FICO - Your Credit Score

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 just one number. Credit reporting agencies use your history of paying all types of loans to build this score.

The three reporting agencies use slightly different formulas to build 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; they all use the following to build a credit score:

  • Credit History - How long have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Do you have a history of late payments?
  • Credit Card Balances - How many accounts do you have? How much do you owe?
  • Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

These factors are weighted 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 always better. Most home buyers these days have a score above 620.

Credit scores make a difference in interest rates

Did you know? 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.

Can I improve my FICO 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 score is based on your lifelong credit history, so it's not possible to raise it significantly in the short term. You must, of course, remove any incorrect reporting on your credit report, which is the only "quick fix" for credit problems.

Know your FICO score

In order to raise your credit score, you must get the credit reports that the agencies use to build it. Of course, you need the score as well. 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 along with reports from all three reporting agencies. Also available are information and online tools that can help you understand how to improve your FICO score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report every year from the three major credit reporting agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting it is fast and inexpensive.

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.

Curious about credit scores? Call us at (305) 535-2230.

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