Scoring Your Credit - How's Your FICO?

Raise your FICO score  to buy a property in Jacksonville with Choice Jacksonville Realty as your real estate agent - (910) 577-1000

You might think that the home buying process starts with getting pre-approved by a lender or with choosing a real estate agent. In reality, the home buying process starts with your finances. To make your goal of homeownership realized, you must consider your FICO score along with the type of mortgage loan for which you'll qualify in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

A FICO score is a collection of your years of credit history based on a model developed by Fair Isaac and Company. Most people traditionally have a score of 600, but scores range from 300 to 850. Job loss has been common in the last few years, but FICO scores aren't necessarily adjusted "on a curve." A low score is a low score and that often means you can't get a decent interest rate. Some of the factors in reviewing your FICO score include:

  • Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of loans and credit cards?
  • Payment History — How many months do you make late payments?
  • Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
  • Credit Inquiries — How many times has your credit history been accessed by someone other than you?

In reviewing your credit history, you'll see that you actually have three reports. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — three of the major credit reporting agencies — use a slightly different systems to calculate your credit rating. FICO is used by Experian. Equifax's model is called BEACON and TransUnion uses EMPIRICA. As a result, you have three scores, one for each scoring model.

When you apply for a mortgage or any other loan, lenders want to make sure that extending a loan to you isn't a problem. Your FICO score gives lenders an insight into what type of borrower you'd be based solely on your credit history. Because of the shift in the economy, most home buyers should have scores in the range of 700 or higher to get a satisfactory interest rate. If your score is lower, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest accrued over time could be more than double the amount of an individual with a near perfect credit score.

We're used to working with all tiers of credit scores. Call us at (910) 577-1000 and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.

You want a higher score, but how do you get there? Building your FICO score takes time. It can be hard to make a significant change in your FICO score with quick fixes, but your score can improve in a few years by monitoring your credit report and by wisely using credit. The best way to do this is to know your FICO score. You'll improve your credit score by using these pointers:


Raise your FICO score  to buy a home in Jacksonville with Choice Jacksonville Realty as your real estate professional - (910) 577-1000
  • Ensure that your credit history is correct. If you find mistakes on your credit report, write to the bureau asking that the item be removed. If you have a common name or the same name as a family member, you'll want to pay extra attention to make sure the activity reported is correct.
  • Spread your debt around. At first, this doesn't seem like a good idea. But, you don't want to have one card that is at the limit and have the rest of your cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at a smaller balance than to have all of your debt taking up the balance a single card.
  • Store cards and gas cards. For those who have non-existent credit or low credit, retail credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to get credit, increase your credit limits and have a solid payment history, which will raise your credit. You should always beware of keeping a high balance for more than a couple of months because these types of cards normally have a surprising interest rate.
  • Keep your cards in rotation. Whether you're just getting started with credit, or if you've got older cards, use your cards to make sure your accounts stay active. But, make sure you pay them off in one or two payments.
  • Keep up with payments. Your credit score plummets with each account that goes to collections. It's where people who have recently been unemployed see the biggest hit in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to rebuild your credit with payment history, but it's the most reliable way to show that you're responsible enough to make payments to a bank.

Knowing the methods you can use to build up your FICO score, you're one step closer to becoming a homeowner. Keep in mind that when you're ready to apply for a loan to purchase a house, you'll want to keep your applications within a two-week window to avoid a negative mark on your credit score. With the help of Choice Jacksonville Realty, shopping for a mortgage can be a stress-free experience so you, too, can become a homeowner.

Get more information by visiting myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and review your credit history for free at annualcreditreport.com. And, for a small payment, you can get your FICO score from each bureau on their websites: equifax.com, experian.com and transunion.com.