Don’t let your credit score scare away mortgage lendersby Tim Manni
The sheer responsibility that comes with owning a home — making all your payments on time, maintaining the upkeep of the property, etc. — can be a frightening task for those who aren’t prepared. However, before the monthly payments and the lawnmowers, comes the mortgage qualification process.
If you’re in the market to buy a home, achieving the American dream isn’t going to be easy thanks to all the stringent borrowing requirements placed on homebuyers these days.
To give you the best shot at qualifying for a mortgage, Alexandra Kay, professional writer and contributor to HSH.com, offers five ways to make sure your credit score doesn’t scare away any mortgage lenders:
1. Check your status
“You’ll want to review your credit reports six months or more before a large credit event like applying for a mortgage,” says Gumbinger. It can take quite some time to clear up any errors or solve legitimate disputes, and you want those things off your report when you fill out mortgage applications.
Even if you’re not in the market for a mortgage, you’ll still want to review your credit reports at least once each year. You’re entitled to one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) each year. Stagger receiving the reports, and you’ll have a credit update once every four months. You can access your free reports at www.annualcreditreport.com.
2. Pay on time
“Be extra careful to make each [of] your minimum payments on time each month,” says Barry Paperno, product support manager for FICO, inventor of the FICO score. “If you’re late making payments now, bring them current immediately and keep them current.” Your payment history makes up the largest part of your credit score (35 percent), and it takes longer to raise your score after late payments than it does for some other issues.
3. Pay down debt
Since the FICO formula looks at your credit card limits and balances, both individually and in total, shifting balances around won’t make your bottom line look any better. Instead, you’ll want to pay down balances while continuing to use the cards, says Paperno. Ideally, you’ll want to aim for a utilization percentage, both individually and in total, of under 10 percent. That means you’re using less than 10 percent of available credit on any one of your cards.
Be sure to continue reading Alexandra’s article “5 ways to boost your credit score before applying for a mortgage.”