Home buyer's Guide to Better Credit
Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. The quality of your wallet begins the home buying process. To make your goal of homeownership realized, you must consider your FICO score along with the type of loan for which you'll qualify in Del Mar.
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 traditionally having a score of 600. 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 just that and often means you can't get credit extended to you in the form of a mortgage loan. Some of the pieces in deciding your FICO score include:
- 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 many late payments have you made?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus how much credit you have available?
When you pull your credit report, 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.
When you apply for a mortgage or any other loan, lenders want to make sure that extending a loan to you isn't a risk. Your credit score gives lenders a view of what type of borrower you'll be 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. If your score is lower, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest accrued over time could be more than double the amount of someone with a higher credit score.
We're used to working with all levels of credit scores. Contact us and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.
How do you get a stronger score? Improving 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 keeping tabs your credit report and by wisely using credit. The best way to do this is to know your FICO score. You'll improve your credit score by using these pointers:
- Ensure that your credit history is correct. If you discover mistakes on your credit report, write to 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.
- 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 at the limit 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 sitting on a single card.
- Apply for service station cards or department store credit. For those who have non-existent credit or less-than-stellar credit, chain store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to begin your credit history, increase your spending limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your credit. You must always beware of keeping a large balance for too long because these types of cards usually have a higher interest rate.
- Keep your cards active. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, be sure to use your cards so that your accounts maintain an active status. But, make sure you pay them off in one or two payments.
- Stay on top of payments. Late payments kill your credit history. It's where people who have recently been unemployed see the biggest dip in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to build up your credit this way, but it's the most reliable way to prove that you're responsible enough to make payments to a lender.
Now that you know more about credit reporting, you'll be able to successfully take the first step in owning a home, and that is improving your FICO score. Remember 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 Torrey Pacific Properties, the loan process can be a stress-free experience so you, too, can become a homeowner.
Get more information by visiting 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.