Your credit score questions, answered
Before you take out a residential mortgage, your lender will need to review some financial information with you, one piece of which is your credit report.
If you've never pulled your credit report or considered what your credit score might be, this part of the process might make you nervous. It shouldn't, though; your credit report and credit score will simply tell the lender how good you are at paying off debt and how much debt you currently have. The higher your score, the better, but that doesn't mean you won't be able to secure a good home loan with an unimpressive score.
Here's what you need to know about credit scores, credit reports and how they affect the mortgage origination process:
What's a credit score?
Your credit score is a three-digit number on a scale of 300-850. Everyone has multiple credit scores because different credit bureaus calculate them independently. To come up with the three-digit score, the companies use complicated proprietary equations.
Even though they don't share the equations with the public, FICO, the most well-known score-calculating company, explains how different factors impact your score:
- 35 percent of your score relates to payment history.
- 30 percent relates to amounts owed currently.
- 15 percent relates to how old your oldest form of credit is.
- 10 percent relates to the diversity of debt you own.
- 10 percent relates to how new your newest form of credit is.
What is a "good" or "bad" score?
Generally, scores that are 700 or above are considered good, and scores over 750-800 are considered excellent. These scores indicate you pay your bills on time and know how to manage multiple forms of debt, making you an excellent candidate for a home loan.
Scores of 550-580 or below are considered very poor. It would be difficult to get a loan of any kind with a score like this. If you discover that your score falls into this category, though, don't worry; there are plenty of strategies you can adopt to bring your score up.
Does everyone have a credit score?
No. If you've never opened a credit card or taken out a loan, you may not have a score, meaning you're "credit invisible." This can make taking out a loan challenging, but not impossible.
What score do I need to get a mortgage?
There's no clear-cut answer to this question because different programs have different requirements. People with credit scores as low as 580 may be able to get an FHA loan, and there's no minimum credit score for VA loans. The best thing to do is to reach out to your mortgage lender and talk about your options - you may have more than you think!
What's a credit report?
While many people talk about credit scores, your lender will want to see your entire credit report. There's a difference here; your score is just that three-digit number. The credit report details what factors went into the equation that resulted in your score.
Your lender will likely pull your credit report directly from one or more of the three main credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. But don't wait for your lender to pull the report to discover what's included in it for yourself. Everyone has access to their own reports through the government-mandated website, annualcreditreport.com. You can get one free credit report each year from each of the three bureaus.
If you've never pulled your credit report, try it today. There's always a chance that there's an error included in it that could affect your score, and it's best to sort that out sooner rather than later. Plus, it's always nice to know what your lender will see ahead of time, so there's no surprises when you inquire about your eligibility for a home loan.
Academy Mortgage is one of the top independent purchase lenders in the country as ranked in the 2016 CoreLogic Marketrac Report. Visit www.academymortgage.com to find a loan, get a rate, or calculate your payment today.
Don't believe these 3 credit score myths
Checking your credit score is generally a good idea before taking out any new credit, like a residential mortgage, auto loan or new credit card. But, according to a survey from MoneyTips, 14% of Americans have never pulled their credit reports, and nearly half haven't looked up their three-digit score in six months.
Not only are many consumers unaware of what their credit score is or how to find out, but many also hold false notions about what the score means. Here are three commonly held myths about credit scores and the truth behind them:
Myth No. 1: Checking your credit will lower it
This is a common misconception that many people hold. It's most likely derived from the fact that a hard pull on your credit report really can lower your score. Unfortunately, however, this myth has caused many people to neglect to check their score or pull their own report for fear of lowering it.
To understand this myth, it's important to know the difference between a hard inquiry and a soft inquiry on your credit. A hard inquiry is when you apply for credit and the lender pulls your credit report.
If you apply for multiple credit cards or loans in a short period of time, thus implementing multiple hard pulls, creditors may interpret that has an inability to secure any credit and is considered a red flag. Therefore, your credit score will drop a few points, CreditKarma reported. It most likely won't be enough to disqualify you for anything you would have been eligible for otherwise.
A soft inquiry, on the other hand, is any time your credit is pulled by yourself or someone who's not seeking to give you credit. For example, your employer or landlord may pull it at some point as part of a routine background check. This won't harm your credit.
You can - and should - check your credit report on your own on a regular basis. You're entitled to three free credit reports every year: one from each Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Simply order one from annualcreditreport.com, a government-mandated website that provides consumers free access to their credit reports.
Myth No. 2: When you get married, you get a joint credit score
When you get married, you'll combine a lot of things: your kitchenware, your book collection and maybe even your finances. But you'll never get a joint credit score; every individual always has his or her own unique score. Despite this fact, a survey from MoneyTips found that nearly three-quarters of respondents believed that when two hearts become one, so do their credit scores.
However, when you and your spouse apply for credit together, the lender will analyze and make a decision based on both party's scores. As such, it's always a good idea to have the "money talk" with your beau before applying for a home loan or any other form of shared credit.
Myth No. 3: I can't get a mortgage because my credit is too low
Your credit report is one of the many documents your mortgage lender will need to review before finalizing your home loan. The better your score, the easier it may be to obtain a loan, and the lower the interest rate you might qualify for.
However, that's not to say that if you have a low credit score, you can't get a mortgage. According to a survey conducted by Fannie Mae, many Americans falsely believe that a score of at least 650 is required to get a home loan. In fact, Fannie Mae only requires people to have a score of 620. Some programs will even work with prospective homebuyers with no credit history at all.
If you think your score is too low to get a mortgage, don't let that stop you from homeownership. Reach out to your lender to find out if you qualify - there's no harm in asking.
To get more information about applying for a residential mortgage, contact Academy Mortgage. We can help you decipher your credit score and help you discover what loans you're eligible for.
Academy Mortgage is one of the top independent purchase lenders in the country as ranked in the 2015 CoreLogic Marketrac Report. Visit www.academymortgage.com to find a loan, get a rate, or calculate your payment today.
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