FICO - The First Step to Home Ownership
The home buying process doesn't start with getting pre-approved for a loan or with choosing a real estate agent. In reality, the home buying process begins and ends with your finances. Without an acceptable FICO score, entering into a loan for a house is harder and, you could find yourself renting longer than you expected in Cary until your score improves.
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 normally having a score of 600. 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 a loan. Some of the factors in calculating 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 loans and credit cards?
- Payment History — How many late payments have you made?
In reviewing your credit history, you'll find 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. As a result, you have three scores, one for each bureau.
Lenders want to ensure that allowing you a loan is a safe move. Your FICO 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 700 or higher to get an acceptable interest rate. If your score is lower, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest accumulated over time could be more than double the amount of someone with a better credit score.
Improving your FICO is the best way to ease into purchasing a home. Call us at (919) 924-4991 and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.
There are methods to raise your score. Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be difficult to make a significant change in your FICO score with small changes, but your score can improve in a few years 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:
- Use your credit. Whether you're just getting started with credit, or if you've got older cards, be sure to use your cards so that your accounts stay active. But, make sure you pay them off in no more than two or three payments.
- Pay on time. How often you're late with payments greatly affects your credit score. It's one of the reasons people who have recently been unemployed see the biggest dip in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to rebuild your credit this way, but it's the most reliable way to show that you're responsible enough to make payments to a lender.
- Correct your credit report. 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 sound like a good idea. But, you steer clear of having one card that is at the limit and have the rest of your cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at about 20% of their credit limit than to have all of your debt transferred to a single card.
- Apply for service station cards or retail credit. For those who have no credit or below average credit, store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to improve credit, increase your credit limits and stay on top of your payments, which will raise your credit. You should always beware of holding a large balance for more than a couple of billing cycles because these types of cards more than likely have a higher interest rate.
Knowing the ways you can improve your FICO score, you can move toward becoming a homeowner. Remember that when you're ready to apply for a loan to purchase a house, 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 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 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.