How's your FICO Score?

Since we live in an computer-driven society, it's not surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage loan boils down to a single number. Credit reporting agencies use your loan payment history in order to build this score.

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 the formulas vary, the differences aren't huge; all of the agencies use the following factors in building your score:

  • Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • Late Payments - Have you paid more than 30 days late, and how often?
  • Your Credit Card Balances - How many accounts? How much do you owe?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

Each of these factors is assigned a value and a weight. The result is one number. Credit scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is always better. Most people who want to get a mortgage these days have a score above 620.

Your score affects your monthly payment

Credit scores are used for more than just determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. Higher scores indicate you are probably a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

Can I improve my credit score?

Is it possible to improve your FICO score? Because the FICO score is entirely based on your lifelong credit history, it's difficult to change it quickly. You should remove any incorrect reporting on your credit report, which is the only "quick fix" for credit problems.

Getting your credit score

In order to improve your credit score, you've got to get the 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 as well as credit reports from all three reporting agencies. Also available are 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 every 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.

Armed with this info, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the right mortgage for you.

Curious about credit scores? Give us a call at (619) 688-0011.

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