First-Time Buyer's Guide to Better Credit

Raise your FICO score  to buy a home in South Central Minnesota with D & L Real Estate as your real estate agent - (507)330-2164

Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. The quality of your wallet begins the home buying process. To propel your dreams of homeownership forward, considering your credit score is a must along with the type of loan for which you'll qualify in South Central Minnesota, Minnesota.

A FICO score is a review of your years of credit history based on an instrument developed by Fair Isaac and Company. Most people traditionally have a score of 650, but scores range from 300 to 850. Job loss has been common in the last few years, but FICO scores aren't necessarily adjusted "on a curve." A low score is just that and often means you can't get credit extended to you in the form of a mortgage loan. Some of the pieces in deciding your FICO score include:

  • Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus how much credit you have available?
  • Credit Inquiries — How many times has your credit history been accessed by someone other than you?
  • Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of credit cards and loans?
  • Payment History — How many late payments have you made?

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. You have a credit score with each of the bureaus.

Lenders want to make sure that giving you a loan isn't a risk for them. Your FICO score gives lenders a view of what type of borrower you are based solely on your credit history. Because of the shift in the economy, most home buyers should have scores in the range of 700 or higher to get a satisfactory interest rate. You can qualify for a loan with a lower score, but the interest accrued in the long run could be more than double the amount of an individual having a superior FICO score.

I'm used to working with all levels of FICO scores. Call me at (507)330-2164 and I 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? Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be hard to make a significant stride change in your credit score with quick fixes, but your score can improve in a few years by keeping tabs your credit report and by using credit extended to you to raise your score, instead of ruin it. 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 house in South Central Minnesota with D & L Real Estate as your agent - (507)330-2164
  • Even out your debt. At first, this doesn't seem like a good idea. But, you steer clear of having 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 20% of their credit limit than to have all of your debt taking up the balance a single card.
  • Department Store cards and gas cards. For those who have non-existent credit or low credit, chain store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to obtain credit, increase your spending limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your FICO score. You should always avoid keeping a large balance for more than a couple of months because these types of cards more than likely have a larger interest rate.
  • Keep your cards active. Whether you're just getting started with credit, or if you've got older cards, be sure to use your cards so that your accounts maintain an active status. But, be sure to pay them off in one or two payments.
  • Stay on top of payments. How often you're late with payments greatly affects your credit score. It's one of the reasons people who have recently been unemployed see the biggest dip in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to rebuild your credit this way, but it's the most reliable way to show that you're able to make payments to a bank.
  • Correct your credit report. If you discover mistakes on your credit report, contact the bureau asking that the item be removed. If you have a common name or the same name as a family member, you'll want to give extra care to make sure the activity reported is correct.

Now that you know more 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 it's time 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 D & L Real Estate, the loan process can be a stress-free experience so you, too, can achieve home ownership.

Get more information by visiting www.myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and review your credit history for free at www.annualcreditreport.com. And, for a small payment, you can get your FICO score from each bureau on their websites: www.equifax.com, www.experian.com and www.transunion.com.

I work with all tiers of credit scores and can help you settle into home ownership with the best mortgage lender for you. E-mail me at MNlandman@gmail.com or call (507)330-2164 for more information.