How's your FICO Score?

Since we live in an computer-driven society, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage boils down to just one 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.

Each of the three credit reporting agencies has its own formula for building your credit score. The original FICO was developed by Fair Isaac and Company. 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 from one agency to another, the differences aren't huge; each agency uses the following in calculating your credit score:

  • Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • Late Payments - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts? How much do you owe on your accounts?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have you had your credit checked for 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 range from 300 to 800. Higher is always better. Most home buyers in the current environment have a score above 620.

Your FICO score greatly affects your interest rate

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.

Raising your FICO score

What can you do about your FICO score? Very little in the short term. Despite what you hear from "credit repair" companies, the FICO score is built on your lifetime credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. (Of course you can and should have incorrect items removed from your credit report.)

Getting your FICO score

To improve your FICO score, you've got to have the reports that the agencies use to build it, and of course, you need the score itself. Fair Isaac has created a web site (www.myFICO.com) that lets you do just that. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score as well as reports from all three reporting agencies. They also provide helpful information and online tools that help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report once a year from the three major agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting one is quick and inexpensive.

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

Want to know more about credit scores? Call us: 248-644-1200.

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