First-Time Buyer's Guide to Better Credit
Most people assume 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 begins the home buying process. Putting back your money for a down payment is great, but if you lack an acceptable credit score to back it up, you could end up renting longer than you expected in DuBois, Pennsylvania 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 are tiered from 300 to 850. Since we've experienced an economic downturn, however, some people have seen their score lowered after job loss, charged off credit card accounts, or credit card accounts terminated because the card didn't carry a high balance. Some of the factors in determining your FICO score are:
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
- 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 often do you make late payments?
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 determine your credit rating. FICO is used by Experian. Equifax's model is called BEACON and TransUnion uses EMPIRICA. Because of this, you have three scores, one for each scoring model.
When you apply for a mortgage or any other loan, lenders want to make sure that extending a loan to you isn't a problem. Your FICO score gives lenders an insight into what type of borrower you'll be based solely on your credit history. You'll need a score of at least 700 to get a satisfactory interest rate. You can get approved for a mortgage loan with a lower score, but the interest paid in the long run could be more than double that of an individual having a superior credit score.
Improving your credit score is the best way to ease into buying a home. Contact us and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.
How do you obtain a better score? Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be difficult to make a large-scale change in your credit score with quick fixes, but your score can improve in a year or two by keeping tabs your credit report and by wisely using credit. The most important thing is to know your FICO score. Here are some methods to improve your credit score:
- Even out your debt. At first, this doesn't sound like a good idea. But, you steer clear of having one card that is maxed out and have the rest of your cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at a smaller balance than to have the most of your debt taking up the balance one card.
- Apply for gas cards or chain 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 spending limits and stay on top of your payments, which will raise your FICO score. You should always beware of holding a high balance for more than a couple of months because these types of cards normally have a higher interest rate.
- Use your credit. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, be sure to use your cards so that your accounts maintain an active status. But, be sure to pay them off in one or two payments.
- Keep up with payments. Late payments hurt your FICO score. It's one of the reasons 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 most reliable way to show that you're responsible enough to make payments to a lender.
- Ensure that your credit history is correct. If you find mistakes on your credit report, contact 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 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 Hoffer Realty Associates, shopping for a mortgage can be a stress-free experience so you, too, can become a homeowner.
Learn more about FICO scores at 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.