FICO - Your Credit Score

Because our society is so automated, it's probably not that surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage boils down to a single number. All the years you've been 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 these methods vary from one agency to another, the differences aren't huge; all of the agencies use the following in building a score:

  • Your Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • Late Payments - Have you paid more than 30 days late, and how often?
  • 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?

These factors are weighted slightly differently depending on the formula being used. 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. Most home buyers in the current environment have a score above 620.

Your credit score greatly affects how much you pay in interest every month

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.

Raising your FICO score

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. Despite what you hear from "credit repair" companies, the FICO score is built on your lifelong credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. You must appeal for the credit agency to remove any incorrect reporting on your credit report; this is the only way to quickly improve your credit score.

How do I find out my 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 has created a web site (www.myFICO.com) that lets you do just that. For a reasonable fee, you can quickly get your FICO from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. They also provide information and tools that help you improve your credit score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report every year from all three agencies at 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 right mortgage for you.

Curious about your FICO score? Give us a call: 214-865-7442.

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