
I'm used to working with all levels of FICO scores. Call me at 239-297-5858 and I can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.
You want an improved score, but how do you get there? Building your FICO score takes time. It can be rare to make a significant change in your credit score with quick fixes, but your score can improve in a few years by keeping tabs your credit report and by using your credit wisely. The best way to do this is to know your FICO score. You'll improve your credit score by using these pointers:
- Department Store cards and gas station cards. For those who have no credit or low credit, department store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to start your credit history, increase your spending limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your credit. You should always beware of keeping a high balance for more than a couple of months because these types of cards usually have a steeper interest rate.
- 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 so that your accounts stay active. But, be sure to pay them off in no more than two or three payments.
- Stay on top of payments. Your credit score plummets with every account that goes to collections. It's where people who have recently been unemployed see the biggest hit 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.
- Correct your credit report. 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 sound 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 lower balance than to have the most of your debt sitting on one card.
Knowing the ways you can build up your credit score, you can move toward becoming a homeowner. Remember that when you're ready to apply for a loan to purchase a house, you'll want to keep your applications within a two-week window to avoid adverse effects on your credit score. With the help of Lori Guthrie,Morris Williams Realty, the loan 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 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 won't judge you based on your credit scores and can help you get back into home ownership with the right lender for you. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 239-297-5858 for more information.