FICO - Your Credit Score

Since we live in an computer-driven world, it's not surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage boils down to just one number. All the years you've been paying your various bills: your mortgage, vehicle payments, and credit card bills are analyzed, sliced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

All three major credit agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at 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, each agency uses the following to build your score:

  • Credit History - Have you had credit for many years, or for just a short time?
  • History of Payments - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Your Credit Card Balances - How many credit card accounts do you hold, and how much do you owe?
  • 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 from one agency to another. FICO scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher scores are better. Most home buyers these days have a score above 620.

Not just for qualifying

FICO 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.

Improving your score

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. Because the FICO score is entirely based on your lifelong credit history, it's hard to make a significant change in the score with quick fixes. You must, of course, remove any incorrect data from your credit report; this is the only way to quickly improve your credit score.

Getting your credit score

In order to raise your score, you must get the credit reports that are used to build it, and of course, you need the score itself. Fair Isaac, the company that offered the first FICO score, sells FICO scores on myFICO.com. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score along with credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies. They also provide helpful information and tools that help you understand how to improve your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report once per year from all three credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports do not include a free credit score, but it's very inexpensive to get one at the same time.

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

Curious about credit scores? Give us a call at 305-967-7200.