Improving Your FICO Score for Home buyers
Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. In reality, the home buying process begins with your finances. Without an acceptable FICO score, entering into a loan for a house is harder and, you could end up renting longer than you expected in Cary, North Carolina until your score improves.
A FICO score is a review of your years of credit history based on a model developed by Fair Isaac and Company. The score ranges from 300 to 850, with most people normally having a score of 650. Job loss has been common in the last few years, but 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 factors in reviewing your FICO score are:
- Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of loans and credit cards?
- 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?
Lenders want to make sure that allowing you a loan is a safe move. Your FICO score gives lenders an insight into what type of borrower you are 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 decent interest rate. If your score is lower, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest accumulated over the life of the loan could be more than double that of an individual with a superior credit score.
Getting your credit in order is the first step in buying a home. Call us at (919) 924-4991 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 difficult to make a large-scale change in your number with quick fixes, but your score can improve in a few years by monitoring your credit report and by wisely using credit. The most important thing is to know your FICO score. Here are some ways you can improve your credit score:
- Ensure that your credit history is correct. 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.
- Spread your debt around. At first, this doesn't sound 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 a smaller balance than to have the majority of your debt taking up the balance one card.
- Chain store cards and gas station cards. For those who have non-existent credit or less-than-stellar credit, store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to get credit, increase your credit limits and have a solid payment history, which will raise your credit. You must always beware of keeping a large balance for more than a couple of months because these types of cards traditionally have a surprising interest rate.
- Keep your cards active. Whether you're just getting started with credit, or if you've got older cards, 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.
- Keep up with payments. Late payments hurt your credit history. It's one of the reasons people who have recently experienced job loss see the biggest hit 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 bank.
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 applications within a two-week window to avoid a negative mark on your credit score. With the help of RE/MAX Performance, the loan process can be a stress-free experience so you, too, can become a homeowner.
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.