FICO - The First Step to Home Buying
The road to home ownership doesn't start with getting pre-approved for a loan or with choosing a real estate agent. In reality, the home buying process begins with your finances. To make your goal of homeownership realized, considering your credit score is a must along with the type of mortgage loan for which you'll qualify in Cupertino, California.
The Fair Isaac Company calculates your FICO score on the summary of your total credit history. Most people traditionally have a score of 650, but scores are tiered from 300 to 850. Job loss has been common in the last few years, but FICO scores aren't necessarily adjusted "on a curve." A low score is just that and often means you can't get a loan. Some of the factors in deciding your FICO score are:
- Payment History — How often do you make late payments?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus how much credit you have available?
- Credit Inquiries — Do you have too many open accounts?
- Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of loans and credit cards?
In reviewing your credit history, you'll discover 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 scoring model.
Lenders want to make sure that giving you a loan isn't a risk for them. Your FICO score gives lenders a view of what type of borrower you'd 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 a satisfactory interest rate. You can get approved for a mortgage with a lower score, but the interest accrued over the life of the loan could be more than double that of someone having a higher credit score.
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How do you get a better score? Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be rare to make a significant change in your credit score with quick fixes, but your score can improve in a year by monitoring your credit report and by wisely using credit. The best way to do this is to know your FICO score. Here are some ways you can improve your credit score:
- Store cards and gas station cards. For those who have non-existent credit or low credit, department store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to repair credit, increase your credit limits and have a solid payment history, which will raise your credit. You should always avoid maintaining a high balance for more than a couple of months because these types of cards traditionally have a larger interest rate.
- Use your credit. Whether you're just getting started with credit, or if you've got older cards, be sure to use your cards to make sure your accounts stay active. But, pay them off in no more than two or three payments.
- Keep up with payments. How often you're late with payments greatly affects your credit score. It's one of the reasons people who have recently experienced job loss see the biggest dip in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to restore your credit this way, but it's the most reliable way to prove that you're responsible enough to make payments to a lender.
- Ensure that your credit history is correct. If you find 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 give extra care to make sure the activity reported is correct.
- Even out your debt. At first, this doesn't seem like a good idea. But, you steer clear of having one card that is maxed out and have your remaining cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at a lower balance than to have all of your debt taking up the balance one card.
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 house, you'll want to keep your lender applications within a two-week window to avoid damaging your credit score. With the help of Mikasa Homes & Funding, the loan process is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can become a homeowner.
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 won't judge you based on your FICO scores and can help you get back into home ownership with the right lending insitution for you. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 499-6105 for additional information.