Home buyer's Guide to Better Credit

Raise your FICO score  to buy a home in Winston-Salem with John-Mark Mitchell's Realty Group as your real estate professional - (336) 722-9911

The home buying process doesn't start with getting pre-approved for a loan or with choosing a real estate agent. In reality, the home buying process starts with your finances. Putting back your money for a down payment is great, but if you don't have an acceptable credit score to back it up, you could find yourself renting longer than you expected in Winston-Salem, North Carolina until you improve your score.

The Fair Isaac Company bases your FICO score on the summary of your complete credit history. The score ranges from 300 to 850, with the majority of people traditionally having a score of 650. Even though more people these days are experiencing job loss and delinquent credit cards, FICO scores aren't necessarily adjusted "on a curve." A low score is a low score and that often means you can't get a decent interest rate. Some of the factors in summing up your FICO score are:

  • Credit Inquiries — How many times has your credit history been accessed by someone other than you?
  • Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of credit cards and loans?
  • Payment History — How many late payments have you made?
  • Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?

When you pull your credit report, you'll discover that you actually have three reports. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — three of the major credit reporting agencies — use a slightly different systems to determine your credit rating. FICO is used by Experian. Equifax's model is called BEACON and TransUnion uses EMPIRICA. Because of this, you have three scores, one for each bureau.

When you apply for a mortgage or any other loan, lenders want to make sure that extending a loan to you isn't a problem. Your FICO score gives lenders a view of what type of borrower you'll be solely because of your credit history. You'll need a score of at least 700 to get a satisfactory interest rate. If your score is less than that, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest paid over time could be more than double that of someone with a higher FICO score.

Staying on top of your FICO score is the first step in purchasing a home. Contact us and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.

How do you obtain a higher score? Building your FICO score takes time. It can be rare to make a significant stride change in your number with small changes, but your score can improve in a few years by keeping tabs 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 home in Winston-Salem with John-Mark Mitchell's Realty Group as your real estate agent - (336) 722-9911
  • Keep up with payments. Delinquent payments drastically drop your credit score. It's where people who have recently been unemployed see the biggest dip in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to build up 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 find mistakes on your credit report, write to the bureau asking that the item be removed. If you have a common name or the same name as a family member, you'll want to give extra care to make sure the activity reported is correct.
  • Spread your debt around. At first, this doesn't seem like a good idea. But, you want to avoid of having one card that is holding the maximum and have the rest of your cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at an even balance than to have the bulk of your debt sitting on a single card.
  • Chain store cards and gas station cards. For those who have non-existent credit or below average credit, store credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to improve credit, increase your spending limits and have a solid payment history, which will raise your credit. You must always avoid keeping a high balance for too long because these types of cards more than likely have a surprising interest rate.
  • Keep your cards in rotation. Whether you're just getting started with credit, or if you've got older cards, use your cards to make sure your accounts stay active. But, make sure you pay them off in no more than two or three payments.

Now that you're better informed about credit reporting, you'll be able to successfully take the first steps to homeownership, and that is improving your FICO score. Keep in mind that when you're ready to apply for a loan to purchase a home, you'll want to keep your lender applications within a two-week window to avoid adverse effects on your credit score. With the help of John-Mark Mitchell's Realty Group, the loan application process can be a stress-free experience so you, too, can achieve home ownership.

Learn more about FICO scores at myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and review your credit history for free 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.