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Before lenders make the decision to lend you money, they want to know that you are willing and able to repay that loan. To assess your ability to pay back the loan, they assess your income and debt ratio. In order to calculate your willingness to pay back the loan, they consult your credit score.
Fair Isaac and Company developed the original FICO score to assess creditworthiness. For details on FICO, read more here.
Your credit score is a direct result of your repayment history. They don't consider your income, savings, down payment amount, or personal factors like sex race, nationality or marital status. These scores were invented specifically for this reason. "Profiling" was as bad a word when FICO scores were invented as it is now. Credit scoring was developed to assess willingness to repay the loan while specifically excluding other demographic factors.
Your current debt level, past late payments, length of your credit history, and other factors are considered. Your score is calculated from both the good and the bad of your credit history. Late payments lower your credit score, but consistently making future payments on time will raise your score.
Your report must contain at least one account, which has been open for six months or more, and at least one account that has been updated in the past six months for you to get a credit score. This history ensures that there is sufficient information in your credit to assign an accurate score. Some borrowers don't have a long enough credit history to get a credit score. They may need to spend some time building up a credit history before they apply.
It's virtually impossible to change your score in the time between when most people decide to buy a home or refinance their mortgage and when they apply. So the short answer is, you really can't "on the spot." But there are strategies you can live with to make sure when you apply for a loan your score is as high as possible.
Make sure that the information each of the three credit reporting bureaus has on you is consistent and up to date. Order a copy of your credit report about once a year, and dispute any inaccuracies.
Note: Theoretically, if a series of credit reports is requested on your behalf during a limited amount of time, your score goes down until time passes without any inquiries. Changes in the law though have made "consumer-originating" credit report requests not count so much. Also, a series of requests in relation to getting a mortgage or car loan is not treated the same as a number of credit card requests in a limited time. This is because the credit bureaus, and lenders, realize that people request their own credit reports to keep up with what's on them, and smart consumers shop around for the best mortgage and car loans.
Unsolicited credit card solicitations in the mail don't count against your credit report, so don't worry.
The two main components of your credit score are your payment history and the amounts you owe. Bankruptcy filings and foreclosures, which can stay on your credit report for as long as 10 years, can significantly lower your score. It's never a good idea to take on more credit than you can handle.
Late payments work against you. It's extremely important to pay bills on time, even if it's only the monthly payment.
Don't "max out" your credit lines. Since the size of the balance on your open accounts is a factor, lower balances are better.
It's said that by carefully managing your credit, it's possible to add as much as 50 points per year to your score.
Your credit report is a record of your credit activities. It lists all of your credit card accounts and loans, the balances as well as your payment history. It also shows if any action has been taken against you because of unpaid bills such as a lawsuit or bankruptcy filing. Because businesses use this information to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance and employment, it’s important that the information in your report is complete and accurate, especially if you plan to make a big purchase like a home. ?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), is designed to promote accuracy and ensure the privacy of the information used in consumer reports. Under the FCRA, both the credit reporting agency (CRA) and the organization that provided the information to the CRA (usually the credit card company) must correct any errors or incomplete information in your report.
If you do encounter a mistake on your credit report, several steps need to be taken to correct the matter:
2 In a written letter, tell the CRA what information you believe to be inaccurate. Include copies (not originals) of documents that support your position. Provide your complete name and address, identify each item in your report you dispute, and request deletion or correction. Be sure to make copies of your dispute letter and enclosures.
3. Send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the CRA received.
4. The FCRA mandates that all CRAs reinvestigate the items in question — usually within 30 days — unless they consider your dispute frivolous. They also must forward all relevant data you provide about the dispute to the credit card company. After the credit card company receives notice of a dispute from the CRA, it must investigate, review all relevant information and report the results to the CRA.
5. If the disputed information is found to be inaccurate, the credit card company must notify all nationwide CRAs so they can correct this information in your file. Disputed information that cannot be verified must be deleted from your file.
6. When the reinvestigation is complete, the CRA must give you the written results and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. If an item is changed or removed, the CRA cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the credit card company verifies its accuracy and completeness, and the CRA gives you a written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the credit card company.
7. In addition to the CRA, you should also write to the credit card company about the error. Again, include copies of documents that support your dispute. If you are correct — meaning the information you disputed is found inaccurate — the credit card company cannot use it again. Further, at your request, the CRA must send notices of corrections to anyone who received your report in the past six months.
FICO scores affect more than your ability to get a loan. They also affect your interest rate. Lenders give lower interest rates to individuals with higher scores.
Private Mortgage Insurance, also known as PMI, is a supplemental insurance policy you may be required to obtain in order to get a mortgage loan. PMI is provided by private (non-government) companies and is usually required when your loan-to-value ratio — the amount of your mortgage loan divided by the value of your home — is greater than 80 percent.
PMI isn't a bad thing — it allows you to make a lower down payment and still qualify for a mortgage loan. In fact without PMI, many of us would not be able to purchase our first home.
There are a lot of new loan programs available that can help you eliminate PMI, even if you have less than 20% equity in your home. The monthly savings adds up quickly. This money can be put to better use to help you achieve other short-term and long-term financial goals.
