FICO Credit Scores: What Do They Mean?
Since we live in an automated society, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage loan boils down to just one number.
All the years you've been paying your various bills: your mortgage, vehicle payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, sliced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.
All three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at a score. The original FICO score 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 these methods vary from one agency to another, each agency uses the following to build your score:
- Credit History - Have you had credit for many years, or for just a short time?
- Late Payments - Do you pay your bills on time?
- Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts? How much do you owe on your accounts?
- Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit for the purpose of giving you a loan?
These factors are weighted differently depending on which formula the agency uses. The result is a single number: your FICO score. FICO scores range from 300 to 800. Higher scores are better. Most home buyers probably find their FICO scores between 620 and 800.
Not just for qualifying
Did you know? Credit scores are used for more than just determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. Lenders give lower interest rates to individuals with higher scores.
Raising your FICO score
How can you raise your FICO score? So called "credit repair" companies advertise quick fixes, but the FICO score is calculated from your lifetime credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. You should, of course, remove any incorrect data from your credit report; this is really the only "quick fix" for credit problems.
How do I find out my FICO score?
Before you can improve your FICO score, you have to get your score and make certain that the credit reports from each agency are correct. 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 along with credit reports from all three agencies. They also provide information and tools that help you improve your FICO score.
You can get a free credit report once per year from the three major agencies by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting one is fast and very inexpensive.
Now that you have all the facts, you'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the most favorable mortgage.
Curious about credit scores? Give us a call: 7068605514.