Scoring your Credit - How's your FICO?

Since we live in an computer-driven society, it's not surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage loan comes down to a single number. The years of paying your various bills: your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills are analyzed, sliced, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

Each of the three credit reporting agencies has its own formula for building your credit score. The original FICO model was developed by Fair Isaac and Company. 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, each agency uses the following to determine your score:

  • Your Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • History of Payments - Do you pay your bills on time?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts? How much do you owe on your accounts?
  • Inquiries on Your Credit - 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. FICO scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is always better. Typical home buyers will probably find their scores falling between 620 and 800.

Your FICO score greatly affects your interest rate

Did you know? 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

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. Since the credit score is entirely based on a lifetime of credit history, it is difficult to change it quickly. (Of course you can and should appeal incorrect items on your credit report.)

Know your FICO

Before you can improve your credit score, you must know your score and make sure that the credit reports from each agency are correct. 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 as well as credit reports from all three agencies. Also available are helpful 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 once a year from the three major credit reporting agencies when you visit 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.

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 your credit score? Give us a call: 425-508-9988.

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