FICO - The First Step to Home Ownership
You might think that the home buying process starts with getting pre-approved for a loan or with choosing a real estate agent. The content of your wallet starts the home buying process. Saving your money for a down payment is great, but if you don't have an acceptable credit score to back it up, you could find yourself renting for another couple of years in Santa Barbara, California until your score improves.
The Fair Isaac Company bases your FICO score on the summary of your total credit history. The score ranges from 300 to 850, with most people normally having a score of 650. 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 a low score and that often means you can't get credit extended to you via a mortgage loan. Some of the pieces in summing up your FICO score include:
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus how much credit you have available?
- Credit Inquiries — Do you have too many open accounts?
- Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of credit cards and loans?
- Payment History — Do you pay your bills on time ?
In reviewing your credit history, you'll discover 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.
Lenders want to ensure that giving you a loan is a safe move. Your FICO score gives lenders an insight into what type of borrower you'd be based solely on 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 loan with a lower score, but the interest accumulated over time could be more than double that of an individual having a higher FICO score.
We're used to working with all tiers of credit scores. Contact us 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 hard to make a large-scale change in your FICO 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 tips:
- Keep your cards in rotation. Whether you're just getting started with credit, or if you've got older cards, be sure to use your cards to make sure your accounts stay active. But, make sure you pay them off in one or two payments.
- Stay on top of payments. Late payments kill 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 rebuild your credit with payment history, but it's the surest way to prove that you're responsible enough to make payments to a lender.
- Correct your credit report. If you discover mistakes 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 give extra care to make sure the activity reported is correct.
- Spread your debt around. At first, this doesn't sound like a good idea. But, you don't want to have one card that is at the limit and have your remaining cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at about 20% of their credit limit than to have the most of your debt taking up the balance a single card.
- Department store cards and gas station cards. For those who have non-existent credit or low credit, chain store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to get credit, increase your spending limits and stay on top of your payments, which will raise your credit. You must always avoid carrying a high balance for more than a couple of billing cycles because these types of cards traditionally have a higher interest rate.
Now that you're more 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 it's time 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 Goodwin & Thyne Properties, shopping for a mortgage can be a stress-free experience so you, too, can become a homeowner.
Get more information by visiting myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and once per year, for free, you can review all three of your credit reports 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.