FICO - The First Step to Home Ownership
Most people assume that the home buying process starts with getting pre-approved by a lender or with choosing a real estate agent. The quality of your wallet begins the home buying process. Without an above average FICO score, purchasing a house is more difficult and, you could end up renting longer than you expected in Hanover Park until you improve your score.
A FICO score is a review of your years of credit history based on an instrument developed by Fair Isaac and Company. 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 just that and often means you can't get a decent interest rate. Some of the pieces in deciding 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 times do you make late payments?
- Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
When you apply for a mortgage or any other loan, lenders want to make sure that extending a loan to you isn't a problem. Your FICO score gives lenders a view of what type of borrower you'll be solely because of your credit history. Because of the shift in the economy, most home buyers should have scores in the range of 740 or higher to get an acceptable interest rate. If your score is less than that, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest accrued in the long run could be more than double the amount of someone having a near perfect credit score.
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You want a better score, but how do you get there? Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be hard to make a large-scale change in your credit score with small changes, but your score can improve in a year or two by monitoring your credit report and by using credit extended to you to raise your score, instead of ruin it. The most important thing is to know your FICO score. Here are some methods to improve your credit score:
- 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 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 the rest of your cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at about less than 40% of their credit limit than to have the bulk of your debt taking up the balance one card.
- Apply for gas cards or retail credit. For those who have non-existent credit or less-than-stellar credit, department store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to repair credit, increase your spending limits and stay on top of your payments, which will raise your FICO score. You must always beware of holding a high balance for more than a couple of months because these types of cards more than likely have a higher interest rate.
- Keep your cards in rotation. 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, pay them off in one or two payments.
- Stay on top of payments. Payment history is a big factor in your FICO score. It's where people who have recently experienced job loss see the biggest dip in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to build up your credit with payment history, but it's the most reliable way to show that you're responsible enough to make payments to a bank.
Knowing the methods you can use to improve your credit score, you can move toward becoming a homeowner. Remember that when it's time to apply for a loan to purchase a house, you'll want to keep your applications within a two-week window to avoid damaging your credit score. With the help of U.S. AMERICA REALTY INC, the loan process can be a stress-free experience so you, too, can become a homeowner.
Learn more about FICO scores at www.myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and once per year, for free, you can review all three of your credit reports 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.
We won't judge you based on your FICO scores and can help you get back into home ownership with the right lender for you. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (630)540-2780 for additional information.