You Credit Score- How's Your FICO?

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Since we live in an computer-driven society, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage loan comes down to a single number. The years of paying your various bills: your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills are analyzed, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

The three credit reporting agencies use slightly different formulas to build a credit score. Fair Isaac and Cooriginally developed this score. . While Experian still calls its score "FICO", TransUnion calls its score "Beacon" and Equifax uses "Empirica." While each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, the differences aren't huge; they all use the following in building your credit score:

  • Credit History - How long have you had credit?
  • History of Payments - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many credit card accounts do you have, and how much do you owe on them?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

Each of these is assigned a value and a weight. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. Credit scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher scores are better. Typical home buyers probably find their FICO scores falling above 620.

FICO makes a big difference in your interest rate

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.

Improving your score

What can you do to improve your FICO score? Very little in the short term. Some companies promise quick fixes, but they can't do anything different than what you can do — for free. (Of course you must have incorrect items removed from your credit report.)

Getting your FICO score

Before you can improve your FICO score, you must obtain your score and be sure that the credit reports from each agency are correct. Fair Isaac, the company that offered the original FICO credit score, offers scores on its website: myFICO.com. It's inexpensive to get your FICO from all three agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are helpful 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 every year from all three agencies at 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 information, you'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the most favorable mortgage.

Want to know more about your FICO score? Call us at 208-941-3337.


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