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. Without a reasonable credit score, entering into a loan for a house is more difficult and, you could find yourself renting longer than you expected in Pismo Beach until your score improves.
The Fair Isaac Company calculates your FICO score on the summary of your total credit history. Most people usually have a score of 600, but scores range 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 pieces in deciding your FICO score are:
- Payment History — Do you pay your bills on time ?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
- 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?
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 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 an insight into 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 700 or higher to get a decent interest rate. If your score is lower, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest paid over time could be more than double the amount of someone having a stronger credit score.
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There are methods to increase your score. Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be hard to make a significant change in your credit score with quick fixes, but your score can improve in a few years by monitoring 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 helpful hints:
- Stay on top of payments. Payment history is a big factor in 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 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.
- Correct your credit report. If you discover incorrect items 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 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 at 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 the bulk of your debt transferred to one card.
- Store cards and gas station cards. 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 credit limits and stay on top of your payments, which will raise your credit. You should always beware of keeping a high balance for too long because these types of cards more than likely have a surprising interest rate.
- Keep your cards in rotation. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, be sure to use your cards to make sure your accounts maintain an active status. But, pay them off in one or two payments.
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. Keep in mind that when you're ready to apply for a loan to purchase a home, you'll want to keep your lender applications within a two-week window to avoid damaging your credit score. With the help of Ocean West Properties, the loan process can be a stress-free experience so you, too, can achieve home ownership.
To learn more, visit www.myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and you can review all of your credit reports for free each year at www.annualcreditreport.com. And, for a small payment, you can get your FICO score from each bureau on their websites: www.equifax.com, www.experian.com and www.transunion.com.
I work with all levels of credit and can help you get back into home ownership with the best mortgage lender for you. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (805) 540-8485 for more information.