You Credit Score: How's Your FICO?

Because we live in an automated, it's probably not that surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage boils down to a single number. The FICO score is created by credit agencies. These agencies use the payment history of all of your loans: credit cards, mortgages, car/boat loans and the like.

All three major credit agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at a 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 the formulas vary from one agency to another, the differences aren't huge; all of the agencies use the following in calculating a credit score:

  • Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • Late Payments - Do you pay your bills on time?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you have? How much do you owe?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have lenders pulled your credit for the purpose of giving you a loan?

These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. Each formula produces a single number which may vary slightly by agency. FICO scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher scores are better. Most folks getting a mortgage loan these days score 620 or above.

Not just for qualifying

Did you know? 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.

Can I raise my credit score?

Is it possible to improve your credit score? Some companies promise quick fixes, but they can't do anything different than what you can do — for free. (Of course you can and should have incorrect items removed from your credit report.)

Know your FICO score

Before you can improve your score, you have to obtain your score and be sure that the credit reports from each agency are correct. Fair Isaac, the company that invented the original FICO score, sells scores on its website: myFICO.com. It's inexpensive to get your FICO from all three agencies, along with your credit report. They also provide information and online tools that can help you understand how to improve your credit score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report every year from all three credit reporting agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting one is quick and inexpensive.

Armed with this info, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the most favorable mortgage.

Want to know more about your FICO score? Call us at 954.920.9799.

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