Ways to Improve Your FICO Score for Home Buying
Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. The content of your wallet begins the home buying process. To realize your goal of owning a home, you must consider your FICO score along with the type of loan for which you'll qualify in Cedar Park.
A FICO score is a review of your years of credit history based on an instrument developed by Fair Isaac and Company. 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. Some of the factors in determining your FICO score are:
- Credit Inquiries — Do you have too many open accounts?
- Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of credit cards and loans?
- Payment History — How many times do you make late payments?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
When you pull your credit report, you'll discover that you actually have three reports. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — three of the major credit reporting agencies — use a slightly different systems 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 ensure that allowing you a loan isn't a risk for them. Your FICO score gives lenders a view of what type of borrower you'll be solely because of your credit history. You'll need a score of at least 700 to get a decent interest rate. You can qualify for a loan with a lower score, but the interest paid over time could be more than double that of someone with a near perfect FICO score.
Improving your credit score is the best way to ease into purchasing a home. Call us at 512-789-7541 and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.
There are strategies to boost your score. Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be difficult to make a significant stride change in your credit score with small changes, but your score can improve in a few years by keeping tabs your credit report and by using your credit wisely. The most important thing is to know your FICO score. You'll improve your credit score by using these pointers:
- Keep up with payments. How often you're late with payments greatly affects 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 surest way to prove that you're able to make payments to a lender.
- Ensure that your credit history is correct. 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 maxed out and have your remaining 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 taking up the balance one card.
- Apply for gas cards or chain store credit. For those who have no credit or less-than-stellar credit, store 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 credit. You must always avoid keeping a large balance for more than a couple of months because these types of cards more than likely have a steeper interest rate.
- Keep your cards in rotation. 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, make sure you pay them off in no more than two or three payments.
Knowing the ways you can raise your FICO score, you're one step closer to becoming a homeowner. Keep in mind that when it's time to apply for a loan to purchase a house, you'll want to keep your lender applications within a two-week window to avoid damaging your credit score. With the help of Homes With Heart, Inc., shopping for a mortgage is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can achieve home ownership.
Learn more about FICO scores at 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.