Your PMI premium is fixed based on plan type (loan-to-value ratio, loan type, loan term, etc.) and is not related to your particular credit history or other individual characteristics. PMI typically amounts to about one-half of one percent of your mortgage amount annually, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the premium payment is usually rolled into your monthly mortgage payment. On a $200,000 mortgage, you may be paying $1,000 per year for PMI.
Since we live in a computer-driven world, it's not surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage loan comes down to just one number. Credit reporting agencies use your history of paying loans in order to build a FICO score.
Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, the three major credit reporting agencies, each have their own proprietary formula for building a credit score. The original FICO score was developed by Fair Isaac and Company. While Experian still calls its score "FICO", TransUnion calls its score "Beacon" and Equifax uses "Empirica." While the formulas vary from one agency to another, the differences aren't huge; each agency uses the following factors to build your credit score:
Each of these factors is assigned a value and a weight. The result is a single number: your credit score. FICO scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 850. Higher is better. Most homebuyers have a score above 620.
Unfortunately, not much. So called "credit repair" companies advertise quick fixes, but the FICO score is calculated from your lifetime credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. You should appeal for the credit agency to remove any incorrect data on your credit report, which is the only way to quickly improve your credit score.
Before you begin to shop for a new home, you should set up a time to meet with me so we can figure out how much you can afford. This will put you in a better position as a buyer. That’s when it is important to understand the distinction between being pre-qualified for a loan and pre-approved for a loan. The difference between the two terms will be crucial when you decide to make an offer on a house.
To get pre-qualified for a loan, I will collect information about your debt, income, and assets. We’ll look at your credit profile and assess goals for a down payment and get an idea of different loan programs that would work for you. I will issue you a pre-qualification letter indicating the amount you are pre-qualified to borrow.
It is important to understand that a pre-qualification letter is just an estimate of what you are eligible to borrow, not a commitment to lend. Getting pre-approved for a loan gives you competitive advantage when the time comes to bid on a home because you have been approved for a loan for a specified amount.
To get pre-approved, you will complete a mortgage application and provide me with various information verifying your employment, assets and financial status such as W-2 forms, bank records and credit card statements. We’ll review your mortgage options and submit your application to the lender that best meets your needs. Once the application process is complete you will receive a pre-approval letter indicating the amount your lender is willing to lend you for your home.
A pre-approval letter is not binding on the lender; it is subject to an appraisal of the home you wish to purchase and certain other conditions. If your financial situation changes (e.g. you lose your job), interest rates rise or a specified expiration date passes, your lender must review your situation and recalculate your mortgage amount accordingly.
Whether you are buying or selling a home, you should have a professional home inspection performed.
A home inspection will look at the systems that make up the building such as:
If you are buying a home, you need to know exactly what you are getting. A home inspection, performed by a professional home inspector, will reveal any hidden problems with the home so that they may be addressed BEFORE the deal is closed. You should require an inspection at the time you make a formal offer. Make sure the contract has an inspection contingency. Then, hire your own inspector and pay close attention to the inspection report. If you aren't comfortable with what he finds, you should kill the deal.
Likewise, if you are selling a home, you want to know about such potential hidden problems before your house goes on the market. Almost all contracts include the condition that the contract is contingent upon completion of a satisfactory inspection. And most buyer's are going to insist that the inspection be a professional home inspection, usually by an inspector they hire. If the buyer's inspector finds a problem, it can cause the buyer to get cold feet and the deal can often fall through. At best, surprise problems uncovered by the buyer's inspector will cause delays in closing, and usually you will have to pay for repairs at the last minute, or take a lower price on your home.
It's better to pay for your own inspection before putting your home on the market. Find out about any hidden problems and correct them in advance. Otherwise, you can count on the buyer's inspector finding them, at the worst possible time.
The biggest investment you will make in your life will likely be the purchase of a home. Before closing on the house, you'll want to know that no individual or entity has a claim or lien to the property.
Determining that your rights and interests to the property are clear is the business of a title insurance company.
For a modest, one-time title insurance premium, you will receive continuous title insurance protection equal to the purchase price of the property or its current market value.
The title insurance company performs an extensive search on the title history of the property. Through its research, the title company can almost always identify any title problems and have these problems cleared-up prior to closing.
Real Estate law is extraordinarily complicated. Title companies make sure that all the T's are crossed and all the I's are dotted so you don't end up with a clouded title and legal problems. Your owner's policy will describe the property and outline the limitations on your ownership. It will also cover what the title insurance company is responsible for. Title insurance usually covers:
Contested title — This usually happens when someone who owned or even lived in the home before you claims to still hold an interest. In this case, the title insurance company will defend your title at no expense to you.
Defective title — This is a general term for a legal problem with the title that cannot be corrected and includes "contested title" above. Other examples of title defects include problems with legal access to the property, easements that make the property less usable, unusable, or unsaleable. Any number of other complicated problems define "Defective title." The title insurance policy will protect you from these errors if the title company misses them.