FICO - Your Credit Score

Because we live in a computer-driven world, it's probably not that surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage loan boils down to a single number. The years of paying your various bills: your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills are analyzed, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

Each of the three credit agencies has its own formula for building your credit score. Fair Isaac and Cooriginally developed this score. . 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 the formulas vary, the differences aren't huge; each agency uses the following factors in calculating a score:

  • Credit History - Have you had credit for many years, or for a short time?
  • Late Payments - Have you paid more than 30 days late, and how often?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many credit card accounts do you hold, and how much do you owe on them?
  • Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

These factors are weighted a little bit differently depending on the formula being used. Each formula produces a single number which may vary slightly from one agency to another. Credit scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher is always better. Most home buyers these days have a score above 620.

FICO makes a difference in your interest rate

Did you know? FICO scores are used for more than just determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. Higher scores indicate you are a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

Improving your 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. (Of course you can and should have incorrect items removed from your credit report.)

How do I find out my FICO score?

To improve your score, you've got to obtain the reports that are used to build it, and of course, you need the score itself. 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 as well as credit reports from all three agencies. They also provide information and online tools that can help you improve your credit score.

You can get a free credit report once a year from all three credit reporting agencies by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports do not include a free score, but it's very inexpensive to get one at the same time.

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

Want to know more about your FICO score? Call us at 214-718-7183.