How's Your Score?

Raise your FICO score  to buy a home in Wilmington with The BARBARA PUGH Real Estate Team as your agent - 910-520-2945

You might think 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. Putting back your money for a down payment is great, but if you don't have an acceptable credit score to back it up, you could find yourself renting for another couple of years in Wilmington until your FICO score is acceptable.

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 range from 300 to 850. Since we've experienced an economic downturn, however, some people have seen their score drop by hundreds of points because of loss of employment, charged off credit card accounts, or credit card accounts that were closed because they don't carry a balance. Some of the factors in deciding your FICO score are:

  • Payment History — How many late payments have you made?
  • Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
  • Credit Inquiries — Do you have too many open accounts?
  • Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of credit cards and loans?

In reviewing your credit history, you'll find that you actually have three reports. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — three of the major credit reporting agencies — use a slightly different systems to calculate your credit rating. FICO is used by Experian. Equifax's model is called BEACON and TransUnion uses EMPIRICA. Because of this, you have three scores, one for each bureau.

When you apply for a mortgage or any other loan, lenders want to make sure that extending a loan to you isn't a risk. Your credit score gives lenders a view of what type of borrower you'll be solely because of your credit history. You'll need a score of at least 740 to get a decent interest rate. You'll still get approved for a mortgage with a lower score, but the interest accrued in the long run could be more than double the amount of an individual with a stronger FICO score.

We're used to working with all tiers of FICO scores. Call us at 910-520-2945 and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.

You want an improved score, but how do you get there? Building your FICO score takes time. It can be rare to make a large-scale change in your credit score with quick fixes, 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 ways you can improve your credit score:

Raise your FICO score  to buy a house in Wilmington with The BARBARA PUGH Real Estate Team as your REALTOR - 910-520-2945
  • Even out your debt. At first, this doesn't sound like a good idea. But, you steer clear of having one card that is at the limit 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 bulk of your debt taking up the balance a single card.
  • Apply for service station cards or retail credit. For those who have no credit or less-than-stellar credit, chain store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to begin your credit history, increase your spending limits and stay on top of your payments, which will raise your FICO score. You must always avoid maintaining a large balance for too long because these types of cards normally have a higher interest rate.
  • Use your credit. 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 maintain an active status. But, make sure you pay them off in no more than two or three payments.
  • Pay on time. How often you're late with payments greatly affects your credit score. It's where people who have recently been unemployed see the biggest hit in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to restore your credit with payment history, but it's the most reliable way to show that you're able to make payments to a bank.
  • Ensure that your credit history is correct. 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 give extra care to make sure the activity reported is correct.

Knowing the ways you can build up your FICO score, you can move toward becoming a homeowner. Keep in mind that when it's time to apply for a loan to purchase a home, you'll want to keep your applications within a two-week window to avoid damaging your credit score. With the help of The BARBARA PUGH Real Estate Team, the loan application process is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can achieve home ownership.

Get more information by visiting 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 credit history and can help you settle into home ownership with the right lender for you. E-mail us at barbarapugh@seacoastrealty.com or call 910-520-2945 for more information.

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