Raising Your FICO Score for Home Ownership
Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. In reality, the home buying process begins with your finances. Without an acceptable credit score, purchasing a house is harder and, you could end up renting for another couple of years in Astoria until your FICO score is acceptable.
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 traditionally having a score of 600. 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 a loan. Some of the factors in deciding your FICO score include:
- Credit Inquiries — Do you have too many open accounts?
- Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of loans and credit cards?
- Payment History — Do you pay your bills on time each month?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus how much credit you have available?
When you pull your credit report, you'll see 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 all of the bureaus.
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 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 a decent interest rate. You can get approved for a mortgage loan with a lower score, but the interest accrued over the life of the loan could be more than double the amount of someone with a stronger credit score.
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You want an improved score, but how do you get it? 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 few years by keeping tabs your credit report and by using your credit wisely. The most important thing is to know your FICO score. You'll improve your credit score by using these pointers:
- Apply for service station cards or store credit. For those who have no credit or below average credit, chain store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to repair credit, increase your credit limits and have a solid payment history, which will raise your FICO score. You should always avoid carrying a large balance for more than a couple of months because these types of cards usually have a larger interest rate.
- Keep your cards active. 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.
- Pay on time. How often you're late with payments greatly affects your credit 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 restore your credit this way, but it's the most reliable way to prove that you're able to make payments to a bank.
- Correct your credit report. If you discover 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.
- Even out your debt. 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 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 majority of your debt taking up the balance one card.
Knowing the methods you can use to improve your credit score, you're one step closer to becoming a homeowner. Remember that when you're ready to apply for a loan to purchase a home, 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 Halvatzis Realty Inc, the loan process can be a stress-free experience so you, too, can achieve home ownership.
Learn more about FICO scores at www.myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and once per year, for free, you can review all three of your credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com. And, for a small payment, you can get your FICO score from each bureau on their websites: www.equifax.com, www.experian.com and www.transunion.com.
I won't judge you based on your FICO scores and can help you settle into home ownership with the best lending insitution for you. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 917.701.5013 for more information.