You Credit Score: How's Your FICO?

Since we live in an computer-driven world, it's not surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage boils down to a single number. The FICO score is created by credit reporting agencies. These agencies use the payment history of your various loans: credit cards, mortgages, car/boat loans etcetera.

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, each agency uses the following to determine a score:

  • Credit History - How long have you had credit?
  • Late Payments - Do you pay your bills on time?
  • Your Credit Card Balances - How many accounts? How much do you owe?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have lenders pulled your credit for the purpose of giving you a loan?

Each of these is assigned a value and a weight. Each formula produces a single number which varies slightly by agency. FICO scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher is better. Most home buyers these days have a score above 620.

Not just for qualifying

Did you know? 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.

Can I improve my FICO score?

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. Some companies promise quick fixes, but they can't do anything different than what you can do — for free. (Of course you must appeal incorrect items on your credit report.)

Know your FICO

Before you can improve your FICO score, you must know your score and ensure that the credit reports from each credit reporting agency are correct. Fair Isaac has created a web site (www.myFICO.com) that lets you do just that. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score as well as reports from all three reporting agencies. They also provide helpful information and tools that help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report every year from the three major agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting one is quick and inexpensive.

Now that you have all the facts, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the most favorable mortgage.

Want to know more about your credit score? Call us: (443) 619-7900.

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