Home buyer's Guide to Better Credit

Raise your FICO score  to buy a house in Chicago with Mark Malave as your real estate agent - (773) 938-2585

Most people assume that the home buying process starts with getting pre-approved for a loan or with choosing a real estate agent. The content of your wallet begins the home buying process. To propel your dreams of homeownership forward, considering your credit score is a must along with the type of mortgage loan for which you'll qualify in Chicago, Illinois.

A FICO score is a review of your years of credit history based on a model developed by Fair Isaac and Company. Most people traditionally 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 just that and often means you can't get a loan. Some of the pieces in calculating your FICO score include:

  • Payment History — Do you pay your bills on time ?
  • 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 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.

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 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 decent interest rate. You can qualify for a loan with a lower score, but the interest paid over the life of the loan could be more than double the amount of someone with a near perfect FICO score.

We're used to working with all tiers of FICO scores. Call us at (773) 938-2585 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 there? Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be rare to make a large-scale change in your number with small changes, but your score can improve in a year by keeping tabs your credit report and by using your credit wisely. The best way to do this is to know your FICO score. You'll improve your credit score by using these helpful hints:


Raise your FICO score  to buy a property in Chicago with Mark Malave as your agent - (773) 938-2585
  • Spread your debt around. At first, this doesn't seem like a good idea. But, you want to avoid of having one card that is at the limit and have your remaining cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at an even balance than to have the majority of your debt taking up the balance a single card.
  • Retail cards and gas station cards. For those who have non-existent credit or below average credit, retail credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to repair credit, increase your credit limits and stay on top of your payments, which will raise your FICO score. You should always avoid keeping a large balance for more than a couple of billing cycles because these types of cards usually have a surprising interest rate.
  • Use your credit. 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, pay them off in no more than two or three payments.
  • Pay on time. Delinquent payments instantly drop your credit 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 restore your credit with payment history, but it's the most reliable way to show that you're able 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 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.

Knowing the ways you can improve your FICO score, you're one step closer to becoming a homeowner. Remember that when you're ready to apply for a loan to purchase a house, you'll want to keep your applications within a two-week window to avoid a negative mark on your credit score. With the help of Mark Malave, 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 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.

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