Tips on Improving Your FICO Score for Home Buying
Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. The content of your wallet begins the home buying process. Putting back your money for a down payment is great, but if you lack a strong credit score to back it up, you could find yourself renting longer than you expected, until you improve your score.
The Fair Isaac Company bases 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. In recent years, however, some borrowers have seen their score drop dramatically because of underemployment, closed credit card accounts, or credit card accounts terminated because the card didn't carry a high balance. Some of the factors in summing up your FICO score are:
- 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 your available credit?
- Credit Inquiries — Do you have too many open accounts?
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. This means you have three scores, one for each bureau.
Lenders want to ensure that allowing you a loan isn't a risk for them. 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 an acceptable interest rate. You can qualify for a loan with a lower score, but the interest accrued in the long run could be more than double that of an individual having a stronger 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.
There are strategies to improve your score. Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be difficult to make a large-scale change in your FICO score with small changes, but your score can improve in a year by monitoring your credit report and by using credit extended to you to raise your score, instead of ruin it. The most important thing is to know your FICO score. Here are some methods to improve your credit score:
- Don't let your cards get dusty. Whether you're just getting started with credit, or if you've got older cards, be sure to use your cards so that your accounts stay active. But, pay them off in no more than two or three payments.
- Pay on time. Payment history is a big factor in your FICO score. It's where people who have recently experienced job loss 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 show that you're responsible enough to make payments to a bank.
- Ensure that your credit history is correct. If you find incorrect items on your credit report, contact 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 about 25% of their credit limit than to have the bulk of your debt transferred to a single card.
- Store cards and gas cards. For those who have non-existent credit or below average credit, store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to begin your credit history, increase your credit limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your credit. You should always beware of carrying a high balance for more than a couple of billing cycles because these types of cards traditionally have a surprising interest rate.
Now that you know more 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 credit inquiries within a two-week window to avoid adverse effects on your credit score. With the help of EZ Home Search Real Estate, shopping for a mortgage is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can become a homeowner.
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.