FICO - Your Credit Score

Since we live in an automated society, it's not surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage comes down to a single number. The years of paying your various bills: your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, sliced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

Each of the three credit agencies has its own formula for building your credit score. The original FICO model was developed by Fair Isaac and Company. Experian uses this model and calls its score FICO. Equifax's model, based on FICO, is called BEACON, while TransUnion, which also uses a slightly modified FICO, calls its score EMPIRICA. While these methods vary from one agency to another, the differences aren't huge; each agency uses the following factors in calculating your score:

  • Your Credit History - Have you had credit for years, or for just a short time?
  • Late Payments - Have you paid more than 30 days late?
  • Your Credit Card Balances - How many accounts? How much do you owe?
  • Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of lending you money?

These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. Each formula produces a single number which varies slightly by agency. FICO scores range from 300 to 800. Higher scores are better. Most people getting a mortgage loan in the current environment have a score above 620.

Not just for qualifying

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.

Raising your credit score

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. So called "credit repair" companies advertise quick fixes, but the score is formulated from your lifetime credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. You must, of course, remove any incorrect data on your credit report; this is the only "quick fix" for credit problems.

How do I find out my credit score?

In order to raise your FICO score, you've got to have the credit reports that are used to build it, and of course, you need the score itself. Fair Isaac, the company that invented the original FICO credit score, offers FICO scores on its website: myFICO.com. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score as well as reports from all three credit reporting agencies. Also available are helpful information and 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 credit reporting agencies by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports do not include a free credit score, but it's very inexpensive to get one at the same time.

Armed with this info, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the most favorable mortgage.

Curious about credit scores? Give us a call at (303) 862-7760.