First-Time Buyer's Guide to Better Credit
Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. The content 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 back it up, you could end up renting for another couple of years in Pierre, South Dakota until your score improves.
The Fair Isaac Company calculates your FICO score on the summary of your complete credit history. The score ranges from 300 to 850, with the majority of people normally having a score of 650. 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 a decent interest rate. Some of the factors in determining your FICO score are:
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus how much credit you have available?
- 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?
- Payment History — Do you pay your bills on time each month?
When you pull your credit report, you'll find 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 three 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 risk. Your credit score gives lenders an insight into what type of borrower you are solely because of your credit history. You'll need a score of at least 740 to get a decent interest rate. If your score is less than that, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest paid over time could be more than double the amount of someone with a better FICO score.
We're used to working with all tiers of FICO scores. Call us at (605) 494-4663 and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.
There are ways to raise your score. Building your FICO score takes time. It can be difficult to make a significant change in your number 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:
- Apply for service station cards or retail credit. For those who have no credit or less-than-stellar credit, retail credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to start your credit history, increase your credit limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your credit. You must always avoid maintaining a high balance for too long because these types of cards traditionally have a larger interest rate.
- Keep your cards in rotation. 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, make sure you pay them off in no more than two or three payments.
- Stay on top of payments. Delinquent payments instantly drop your credit score. 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 this way, but it's the surest way to prove that you're able to make payments to a bank.
- Correct your credit report. If you discover incorrect items on your credit report, contact 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 pay extra attention to make sure the activity reported is correct.
- Spread your debt around. At first, this doesn't sound like a good idea. But, you steer clear of having one card that is maxed out and have the rest of your cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at a lower balance than to have the bulk of your debt transferred to a single card.
Knowing the methods you can use to improve your credit score, you can move toward becoming a homeowner. Keep in mind that when you're ready to apply for a loan to purchase a house, you'll want to keep your lender applications within a two-week window to avoid adverse effects on your credit score. With the help of Premier Property, shopping for a mortgage 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 you can review all of your credit reports for free each year 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.