First-Time Buyer's Guide to Better Credit

Raise your FICO score  to buy a home in Destin with Mary Anne Windes, broker/owner as your REALTOR - (850) 837-2211

The home buying process doesn't start with getting pre-approved for a loan or with choosing a real estate agent. In reality, the home buying process starts and ends with your finances. To realize your goal of owning a home, considering your credit score is a must along with the type of loan for which you'll qualify in Destin.

The Fair Isaac Company bases your FICO score on the summary of your total credit history. Most people traditionally have a score of 600, but scores are tiered from 300 to 850. In recent years, however, some people have seen their score lowered as a result of unemployment, closed credit card accounts, or credit card accounts terminated because the card didn't carry a high balance. Some of the pieces in reviewing your FICO score include:

  • Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of credit cards and loans?
  • Payment History — Do you pay your bills on time ?
  • Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus how much credit you have available?
  • Credit Inquiries — Do you have too many open accounts?

In reviewing your credit history, you'll see that you actually have three reports. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — three of the major credit reporting agencies — use a slightly different systems to calculate your credit rating. FICO is used by Experian. Equifax's model is called BEACON and TransUnion uses EMPIRICA. As a result, you have three scores, one for each scoring model.

Lenders want to make sure that giving you a loan isn't a risk for them. Your credit score gives lenders a view of what type of borrower you'd be solely because of your credit history. Because of the shift in the economy, most home buyers should have scores in the range of 700 or higher to get a decent interest rate. You can qualify for a mortgage loan with a lower score, but the interest paid over the life of the loan could be more than double the amount of someone with a near perfect FICO score.

I'm used to working with all levels of credit scores. Contact me and I can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.

You want a better score, but how do you get there? Building your FICO score takes time. It can be rare to make a large-scale change in your FICO score with small changes, but your score can improve in a year by monitoring your credit report and by using your credit wisely. The most important thing is to know your FICO score. You'll improve your credit score by using these helpful hints:

Raise your FICO score  to buy a home in Destin with Mary Anne Windes, broker/owner as your real estate professional - (850) 837-2211
  • Ensure that your credit history is correct. If you discover mistakes on your credit report, contact the bureau requesting that the item be removed. If you have a common name or the same name as a family member, you'll want to pay extra attention to make sure the activity reported is correct.
  • Spread your debt around. At first, this doesn't sound like a good idea. But, you steer clear of having one card that is at the limit and have your remaining cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at a smaller balance than to have the majority of your debt transferred to one card.
  • Department Store cards and gas cards. For those who have no credit or low credit, department store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to get credit, increase your spending limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your FICO score. You should always avoid maintaining a high balance for more than a couple of billing cycles because these types of cards more than likely have a surprisingly high interest rate.
  • Don't let your cards get dusty. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, be sure to use your cards to make sure your accounts stay active. But, make sure you pay them off in one or two payments.
  • Stay on top of payments. Late payments hurt your credit history. It's one of the reasons people who have recently been unemployed see the biggest dip in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to rebuild your credit with payment history, but it's the most reliable way to prove that you're able to make payments to a bank.

Now that you're more informed about credit reporting, you'll be able to successfully take the first step in owning a home, and that is improving your FICO score. Keep in mind that when you're ready to apply for a loan to purchase a home, you'll want to keep your applications within a two-week window to avoid adverse effects on your credit score. With the help of Mary Anne Windes, broker/owner, shopping for a mortgage is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can achieve home ownership.

Get more information by visiting www.myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and you can review all of your credit reports for free each year at www.annualcreditreport.com. And, for a small payment, you can get your FICO score from each bureau on their websites: www.equifax.com, www.experian.com and www.transunion.com.

I won't judge you based on your FICO scores and can help you step into home ownership with the right lending insitution for you. E-mail me at MaryAnne@Destin-Real-Estate.com or call (850) 837-2211 for additional information.