How to Get the Best Mortgage Series – Week 4
Understanding how your credit score impacts your home loan options, and why your credit score is a key factor to determine which mortgage products you’ll qualify for is really important. Having a high score will give you the best and most options, while having a low credit score will limit your choices. But, there are options out there for those of you with bad credit and ways you can work on increasing your score.
Start giving your credit score the attention it deserves. It can be considered your “ticket” to homeownership, so you should clearly understand its importance in getting a good mortgage.
Lenders use your FICO credit score to determine how “risky” you are based on your past financial behavior. They want to make sure you can pay back your loan in full and on time.
Your score is based on information from your credit report, which is kind of like a report card on your financial behavior when dealing with credit. It can range from a high of 850 to a low of 300. Your previous payment history and total debt weigh heavier in its calculation. Your score also considers how long you’ve had credit, new credit, and the type of credit.
A credit score has nothing to do with your income or investments; it’s based on how you’ve handled your debt payments, including auto and student loans. It also takes into account if you’ve declared bankruptcy, have a tax lien, or you’re being sought by a collection agency.
Credit Scores Effect on Home Mortgage Rates
Let’s look at credit score ranges and what impact they have on your home loan options today.
740 and above. You’ll have many options in this range – conventional loans, less down payment, lower interest rates – because you’re deemed credit worthy. Lenders can offer you the best mortgage products and terms, such as the lowest rates. That means you’ll save more money over the course of your loan because of its low rate.
720-739. You’re still considered a low risk and lenders want to work with you. In fact, many lenders relaxed their requirements over the last few years, with the average “good” score dipping to this range.
680 – 719. This score is considered okay, but your interest rate will be higher and you’ll be offered fewer loan options.
620-660. This is considered a fair score and lenders may work with you but may require more documentation to determine if they should take a risk and give you a loan. The process may take longer and require more patience on your part. Again, you’ll get a higher interest rate and less choice. FHA and VA loans offer products for individuals with lower credit scores, but have additional requirements.
Below 620. This is considered a poor score and many lenders will deny your loan application completely. You may have access to only one or two loan options, such as a FHA loan or a subprime adjustable rate mortgage (ARM). Contact me to connect with a lender who may have a product available to you if your score falls in this range.
It’s Not Over Until It’s Over
Shop around and meet with several lenders. In today’s market, they are more willing to work with lower scores. Consider having a co-signer and that person’s credit score can be used instead of yours.
Great lenders will spend the time to fully understand why your credit score is low and take a more in-depth look into your entire financial background.
Even though your credit score is weighed heavily when applying for a mortgage, it is only one piece of the qualification process. Other factors that lenders look at include your savings, total assets, current income, amount of debt, and any history with that particular lender.
Some lenders will even help you “rescore” your credit and help you with what exactly to do (and not do) to increase your score quickly. Sometimes it can be as simple as paying a small debt off.
Here are some options that could help round out your own credit-worthiness in a lender’s eyes:
- Prove a year of on-time rent payments to show you’ve been a responsible renter and can handle a mortgage payment.
- Explain it wasn’t irresponsible past actions but rather specific situations that caused your score to dip — such as losing a job in the recession, large medical bills, or student loans.
- Have a good current debt-to-income ratio. (Little to no debt is the KEY*)
- Make a bigger down payment.
- Have at least 6 months of cash reserves in the bank.
- Get a co-signer who has a good or excellent credit score so that the bank knows it can get paid.
- Show you have other assets, such as stocks or bonds.
Keep in mind, if you get a loan with a higher rate than you would like, you can always refinance once your credit has improved. Weigh the cost of refinancing though with the benefit of a new rate over the length of the loan before you commit to paying a new set of closing costs .
How to Increase Your Score Quickly
Even simple actions can help improve (or damage) your score. It’s a step-by-step approach but start working on it today. If you can raise your score from 620 to 700, you will save thousands of dollars in paying interest over the life of your loan. Here’s what you can do:
•Make payments on time … all the time. No matter if it’s a few dollars or thousands, a late payment will hurt your score. This makes up 35% of your FICO score.
•Ask for a higher credit limit on your cards but maintain a low balance. The credit bureaus want to see that you have available credit you aren’t using. Keep your debt-to-credit ratio at 30% or better. This make up 30% of your score.
•Never make major purchases during the time of your loan process. It looks like you are racking up new debt.
•Think twice before canceling a credit card you’ve had a long time. It shows you’ve built a positive account record over the years.
• Negotiate with creditors to make a “good-will adjustment” if you’ve been a good customer in the past. If you’ve justhad one or two late payments because of unemployment or other circumstances, they may work with you.
•Look out for errors or anything suspicious on your credit report and dispute this information. Monitor your report regularly since small discrepancies can lower your score!
•Pay off “trivial fines” before they go to a collection agency. Make sure your parking tickets and even library fines are paid!
Let me know if you have any questions about your credit score. And, last thing—don’t let the fear of not knowing what your credit score is derail you. Check your credit score for free at some of these websites: Credit Karma, Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion.
I'm Morgan and I love helping professionals in the aviation industry make their move to Atlanta as smooth as a greased landing. Whether its relocation, buying for the first time, or selling luxury and aviation real estate properties, I can help you transition smoothly.
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Sharpsburg, GA 30265
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