About the FICO Credit Score

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Since we live in an computer-driven world, it's not surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage loan boils down to just one number. This score is created by credit agencies. These agencies use the payment history from all of your loans: mortgages, car loans, credit cards, et cetera.

Each of the three credit agencies has its own formula for building your 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 each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, each agency uses the following to determine your score:

  • Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • History of Payments - Do you have a history of late payments?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts? How much do you owe?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. Credit scores range from 300 to 850. Higher is always better. Most people getting a mortgage these days have a score above 620.

FICO makes a huge difference in interest rates

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.

Improving your score

What can you do to raise your FICO score? Unfortunately, not much. Because the FICO score is based on your lifelong credit history, it's difficult to make a significant improvement in the number with quick fixes. You should, of course, appeal for the credit agency to remove any incorrect data on your credit report; this is really the only "quick fix" for credit troubles.

How do I find out my credit score?

In order to raise your FICO score, you must get the reports that the agencies use 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. For a reasonable fee, you can quickly get your FICO from all three agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are helpful information and online tools that can help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report once per year from the three major agencies by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting one is quick and very inexpensive.

Now that you have all the facts, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the right mortgage for you.

Curious about credit scores? Give us a call at 206-409-5626 (LOAN) (LOAN).

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