FICO - The First Step to Home Buying
Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. The quality of your wallet begins the home buying process. Putting back your money for a down payment is great, but if you don't have an acceptable credit score to reinforce it, you could end up renting longer than you expected in Chicago until your score improves.
The Fair Isaac Company bases your FICO score on the summary of your complete credit history. The score ranges from 300 to 850, with most people normally having a score of 600. 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 decent interest rate. Some of the pieces in calculating your FICO score include:
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
- Credit Inquiries — Do you have too many open accounts?
- Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of loans and credit cards?
- Payment History — How often do you make late payments?
Lenders want to be positive that allowing you a loan isn't a risk for them. Your credit score gives lenders a view of what type of borrower you are based solely on 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 an acceptable interest rate. You can get approved for a mortgage loan with a lower score, but the interest paid over time could be more than double the amount of someone having a stronger credit score.
Improving your FICO is the first step in purchasing a home. Call us at (773) 938-2585 and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.
How do you obtain a higher score? Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be rare to make a large-scale change in your credit score with quick fixes, 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. Here are some methods to improve your credit score:
- 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 holding the maximum and have the rest of your cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at about 25% of their credit limit than to have the bulk of your debt transferred to a single card.
- Chain store cards and gas station cards. For those who have non-existent credit or less-than-stellar credit, retail credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to establish your credit history, increase your credit limits and stay on top of your payments, which will raise your credit. You should always beware of carrying a large balance for too long because these types of cards traditionally have a steeper interest rate.
- Use your credit. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, use your cards to make sure your accounts maintain an active status. But, be sure to pay them off in no more than two or three payments.
- Pay on time. How often you're late with payments greatly affects your credit score. 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 rebuild your credit with payment history, but it's the most reliable way to prove that you're able to make payments to a lender.
- Correct your credit report. If you find incorrect items 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.
Knowing the methods you can use to raise your credit score, you can move toward becoming a homeowner. Remember that when you're ready 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 Mark Malave, the loan process is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can achieve home ownership.
To learn more, visit 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.