Credit Report and Score Helping first-time buyers repair and improve their credit so they can buy their first house.

Your Credit Report and Score
Buying a home and proving your are creditworthy go hand in hand. Most of the time proving you are creditworthy and have a good credit score do too. The mortgage industry has tightened down their lending standards and they are requiring their borrowers to have higher credit scores to qualify for a mortgage loan. This is especially hard on first-time homebuyers because they typically have less credit history, less available credit, and usually lack ever having had a previous mortgage.   All of these factors add up to a lower credit score even if you have never missed a payment!

Credit Scores
To get on top of your credit you should begin by learning your score, understanding how credit scoring works, and then if needed take the necessary actions to improve your score.

Mortgage lenders use what is called a FICO® score which runs as high as 850 points. Generally a good score is anything at or over 720, but you still have many good loan options if your credit score is in the mid to upper 600's.

Don't worry if you don't have an 800 credit score because relatively few people do.  You do need to worry though if your score is in the low 600s or below. If your score is under 660 you can expect to have far fewer loan options and you may need to pay higher fees and or a higher interest rate to get a mortgage.  A reputable mortgage loan officer will help you sort out your options when you are ready to apply for a loan.

The first step to learning your score is easy and typically a part of any high-quality homebuyer education and counseling service. With the help of a housing counseling agency, you can get your credit score and then you will also know what, if any, action is needed to get you in a position to be able to qualify for a home loan.  Your homebuyer counselor will be a great resource for you if you need to work on improving your score before you apply for a loan.  

A homebuyer counselor can also teach you about how to maintain a good score.  The credit score factors listed on the left side of this page show you how the credit scores are determined  and which credit habits have the largest impact on determing your score.

Free Credit Reports
You can obtain free credit reports from the three credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com on an annual basis.  This is the only true free service available to consumers and authorized by the federal law.   The other services may at first free, but they aim to sell you additional credit monitoring and or related services which are not.

Some people like to stagger their pulling of the credit reports from  www.annualcreditreport.com as a free way of tracking their report every four months.

The only downside of this free service is, it does not include the score.  Your score is what you and your lender really need to know to sort out your mortgage loan options. For a small fee from www.annualcreditreport.com, you can easily get your credit score or you will likely get it when you sign up for homebuyer counseling services. 

Improving Your Credit Score
The good news about your credit score is that there is a lot you can do to improve your score right away! Here are some of the keys to improving your credit score or keeping your credit score as high as possible:

  • Always pay your minimum payments on time
  • Keep your credit balances low (30% or less of your available credit limit) 
  • Do not close your credit card accounts (you'll lose the balance and the history)
  • Correct inaccurate information on your credit report
  • Don't co-sign a loan unless you can afford the payment on your own
  • Guard against identity theft by keeping your Social Security Number private
  • Spread out your credit card balances among all your cards
  • Carefully document payment of any past due accounts

More Information about Your Credit
While these are just a few things you can do to improve your credit score, there are a lot more tips and information available directly from the source of the secret credit score formula, the Fair Issac Company. For more information about your credit report and score, visit their online consumer education center at www.myfico.com.