Home buyer's Guide to Better Credit
You might think that the home buying process starts with getting pre-approved by a lender or with choosing a real estate agent. In reality, the home buying process starts and ends 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 back it up, you could find yourself renting for another couple of years in Tehachapi until your FICO score is acceptable.
A FICO score is a collection of your years of credit history based on an instrument developed by Fair Isaac and Company. The score ranges from 300 to 850, with most people normally having a score of 600. With the change in the economy, however, some borrowers have seen their score drop by hundreds of points because of loss of employment, closed credit card accounts, or credit card accounts that were closed because they don't carry a balance. Some of the pieces in reviewing your FICO score are:
- Payment History — How many late payments have you made?
- 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 loans and credit cards?
In reviewing your credit history, you'll see that you actually have three reports. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — three of the major credit reporting agencies — use a slightly different systems 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 be positive that allowing you a loan isn't a risk for them. Your credit score gives lenders an insight into what type of borrower you are solely because of your credit history. You'll need a score of at least 700 to get a acceptable interest rate. If your score is less than that, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest accrued over time could be more than double that of an individual with a superior FICO score.
Staying on top of your FICO score is the best way to ease into owning a home. Contact me
and I 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 hard to make a significant change in your number with quick fixes, but your score can improve in a year or two by monitoring your credit report and by wisely using credit. The most important thing is to know your FICO score. Here are some ways you can improve your credit score:
- Spread your debt around. At first, this doesn't sound like a good idea. But, you want to avoid of having one card that is at the maximum and have your remaining 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 bulk of your debt sitting on a single card.
- Department Store cards and gas cards. For those who have non-existent credit or low credit, store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to establish your credit history, increase your credit limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your FICO score. You must always beware of charging a high balance for too long because these types of cards more than likely have a larger 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 stay active. But, make sure you pay them off in one or two payments.
- Pay on time. Your credit score plummets with each account that goes to collections. It's one of the reasons people who have recently experienced job loss see the biggest dip 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 responsible enough to make payments to a lender.
- Correct your credit report. If you discover mistakes on your credit report, contact 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 pay extra attention to make sure the activity reported is correct.
Knowing the ways you can build up your FICO score, you can move toward becoming a homeowner. Know that when it's time to apply for a loan to purchase a home, you'll want to keep your lender applications within a two-week window to avoid a negative mark on your credit score. With the help of BVS Properties, the loan process can be a stress-free experience so you, too, can become a homeowner.
Get more information by visiting www.myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and you can review all of your credit reports for free each year 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 levels of credit and can help you step into home ownership with the best mortgage lender for you. When experience matters, call Kathy Carey at (661) 821-1514 for more information.