FICO - The First Step to Home Ownership

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

Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. The quality of your wallet begins the home buying process. Without an acceptable credit score, purchasing a house is more difficult and, you could find yourself renting for another couple of years in Jacksonville, North Carolina until you raise your score.

The Fair Isaac Company calculates your FICO score on the summary of your total credit history. The score ranges from 300 to 850, with the majority of people normally having a score of 600. Even though more people these days are experiencing job loss and delinquent credit cards, FICO scores aren't necessarily adjusted "on a curve." A low score is just that and often means you can't get a loan. Some of the pieces in calculating your FICO score are:

  • Payment History — How many late payments have you made?
  • Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
  • Credit Inquiries — Do you have too many open accounts?
  • Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of loans and credit cards?

When you pull your credit report, you'll discover that you actually have three reports. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — three of the major credit reporting agencies — use a slightly different models to calculate your credit rating. FICO is used by Experian. Equifax's model is called BEACON and TransUnion uses EMPIRICA. Because of this, 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 risk. Your FICO score gives lenders a view of what type of borrower you'd be solely because of your credit history. You'll need a score of at least 700 to get a satisfactory interest rate. If your score is lower, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest accumulated in the long run could be more than double the amount of someone with a stronger credit score.

We're used to working with all levels of FICO 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 stronger score, but how do you get it? Building your FICO score takes time. It can be hard to make a large-scale change in your FICO score with small changes, but your score can improve in a year 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 tips:


Raise your FICO score  to buy a property in Jacksonville with Choice Jacksonville Realty as your real estate professional - (910) 577-1000
  • Use your credit. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, use your cards to make sure your accounts stay active. But, make sure you pay them off in one or two payments.
  • Pay on time. Delinquent payments instantly drop your credit score. It's one of the reasons people who have recently experienced job loss see the biggest dip in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to rebuild your credit with payment history, but it's the surest way to show that you're responsible enough to make payments to a lender.
  • Ensure that your credit history is correct. If you discover mistakes on your credit report, contact the bureau requesting 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.
  • Even out your debt. At first, this doesn't sound like a good idea. But, you don't want to have one card that is at the limit and have your remaining cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at about less than 40% of their credit limit than to have the bulk of your debt taking up the balance a single card.
  • Apply for gas cards or chain store credit. For those who have no credit or less-than-stellar credit, store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to get credit, increase your spending limits and have a solid payment history, which will raise your credit. You must always avoid carrying a high balance for too long because these types of cards traditionally have a steeper interest rate.

Now that you're more informed about credit reporting, you'll be able to successfully take the first steps to homeownership, and that is improving your FICO score. 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 adverse effects on your credit score. With the help of Choice Jacksonville Realty, the loan process is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can achieve home ownership.

To learn more, visit myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and once per year, for free, you can review all three of your credit reports 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.