FICO - Your 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. 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.

The three reporting agencies use slightly different formulas to build a credit score. The original FICO score was developed by Fair Isaac and Company. Experian uses this model and calls its score FICO. Equifax's model, based on FICO, is called BEACON, while TransUnion, which also uses a slightly modified FICO, calls its score EMPIRICA. While each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, the differences aren't huge; each agency uses the following factors to build your credit score:

  • Credit History - Have you had credit for years, or for a short time?
  • History of Payments - Have you paid more than 30 days late, and how often?
  • Credit Card Balances - 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?

Each of these factors is assigned a value and a weight. Each formula produces a single number which varies slightly by agency. Credit scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is always better. Most borrowers who want to get a mortgage loan these days have a score above 620.

Your FICO score greatly affects your monthly payment

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

Raising your credit score

How can you improve your credit score? Since the score is entirely based on your lifelong credit history, it is difficult to change it quickly. (Of course you must have incorrect items removed from your credit report.)

Know your FICO

Before you can improve your FICO score, you have to get your score and ensure that the reports from each agency are correct. Fair Isaac, the corporation that invented 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 reports from all three reporting agencies. Also available are 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 once a year from all three credit reporting agencies by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. While this report does not include a free credit score, the cost to "upgrade" your report to include a credit score is very reasonable.

Armed with this info, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the most favorable mortgage.

Want to know more about credit scores? Call us at (207) 571-8034.