How's your FICO Score?

Since we live in an automated society, it's not surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage boils down to just one number. The FICO score is compiled by credit agencies. They use the payment history from all of your loans: credit cards, mortgages, car/boat loans and the like.

All three major credit reporting 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, all of the agencies use the following to build your credit score:

  • 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 credit card accounts do you have, and how much do you owe?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of giving you a loan?

These factors are weighted slightly differently depending on the formula being used. Each formula produces a single number which may vary a a little by agency. FICO scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher is always better. Most home buyers these days have a score above 620.

FICO makes a big difference in your interest rate

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. Because the FICO score is entirely based on your lifelong credit history, it's difficult to change it quickly. (Of course you must have incorrect items removed from your credit report.)

Getting your credit score

Before you can improve your FICO score, you have to know your score and make sure that the reports from each credit reporting agency are correct. Fair Isaac, the company that offered the original FICO credit score, offers credit 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 federally-mandated free credit report once per year from the three major credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports do not include a free score, but it's very inexpensive to get one at the same time.

Now that you have all the facts, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the most favorable mortgage.

Want to know more about your credit score? Give us a call: 954.920.9799.

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