Scoring your Credit - How's your FICO?

Since we live in an automated world, it's not surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage boils down to just one number. The years of paying your various bills: your mortgage, vehicle payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, the three major credit reporting agencies, each have a proprietary formula for building a credit score. Fair Isaac and Cooriginally developed this score. . 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? How much do you owe?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of lending you money?

Each of these factors is assigned a value and a weight. The result is a single number: your credit score. Credit scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher is better. Most borrowers getting a mortgage loan have a score above 620.

Not just for qualifying

FICO scores affect more than your ability to get a loan. They also affect your interest rate. Higher scores indicate you are probably a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

Can I raise my FICO score?

How can you raise your FICO score? Despite what you hear from "credit repair" companies, the FICO score is based on your lifelong credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. You must, of course, remove any incorrect data on your credit report; this is really the only way to quickly improve your credit score.

Getting your credit score

Before you can improve your FICO score, you have to obtain your score and make sure that the reports from each agency are correct. Fair Isaac, the corporation that invented the original FICO credit score, offers scores on its website: myFICO.com. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score as well as reports from all three reporting agencies. 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 free credit report once per year from the three major credit reporting 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.

Now that you have all the facts, you'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the right mortgage for you.

Want to know more about your FICO score? Call us at (512) 422-9036.

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