Scoring your Credit - How's your FICO?

Since we live in an computer-driven society, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage loan boils down to a single number. All the years you've been paying your various bills: your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, sliced, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

The three reporting agencies use slightly different formulas to build a credit score. Fair Isaac and Cooriginally developed this score. . Experian uses this model and calls its score FICO. Equifax's model, based on FICO, is called BEACON, while TransUnion, which also uses a slightly modified FICO, calls its score EMPIRICA. While these methods vary, the differences aren't huge; they all use the following factors in calculating a score:

  • Your Credit History - Have you had credit for years, or for a short time?
  • Payment History - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Your Credit Card Balances - How many accounts? How much do you owe on your accounts?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

Each of these is assigned a value and a weight. Each formula produces a single number which varies slightly by agency. Credit scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher scores are better. Typical home buyers will likely find their FICO scores between 620 and 800.

Not just for qualifying

Did you know? Credit scores are used for more than just determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. Higher scores indicate you are a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

Improving your score

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. Despite what you hear from "credit repair" companies, the FICO score is formulated from your lifetime credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. You should remove any incorrect reporting from your credit report; this is the only "quick fix" for credit problems.

Know your FICO score

Before you can improve your score, you have to obtain your score and make certain that the credit reports from each reporting agency are correct. Fair Isaac has created a web site (www.myFICO.com) that lets you do just that. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score as well as reports from all three agencies. Also available are helpful information and online tools that help you improve your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report every year from the three major agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports do not include a free score, but it's very inexpensive to get one at the same time.

Now that you have all the facts, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the most favorable mortgage.

Want to know more about credit scores? Give us a call: 877-310-6200.

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