FICO - The First Step to Home Buying
The home buying process doesn't start with getting pre-approved by a lender or with choosing a real estate agent. In reality, the home buying process begins with your finances. To realize your goal of owning a home, you must consider your FICO score along with the type of lender for which you'll qualify in Kern County.
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 650, but scores are tiered from 300 to 850. Since we've experienced an economic downturn, however, some people have seen their score drop dramatically after underemployment, closed credit card accounts, or credit card accounts that were closed because they don't carry a balance. Some of the pieces in summing up your FICO score include:
- Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of loans and credit cards?
- Payment History — How many months do you make late payments?
- 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?
Lenders want to make sure that giving you a loan isn't a risk for them. 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 credit score.
How do you boost your credit score? Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be difficult to make a significant change in your credit score with small changes, but your score can improve in a year by monitoring your credit report and by wisely using credit. The most important thing is to know your FICO score. You'll improve your credit score by using these helpful hints:
- 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 all of your debt taking up the balance a single card.
- Retail cards and service station cards. For those who have no credit or low credit, store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to begin your credit history, increase your credit limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your credit. You should always beware of holding a high balance for too long because these types of cards more than likely have a surprisingly high interest rate.
- Don't let your cards get dusty. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, be sure to use your cards so that your accounts stay active. But, be sure to pay them off in one or two payments.
- Stay on top of payments. Late payments hurt 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 build up your credit this way, but it's the surest way to prove that you're able to make payments to a lender.
- Correct your credit report. If you find mistakes 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 pay extra attention to make sure the activity reported is correct.
Knowing the ways you can improve your credit score, you're one step closer to becoming a homeowner. Keep in mind that when you're ready 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 Fenton Real Estate, shopping for a mortgage is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can become a homeowner.
Get more information by visiting www.myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and review your credit history for free 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.