FICO - The First Step to Home Buying
Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. The quality of your wallet starts the home buying process. To make your goal of homeownership realized, you must consider your FICO score along with the type of lender for which you'll qualify in Artesia.
A FICO score is a collection of your years of credit history based on a model developed by Fair Isaac and Company. Most people usually have a score of 600, but scores are tiered from 300 to 850. Since we've experienced an economic downturn, however, some people have seen their score drop by hundreds of points as a result of underemployment, charged off credit card accounts, or credit card accounts closed by the lender due to inactivity. Some of the factors in reviewing your FICO score are:
- 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 — How many late payments have you made?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus how much credit you have available?
Lenders want to ensure that giving you a loan is a safe move. Your FICO 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 an acceptable interest rate. You'll still get approved for a mortgage with a lower score, but the interest accumulated over time could be more than double the amount of someone having a higher credit score.
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You want a higher score, but how do you get there? Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be difficult to make a large-scale change in your FICO score with quick fixes, but your score can improve in a few years by keeping tabs your credit report and by using your credit wisely. The best way to do this is to know your FICO score. You'll improve your credit score by using these helpful hints:
- Don't let your cards get dusty. 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, make sure you 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 been unemployed see the biggest dip in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to rebuild your credit with payment history, but it's the most reliable way to show that you're able to make payments to a lender.
- Ensure that your credit history is correct. If you discover incorrect items on your credit report, contact 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 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 an even balance than to have the most of your debt taking up the balance one card.
- Apply for gas cards or chain store credit. For those who have non-existent credit or low credit, store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to obtain credit, increase your spending limits and have a solid payment history, which will raise your credit. You must always beware of maintaining a large balance for too long because these types of cards normally have a steeper interest rate.
Now that you're more informed about credit reporting, you'll be able to successfully take the first steps to homeownership, 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 credit inquiries within a two-week window to avoid adverse effects on your credit score. With the help of Pioneer Money Corp., the loan process is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can become a homeowner.
Learn more about FICO scores at 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 tiers of credit and can help you step into home ownership with the best lending insitution for you. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (562) 618-1400 for more information.