How's your FICO Score?

Since we live in an automated world, it's not surprising 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, vehicle payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

All three major credit agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at a credit score. Fair Isaac and Cooriginally developed this score. . While Experian still calls its score "FICO", TransUnion calls its score "Beacon" and Equifax uses "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 your score:

  • Your Credit History - How long have you had credit?
  • History of Payments - Have you paid more than 30 days late, and how often?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many credit card accounts do you hold, and how much do you owe?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

Each of these factors is assigned a value and a weight. Each formula produces a single number which may vary a a little from one agency to another. FICO scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher is always better. Most home buyers will probably find their FICO scores falling between 620 and 800.

Not just for qualifying

FICO scores affect more than your ability to get a loan. They also affect your interest rate. Lenders give lower interest rates to individuals with higher scores.

Improving your score

What can you do about your FICO score? Unfortunately, not much. Despite what you hear from "credit repair" companies, the FICO score is calculated from your lifelong credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. (Of course you must appeal incorrect items on your credit report.)

How do I find out my FICO score?

In order to raise your FICO score, you must have the credit reports that are used to build it. Of course, you need the score as well. Fair Isaac, the corporation that invented the original FICO score, sells FICO scores on myFICO.com. For a reasonable fee, you can quickly get your FICO score from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are information and online tools that help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report every year from all three credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting it is fast and very inexpensive.

Armed with this information, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the most favorable mortgage.

Want to know more about credit scores? Give us a call at 214-300-8756.



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