Scoring your Credit - How's your FICO?
Since we live in an automated world, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage comes down to just one number.
The years of 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.
Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, the three major credit reporting agencies, each have their own proprietary formula for building a credit score. The original FICO model 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, all of the agencies use the following to determine your 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 accounts do you hold, 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 assigned weights based on the formula being used. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. FICO scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is better. Typical home buyers likely find their FICO scores falling 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. Higher scores indicate you are a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.
Improving your score
Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. Some companies promise quick fixes, but they can't do anything different than what you can do — for free. You must, of course, remove any incorrect reporting from your credit report, which is the only "quick fix" for credit troubles.
How do I find out my credit score?
Before you can improve your FICO score, you have to obtain your score and be sure that the reports from each reporting agency are correct. Fair Isaac, the company that invented the original FICO score, offers FICO scores on its website: myFICO.com. It's inexpensive to quickly get your FICO from all three agencies, along with your credit report. 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 free credit report once a year from all three agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports do not include a free score, but it's very inexpensive to get one at the same time.
Armed with this information, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the most favorable mortgage.
Curious about your credit score? Call us: (415) 456-7802.