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FICO SCORE

Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. The content of your wallet begins the home buying process. Without a reasonable credit score, buying a house is harder and, you could end up renting for another couple of years in Lake County 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 traditionally have a score of 600, but scores are tiered from 300 to 850. Since we've experienced an economic downturn, however, some people have seen their score drop dramatically because of loss of employment, closed credit card accounts, or credit card accounts closed by the lender due to inactivity. Some of the pieces in determining your FICO score are:

  • 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?
  • Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of loans and credit cards?
  • Payment History — Do you pay your bills on time each month?

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 view of what type of borrower you'll be based solely on your credit history. Because of the shift in the economy, most home buyers should have scores in the range of 700 or higher to get a satisfactory interest rate. You can get approved for a loan with a lower score, but the interest accumulated over the life of the loan could be more than double that of an individual having a better credit score.

You want a higher score, but how do you get there? Building your FICO score takes time. At Vangie Berry Signature Realty, we know it's difficult to make a large-scale change in your credit score with small changes, but your score can improve in a year by monitoring your credit report and by using credit extended to you to raise your score, instead of ruin it. The best way to do this is to know your FICO score. Here are some ways you can improve your credit score:

  • Keep up with payments. Payment history is a big factor in 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 rebuild 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.
  • Ensure that your credit history is correct. If you discover incorrect items on your credit report, write to 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.
  • Spread your debt around. At first, this doesn't seem like a good idea. But, you want to avoid of having one card that is holding the maximum and have the rest of your cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at about 25% of their credit limit than to have the majority of your debt sitting on a single card.
  • Store cards and gas cards. For those who have non-existent credit or less-than-stellar credit, store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to get credit, increase your spending limits and have a solid payment history, which will raise your FICO score. Just avoid holding a high balance for more than a couple of two because these types of cards usually have a surprising interest rate.
  • Keep your cards active. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, 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.

Now that you know more about credit reporting, you'll be able to successfully take the first steps to homeownership, and that is improving your FICO score. Know 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 adverse effects your credit score. With the help of Vangie Berry Signature Realty, the loan application process can be a stress-free experience 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 atwww.annualcreditreport.com. And, for a small payment, you can get your FICO score from each bureau on their websites: www.equifax.com, www.experian.comand www.transunion.com.

At Vangie Berry Signature Realty we work with all tiers of credit scores and can help you step into home ownership with the right mortgage lender for you. E-mail us at realestateoutofthebox@gmail.com or call 352-735-8771 for more information.