Scoring Your FICO
Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. The quality of your wallet starts the home buying process. Without an acceptable credit score, buying a house is harder and, you could end up renting for another couple of years in Annapolis, Maryland until your FICO score is acceptable.
A FICO score is a collection of your years of credit history based on a model developed by Fair Isaac and Company. The score ranges from 300 to 850, with the majority of people normally having a score of 600. In recent years, however, some borrowers have seen their score drop dramatically because of unemployment, delinquent credit card accounts, or credit card accounts that were closed because they don't carry a balance. Some of the pieces in deciding 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 — How many late payments have you made?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus how much credit you have available?
Lenders want to ensure that giving you a loan is a safe move. Your FICO score gives lenders a view of what type of borrower you are 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 an acceptable interest rate. If your score is lower, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest paid over time could be more than double the amount of someone with a higher credit score.
We're used to working with all levels of credit scores. Call us at 410-647-8000 ext. 817 and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.
How do you get a stronger score? Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be hard to make a significant stride change in your number with small changes, but your score can improve in a year or two by keeping tabs your credit report and by using your credit wisely. The most important thing is to know your FICO score. Here are some ways you can improve your credit score:
- 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.
- Spread your debt around. 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 the rest of your cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at a smaller balance than to have the majority of your debt sitting on a single card.
- Apply for gas station cards or store credit. For those who have non-existent credit or less-than-stellar credit, retail credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to establish your credit history, increase your spending limits and stay on top of your payments, which will raise your credit. You must always beware of keeping a high balance for more than a couple of months because these types of cards usually have a surprising interest rate.
- Keep your cards in rotation. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, use your cards to make sure your accounts maintain an active status. But, be sure to pay them off in no more than two or three payments.
- Stay on top of payments. Your FICO 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 this way, but it's the most reliable way to prove that you're able to make payments to a bank.
Knowing the methods you can use to build up your FICO score, you can move toward becoming a homeowner. 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 adverse effects on your credit score. With the help of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services PenFed Realty, the loan process is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can become a homeowner.
To learn more, visit 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.