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 REALTOR - (336) 722-9911

Most people assume that the home buying process starts with getting pre-approved for a loan or with choosing a real estate agent. The quality of your wallet begins the home buying process. To make your goal of homeownership realized, you must consider your FICO score along with the type of lender for which you'll qualify in Winston-Salem.

The Fair Isaac Company calculates 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. Since we've experienced an economic downturn, however, some people have seen their score drop dramatically because of job loss, closed credit card accounts, or credit card accounts that were closed because they don't carry a balance. Some of the pieces in determining your FICO score are:

  • Payment History — How many months do you make late payments?
  • Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus how much credit you have available?
  • Credit Inquiries — Do you have too many open accounts?
  • Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of loans and credit cards?

In reviewing your credit history, you'll discover that you actually have three reports. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — three of the major credit reporting agencies — use a slightly different models to determine your credit rating. FICO is used by Experian. Equifax's model is called BEACON and TransUnion uses EMPIRICA. You have a credit score with all three of the bureaus.

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 credit score gives lenders an insight into what type of borrower you'd be solely because of your credit history. Because of the shift in the economy, most home buyers should have scores in the range of 740 or higher to get a decent interest rate. You can qualify for a loan with a lower score, but the interest accumulated over time could be more than double that of someone with a superior credit score.

We're used to working with all levels of FICO scores. Call us at (336) 722-9911 and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.

How do you boost your credit score? Improving your FICO score takes time. It can be rare to make a large-scale change in your number with small changes, but your score can improve in a year or two by monitoring your credit report and by using credit extended to you to raise your score, instead of ruin it. The most important thing is to know your FICO score. You'll improve your credit score by using these pointers:


Raise your FICO score  to buy a house in Winston-Salem with John-Mark Mitchell's Realty Group as your real estate agent - (336) 722-9911
  • Ensure that your credit history is correct. If you discover mistakes on your credit report, contact the bureau requesting 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.
  • Even out your debt. At first, this doesn't sound like a good idea. But, you want to avoid of having one card that is at the maximum and have the rest of your cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at about 25% of their credit limit than to have the bulk of your debt taking up the balance one card.
  • Apply for gas station cards or department store credit. For those who have non-existent credit or below average credit, retail credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to repair credit, increase your credit limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your credit. You should always beware of maintaining a large balance for more than a couple of months because these types of cards normally have a larger interest rate.
  • Keep your cards active. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, use your cards to make sure your accounts stay active. But, make sure you pay them off in one or two payments.
  • Keep up with payments. Your FICO score plummets with each account that goes to collections. It's where people who have recently experienced job loss see the biggest dip in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to restore your credit this way, but it's the surest way to show that you're able to make payments to a lender.

Knowing the ways you can raise your credit score, you're one step closer to becoming a homeowner. Remember 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 a negative mark on your credit score. With the help of John-Mark Mitchell's Realty Group, the loan 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 once per year, for free, you can review all three of your credit reports 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.