How's Your FICO?
Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. In reality, the home buying process starts and ends with your finances. Saving your money for a down payment is great, but if you don't have a strong credit score to back it up, you could end up renting longer than you expected in Monroe, North Carolina until your score improves.
The Fair Isaac Company calculates your FICO score on the summary of your complete credit history. The score ranges from 300 to 850, with most people traditionally having a score of 600. Since we've experienced an economic downturn, however, some borrowers have seen their score drop dramatically as a result of unemployment, charged off credit card accounts, or credit card accounts that were closed because they don't carry a balance. Some of the factors in summing up your FICO score include:
- 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?
- Credit Inquiries — Do you have too many open accounts?
- Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of credit cards and loans?
Lenders want to ensure 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 satisfactory interest rate. You can get approved for a loan with a lower score, but the interest accumulated over time could be more than double the amount of an individual having a higher credit score.
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There are methods to boost your score. Building your FICO score takes time. It can be difficult to make a significant stride change in your number with small changes, but your score can improve in a year or two by keeping tabs 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:
- Don't let your cards get dusty. 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, make sure you pay them off in no more than two or three payments.
- Keep up with payments. Delinquent payments instantly drop your credit score. It's where people who have recently experienced job loss see the biggest dip in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to rebuild your credit with payment history, 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 requesting that the item be removed. If you have a common name or the same name as a family member, you'll want to give extra care to make sure the activity reported is correct.
- 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 a smaller balance than to have the majority of your debt sitting on one card.
- Apply for gas cards or retail credit. For those who have no credit or low credit, store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to start your credit history, increase your credit limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your credit. You must always avoid maintaining a high balance for more than a couple of billing cycles because these types of cards more than likely have a higher interest rate.
Knowing the methods you can use to build up your FICO score, you can move toward becoming a homeowner. Keep in mind that when it's time to apply for a loan to purchase a home, you'll want to keep your applications within a two-week window to avoid damaging your credit score. With the help of Appleseed Realty, the loan process is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can achieve home ownership.
Get more information by visiting www.myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and review your credit history for free 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 work with all tiers of credit history 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 (704) 219-3160 for more information.