How's your FICO Score?
Since we live in an computer-driven 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 reporting agencies. They use the payment history from your various loans: mortgages, car/motorcycle loans, credit cards, etcetera.
The three agencies use slightly different formulas to build a credit score. The original FICO was developed by Fair Isaac and Company.
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 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 in building a credit score:
- Your Credit History - Have you had credit for many years, or for a short time?
- History of Payments - Have you paid more than 30 days late, and how often?
- Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you carry? How much do you owe?
- Requests for Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit for the purpose of lending you money?
These factors are weighted differently depending on which formula the agency uses. 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 have a score above 620.
Not just for qualifying
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.
Raising your FICO score
What can you do to improve your FICO score? Unfortunately, not much. Since the score is entirely based on a lifetime of credit history, it is difficult to change it quickly. You must remove any incorrect reporting from your credit report, which is the only "quick fix" for credit problems.
How do I find out my credit score?
To improve your score, you've got to obtain the reports that are used to build it. Of course, you need the score as well. Fair Isaac, the company that offered the original FICO score, sells scores on its website: myFICO.com. For a reasonable fee, you can quickly get your FICO score from all three agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are information and 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 a year from all three agencies by visiting 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.
Armed with this info, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the right mortgage for you.
Want to know more about your FICO score? Call us: 561-395-4264.