Raising Your FICO Score for Home Ownership
The home buying process doesn't start with getting pre-approved by a lender or with choosing a real estate agent. In reality, the home buying process starts with your finances. Putting back your money for a down payment is a good idea, but if you don't have a strong credit score to reinforce it, you could find yourself renting longer than you expected in San Jose until your FICO score is acceptable.
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 650, but scores range from 300 to 850. Job loss has been common in the last few years, but FICO scores aren't necessarily adjusted "on a curve." A low score is a low score and that often means you can't get a loan. Some of the pieces in deciding your FICO score include:
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus how much credit you have available?
- Credit Inquiries — How many times has your credit history been accessed by someone other than you?
- Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of credit cards and loans?
- Payment History — How many late payments have you made?
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 models to determine your credit rating. FICO is used by Experian. Equifax's model is called BEACON and TransUnion uses EMPIRICA. As a result, you have three scores, one for each bureau.
Lenders want to make sure that giving you a loan is a safe move. 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 a satisfactory interest rate. If your score is less than that, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest accrued in the long run could be more than double the amount of someone having a near perfect FICO score.
We're used to working with all tiers of FICO scores. Call us at 408.320.8080 and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.
You want an improved score, but how do you get it? Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be difficult to make a large-scale change in your FICO score with quick fixes, but your score can improve in a year or two 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 ways you can improve your credit score:
- Store cards and gas cards. For those who have no credit or low credit, store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to begin your credit history, increase your spending limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your FICO score. You should always beware of maintaining a high balance for more than a couple of billing cycles because these types of cards normally have a surprisingly high interest rate.
- Keep your cards active. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, be sure to use your cards to make sure your accounts maintain an active status. But, 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 where 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 surest way to prove that you're responsible enough to make payments to a bank.
- Ensure that your credit history is correct. 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.
- Even out your debt. At first, this doesn't sound like a good idea. But, you want to avoid of having one card that is holding the maximum and have the rest of your cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at about less than 40% of their credit limit than to have the most of your debt transferred to one card.
Knowing the ways you can improve your credit score, you can move toward becoming a homeowner. Remember that when it's time to apply for a loan to purchase a home, you'll want to keep your credit inquiries within a two-week window to avoid a negative mark on your credit score. With the help of Morgan Real Estate & Financial, Inc., the loan application process can be a stress-free experience so you, too, can become a homeowner.
To learn more, visit 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.