Scoring your Credit - How's your FICO?

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Since we live in an automated world, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage loan boils down to a single number. The FICO score is created by credit reporting agencies. They use the payment history from your various loans: credit cards, mortgages, car/boat loans and others.

TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, the three major credit reporting agencies, each have their own proprietary formula for building a credit score. Fair Isaac and Cooriginally developed this score. . Experian uses this model and calls its score FICO. Equifax's model, based on FICO, is called BEACON, while TransUnion, which also uses a slightly modified FICO, calls its score EMPIRICA. While these methods vary, the differences aren't huge; all of the agencies use the following to calculate a score:

  • Your Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Do you have a history of late payments?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you hold, and how much do you owe?
  • Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of giving you a loan?

These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. Each formula produces a single number which may vary slightly by agency. FICO scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher scores are better. Most home buyers in the current environment have a score above 620.

Credit scores make a difference in your interest rate

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.

Raising your FICO score

How can you raise your FICO score? Because the credit score is entirely based on your lifelong credit history, it's very hard to make a significant change in the score with quick fixes. (Of course you can and should remove incorrect data on your credit report.)

Know your FICO score

Before you can improve your score, you must get your score and make sure that the reports from each agency are correct. Fair Isaac, the company that offered the original FICO score, sells scores on its website: myFICO.com. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score as well as reports from all three agencies. Also available are helpful information and online tools that can help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report once per year from all three 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 info, you'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the most favorable mortgage.

Want to know more about credit scores? Call us: 760-752-4480.

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