Home buyer's Guide to Better Credit
The road to home ownership doesn't start with getting pre-approved for a loan or with choosing a real estate agent. The quality of your wallet begins the home buying process. Without an above average credit score, entering into a loan for a house is harder and, you could find yourself renting longer than you expected in Annapolis, Maryland until your score improves.
The Fair Isaac Company calculates your FICO score on the summary of your complete credit history. 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 factors in reviewing your FICO score are:
- Payment History — How many late payments have you made?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
- Credit Inquiries — Do you have too many open accounts?
- Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of loans and credit cards?
When you pull your credit report, you'll find that you actually have three reports. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — three of the major credit reporting agencies — use a slightly different models to calculate your credit rating. FICO is used by Experian. Equifax's model is called BEACON and TransUnion uses EMPIRICA. You have a credit score with each of the bureaus.
Lenders want to be positive that giving you a loan is a safe move. Your FICO score gives lenders a view of what type of borrower you are 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 less than that, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest accrued in the long run could be more than double the amount of someone with a superior credit score.
Staying on top of your FICO score is the first step in purchasing a home. 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 boost your credit score? Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be rare to make a significant stride change in your number with quick fixes, but your score can improve in a year by keeping tabs your credit report and by using credit extended to you to raise your score, instead of ruin it. The best way to do this is to know your FICO score. Here are some ways you can improve your credit score:
- Chain store cards and gas cards. 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 credit limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your FICO score. You should always avoid maintaining a large balance for too long 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 to make sure your accounts maintain an active status. But, make sure you pay them off in no more than two or three payments.
- Stay on top of payments. Payment history is a huge factor in your FICO score. It's one of the reasons people who have recently been unemployed see the biggest hit 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 responsible enough to make payments to a bank.
- Correct your credit report. If you find incorrect items 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 give extra care 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 maxed out and have the rest of your cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at an even balance than to have the bulk of your debt transferred to a single card.
Now that you're better informed about credit reporting, you'll be able to successfully take the first step in owning a home, and that is improving your FICO score. Keep in mind 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 a negative mark on your credit score. With the help of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services PenFed Realty, the loan process can be a stress-free experience so you, too, can achieve home ownership.
Get more information by visiting 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.