How's your FICO Score?
Since we live in an automated society, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage comes down to just one number.
All the years you've been paying your various bills: your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills are analyzed, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.
TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, the three major credit reporting agencies, each have their own proprietary formula for building a credit score. The original FICO model was developed by Fair Isaac and Company.
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 each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, the differences aren't huge; all of the agencies use the following factors in calculating a score:
- Credit History - How long have you had credit?
- Payment History - Do you have a history of late payments?
- Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you carry? How much do you owe on your accounts?
- Credit Inquiries - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?
These factors are weighted a little bit differently depending on the formula being used. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. Credit scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is better. Most home buyers in the current environment have a score above 620.
FICO makes a huge difference in interest rates
FICO scores affect more than your ability to get a loan. They also affect your interest rate. Higher scores indicate you are a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.
Improving your score
Is it possible to improve your credit score? Despite what you hear from "credit repair" companies, the score is calculated from your lifelong credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. You must appeal for the credit agency to remove any incorrect data on your credit report, which is the only "quick fix" for credit problems.
Know your FICO score
In order to improve your FICO score, you must have the reports that are used to build it. Of course, you need the score as well. Fair Isaac, the company that offered the first FICO score, sells FICO scores on its website: myFICO.com. For a reasonable fee, you can get your FICO from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. They also provide information and online tools that can help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.
You can get a federally-mandated free credit report once a year from the three major credit reporting agencies by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. While this report does not include a free credit score, the cost to "upgrade" your report to include a credit score is very reasonable.
Armed with this information, you'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the most favorable mortgage.
Want to know more about credit scores? Call us: (708) 403-5181.