How's your FICO Score?

Since our world is so computer-driven, it's probably not that surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage loan boils down to a single number. Credit reporting agencies use your loan payment history to build a FICO score.

Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, the three major credit reporting agencies, each have a proprietary formula for building your credit score. The original FICO score was developed by Fair Isaac and Company. While Experian still calls its score "FICO", TransUnion calls its score "Beacon" and Equifax uses "Empirica." While each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, the differences aren't huge; all of the agencies use the following factors in building your credit score:

  • Your Credit History - Have you had credit for many years, or for a short time?
  • Late Payments - Have you paid more than 30 days late?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you hold, and how much do you owe on them?
  • 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. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. FICO scores range from 300 to 800. Higher scores are better. Typical home buyers will probably find their credit scores falling between 620 and 800.

Credit scores make a huge difference in 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.

Can I raise my FICO score?

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. Despite what you hear from "credit repair" companies, the score is built on your lifetime credit history, so it's not possible to raise it significantly in the short term. (Of course you can and should appeal incorrect items on your credit report.)

How do I find out my FICO score?

To improve your FICO score, you must get the 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, offers scores on myFICO.com. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score as well as reports from all three credit reporting agencies. They also provide helpful information and tools that can help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report every year from all three agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports do not include a free credit score, but it's very inexpensive to get one at the same time.

Armed with this information, 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? Give us a call: 720-598-8300.

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