How's Your Credit?
The road to home ownership doesn't start with getting pre-approved for a loan or with choosing a real estate agent. In reality, the home buying process begins with your finances. Saving your money for a down payment is a good idea, but if you lack an acceptable credit score to back it up, you could end up renting for another couple of years in Branson until you raise your score.
A FICO score is a review of your years of credit history based on an instrument developed by Fair Isaac and Company. Most people usually have a score of 600, but scores are tiered from 300 to 850. 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 just that and often means you can't get credit. Some of the factors in reviewing your FICO score include:
- Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of credit cards and loans?
- Payment History — How often do you make late payments?
- 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?
Lenders want to ensure that allowing 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 satisfactory interest rate. You'll still get approved for a mortgage loan with a lower score, but the interest accumulated over time could be more than double the amount of an individual with a better credit score.
Staying on top of your FICO score is the best way to ease into owning a home. Contact us and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.
You want a higher score, but how do you get there? Building your FICO score takes time. It can be hard to make a significant stride change in your FICO score with small changes, but your score can improve in a year by monitoring your credit report and by using your credit wisely. The best way to do this is to know your FICO score. Here are some ways you can improve your credit score:
- Spread your debt around. At first, this doesn't seem like a good idea. But, you don't want to have 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 20% of their credit limit than to have all of your debt transferred to one card.
- Store cards and gas cards. For those who have no credit or low credit, chain store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to get credit, increase your credit limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your FICO score. You must always beware of maintaining a large balance for too long because these types of cards more than likely have a larger interest rate.
- Don't let your cards get dusty. Whether you're just getting started with credit, or if you've got older cards, use your cards to make sure your accounts stay active. But, pay them off in no more than two or three payments.
- Pay on time. Delinquent payments instantly lower your credit score. It's one of the reasons people who have recently experienced job loss see the biggest dip 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.
- 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.
Now that you're more informed about credit reporting, you'll be able to successfully take the first steps to homeownership, and that is improving your FICO score. Know 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 Rob Robbins, the loan application process is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can achieve home ownership.
Learn more about FICO scores at 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.