FICO - The First Step to Owning
You might think that the home buying process starts with getting pre-approved by a lender or with choosing a real estate agent. The content of your wallet starts the home buying process. To become a homeowner, considering your credit score is a must along with the type of loan for which you'll qualify in Chicago.
The Fair Isaac Company calculates your FICO score on the summary of your complete credit history. Most people traditionally have a score of 650, but scores are tiered from 300 to 850. Even though more people these days are experiencing job loss and delinquent credit cards, FICO scores aren't necessarily adjusted "on a curve." A low score is a low score and that often means you can't get credit extended to you via a mortgage loan. Some of the pieces in calculating your FICO score include:
- 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?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
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 models to determine your credit rating. FICO is used by Experian. Equifax's model is called BEACON and TransUnion uses EMPIRICA. This means you have three scores, one for each scoring model.
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'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 accumulated in the long run could be more than double that of someone with a superior FICO score.
We're used to working with all levels of credit history. Contact us and we 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? Building your FICO score takes time. It can be difficult to make a significant change in your credit score with small changes, 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 methods to improve your credit score:
- Stay on top of payments. Late payments hurt your credit score. It's one of the reasons 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 most reliable way to show that you're responsible enough to make payments to a bank.
- Correct your credit report. 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.
- Even out your debt. At first, this doesn't sound like a good idea. But, you steer clear of having one card that is holding the maximum 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 all of your debt taking up the balance one card.
- Apply for gas station cards or department store credit. For those who have no credit or less-than-stellar credit, retail credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to start your credit history, 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 too long because these types of cards normally have a higher interest rate.
- Don't let your cards get dusty. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, use your cards so that your accounts stay active. But, be sure to pay them off in one or two payments.
Knowing the ways you can build up your credit 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 credit inquiries within a two-week window to avoid a negative mark on your credit score. With the help of Mark Malave, 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 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.