Scoring your Credit - How's your FICO?

Because we live in a computer-driven world, it's probably not that surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage comes down to a single number. The years of paying your various bills: your mortgage, vehicle 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 agencies use slightly different formulas to build 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 the formulas vary, the differences aren't huge; they all use the following in calculating your score:

  • 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 accounts do you hold, and how much do you owe on them?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of lending you money?

These factors are weighted differently depending on which formula the agency uses. Each formula produces a single number which may vary a a little by agency. Credit scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher scores are better. Typical home buyers probably find their scores above 620.

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

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

What can you do about your FICO score? Unfortunately, not much. So called "credit repair" companies advertise quick fixes, but the FICO score is formulated from your lifelong credit history, so it's not possible to raise it significantly in the short term. (Of course you can and should remove incorrect data on your credit report.)

Know your FICO score

Before you can improve your score, you must get your score and ensure that the reports from each reporting agency are correct. Fair Isaac, the company that invented the first FICO score, offers credit scores on myFICO.com. For a reasonable fee, you can quickly get your FICO score from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. They also provide helpful information and tools that can help you improve your FICO score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report once per year from the three major credit reporting 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.

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

Curious about your FICO score? Call us: 816-365-2568.

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