About the FICO Credit Score

Since we live in an automated society, it's not surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage boils down to a single number. The years of 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.

TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, the three major credit agencies, each have their own proprietary formula for building a 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 these methods vary from one agency to another, all of the agencies use the following to determine a credit score:

  • Credit History - How long have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Your Credit Card Balances - How many credit card accounts do you have, and how much do you owe on them?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of giving you 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. Credit scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is better. Most home buyers have a score above 620.

FICO makes a huge difference in your interest rate

FICO scores affect more than your ability to get a loan. They also affect your interest rate. Higher scores indicate you are probably a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

Can I raise 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. You should appeal for the credit agency to remove any incorrect data from your credit report, which is the only "quick fix" for credit problems.

How do I find out my credit score?

Before you can improve your score, you have to get your score and ensure that the credit reports from each 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 along with reports from all three reporting agencies. Also available are 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 once a year from the three major 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 will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the right mortgage for you.

Curious about credit scores? Call us at (310) 373-7406.

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