Scoring Your Credit

Raise your FICO score  to buy a house in Austin with John Horton Realty as your real estate professional - 512-834-1600

Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. In reality, the home buying process starts and ends with your finances. Putting back your money for a down payment is a good idea, but if you lack an acceptable credit score to back it up, you could find yourself renting longer than you expected in Austin until your FICO score is acceptable.

A FICO score is a review of your years of credit history based on an instrument developed by Fair Isaac and Company. Most people usually have a score of 650, but scores range from 300 to 850. Since we've experienced an economic downturn, however, some people have seen their score drop by hundreds of points after unemployment, closed credit card accounts, or credit card accounts terminated because the card didn't carry a high balance. Some of the pieces in summing up your FICO score include:

  • Credit Inquiries — Do you have too many open accounts?
  • Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of credit cards and loans?
  • Payment History — How often do you make late payments?
  • Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?

In reviewing your credit history, you'll see that you actually have three reports. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — three of the major credit reporting agencies — use a slightly different models to determine your credit rating. FICO is used by Experian. Equifax's model is called BEACON and TransUnion uses EMPIRICA. As a result, you have three scores, one for each scoring model.

Lenders want to ensure that allowing you a loan isn't a risk for them. Your FICO score gives lenders an insight into what type of borrower you'd be solely because of your credit history. You'll need a score of at least 700 to get a acceptable interest rate. You can get approved for a mortgage loan with a lower score, but the interest accumulated over time could be more than double that of someone having a superior FICO score.

We're used to working with all levels of credit history. Contact us and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.

You want a higher score, but how do you get it? Building your FICO score takes time. It can be hard to make a large-scale change in your FICO score with small changes, but your score can improve in a year by monitoring your credit report and by using your credit wisely. 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 property in Austin with John Horton Realty as your real estate agent - 512-834-1600
  • Keep up with payments. How often you're late with payments greatly affects your credit score. It's where people who have recently experienced job loss see the biggest hit in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to rebuild your credit with payment history, but it's the surest 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 requesting that the item be removed. If you have a common name or the same name as a family member, you'll want to pay extra attention to make sure the activity reported is correct.
  • Even out your debt. At first, this doesn't sound like a good idea. But, you want to avoid of having one card that is at the maximum and have the rest of your cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at a smaller balance than to have all of your debt sitting on one card.
  • Retail cards and gas station cards. For those who have no credit or below average credit, department store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to start your credit history, increase your spending limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your FICO score. You must always avoid maintaining a large balance for too long because these types of cards usually have a surprising interest rate.
  • Don't let your cards get dusty. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, use your cards to make sure your accounts stay active. But, make sure you pay them off in one or two payments.

Knowing the methods you can use to raise your credit score, you can move toward becoming a homeowner. Remember that when it's time to apply for a loan to purchase a house, you'll want to keep your lender applications within a two-week window to avoid damaging your credit score. With the help of John Horton Realty, the loan process is sure to go more smoothly so you, too, can achieve home ownership.

To learn more, visit myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and you can review all of your credit reports for free each year at annualcreditreport.com. And, for a small payment, you can get your FICO score from each bureau on their websites: equifax.com, experian.com and transunion.com.

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