About the FICO Credit Score

Since we live in an automated society, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage loan boils down to a single number. All the years you've been paying your various bills: your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills can be 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. 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, all of the agencies use the following to build a score:

  • Credit History - Have you had credit for many years, or for just a short time?
  • Payment History - Do you have a history of late payments?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you have? How much do you owe?
  • Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

Each of these factors is assigned a value and a weight. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. Credit scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher scores are better. Most folks getting a mortgage these days score 620 or above.

Not just for qualifying

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.

Improving your score

How can you raise your FICO score? Despite what you hear from "credit repair" companies, the FICO score is calculated from your lifetime credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. (Of course you can and should remove incorrect data on your credit report.)

Getting your credit score

To raise your FICO score, you've got to have the reports that are used to build it, and of course, you need the score itself. Fair Isaac, the corporation that offered the original FICO credit score, offers credit scores on myFICO.com. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score as well as credit reports from all three reporting agencies. They also provide information and online tools that help you understand how to improve your FICO score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report once a 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 it is fast and very inexpensive.

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: 978-422-2311.

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