How's Your FICO?
You might think that the home buying process starts with getting pre-approved for a loan or with choosing a real estate agent. The quality of your wallet starts the home buying process. Saving your money for a down payment is great, but if you don't have a strong credit score to reinforce it, you could end up renting longer than you expected in Columbus, Ohio until your score improves.
A FICO score is a collection of your years of credit history based on a model developed by Fair Isaac and Company. Most people usually have a score of 650, but scores range 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 a low score and that often means you can't get credit. Some of the pieces in summing up your FICO score are:
- 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 make sure that allowing you a loan is a safe move. Your FICO score gives lenders an insight into what type of borrower you are 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. If your score is less than that, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest paid in the long run could be more than double the amount of someone with a superior credit score.
Improving your credit is the first step in owning a home. Contact us and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.
You want a stronger score, but how do you get it? Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be difficult to make a significant stride change in your number with quick fixes, 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 best way to do this is to know your FICO score. You'll improve your credit score by using these helpful hints:
- Even out your debt. At first, this doesn't sound like a good idea. But, you steer clear of having 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 all of your debt transferred to a single card.
- Apply for gas station cards or chain store credit. For those who have no credit or less-than-stellar credit, 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 beware of maintaining a high balance for more than a couple of months because these types of cards usually have a surprising interest rate.
- 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 to make sure your accounts stay active. But, be sure to pay them off in one or two payments.
- Keep up with 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 dip in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to rebuild your credit with payment history, but it's the surest way to show that you're able to make payments to a lender.
- Ensure that your credit history is correct. 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.
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. Know 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 damaging your credit score. With the help of SMART MOVE, REALTORS, the loan application 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 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.