Maximize your credit score before applying for a mortgage loan.

 

Buying a home is probably the single largest investment most people make in a lifetime. By preparing yourself and your credit profile before a home purchase, you can ensure a smooth finance process and can potentially save thousands on your loan.

 

Start by checking your credit report through your loan agent or on www.annualcreditreport.com.  Keep in mind if checking your own credit online through one of the consumer websites, such as www.annualcreditreport.com or www.freecreditreport.com you are not getting a Mortgage Credit Score; you are getting a Consumer Credit Score.  When you go to a mortgage company or bank the reports they use will have a different score model than the ones you obtain online.  Consumer Credit Scores are generally going to be higher than Mortgage Credit Scores.  

To get the best possible mortgage rate, make sure your credit history is healthy and accurate. Credit scores above 720 are likely to qualify you for most prime loans.  If your credit score is not quite 720 or above, focus your efforts on paying bills on time, reducing your debt balances, avoiding new inquiries and clearing negative inaccuracies from your credit report. 

 

Make sure the information on your credit report is correct and fix any problems you discover.  Give yourself 30-90 days for correcting inaccuracies.  You can learn more about the dispute process by going to www.annualcreditreport.com

 

If you have already started the loan process, ask your loan agent our Rapid Rescoring service that can expedite updates or inaccurate data usually within 2-5 days.  

 

Improving your credit score

 

It’s important to note that raising your credit score is a bit like losing weight: It takes time and there is no quick fix. In fact, quick-fix efforts can backfire. The best advice is to manage credit responsibly over time. See how much money you can save by just following these tips and raising your credit score.

 

Payment History Tips

 

Pay your bills on time.
Delinquent payments and collections can have a major negative impact on your credit score.  Even one payment can lower your score anywhere from 50-100 points depending on the person’s credit file.  If you have missed payments, get current and stay current.  The longer you pay your bills on time, the better your credit score.

 

Negotiate Collections

Be aware that paying off a collection account will not remove it from your credit report. It will stay on your report for seven years, and continue to negatively impact your score.  It is always better to negotiate a deletion of the account with the collection agency before paying it.  Only a deletion of the account may improve your score, depending on your credit profile. 

 

Maintain Low Balances

Keep balances low on credit cards and other “revolving credit”.  High outstanding debt can affect a credit score significantly.  Try to keep your credit card balance below 50% of the credit limit.  The optimal percentage is 30% to maximize your scores.  If you have multiple credit cards, it is better to spread the balances on each of your credit cards so none of them have balances over 50%.  So instead of having one credit card maxed out, spread the balance to several cards, so the balance on each card is below 50% (ideally below 30%).    

 

Don't close unused credit cards as a short-term strategy to raise your score.
This may lower your credit score slightly because it is preventing the credit history on those particular accounts to extend longer, and it eliminates the available high credit on those accounts.

 

Don't open new accounts unless you have to.
Every time you open a new account, there are three potential negative factors that may lower your scores.  First, there is a new inquiry on your credit.  Second, a new account has a short credit history.  Third, if you put a balance on that account, this may lower your score as well.  So, it is best not to open any new accounts unless it is necessary.   

 

Length of Credit History Tips

If you have been managing credit for a short time, don't open a lot of new accounts too rapidly.  New accounts will lower your average account age, which will have a larger effect on your score if you don't have a lot of other credit information. Also, rapid account buildup can look risky if you are a new credit user.

 

New Credit Tips

Do your rate shopping for a given loan within a focused period of time.  Credit scores distinguish between a search for a single loan and a search for many new credit lines, in part by the length of time over which inquiries occur.

 

Re-establish your credit history if you have had problems.
Opening new accounts responsibly and paying them off on time will raise your credit score in the long term.

 

Note that it's OK to request and check your own credit report.
This won't affect your score, as long as you order your credit report directly from the credit reporting agency, such as Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion, or through an organization authorized to provide credit reports to consumers, such as www.annualcreditreport.com, or www.freecreditreport.com.  

 

Have credit cards - but manage them responsibly.
In general, having credit cards and installment loans (and paying timely payments) will raise your credit score. Someone with no credit cards, for example, tends to be higher risk than someone who has managed credit cards responsibly.

 

Check your credit regularly to ensure there are no errors.
Checking your credit reports regularly to be sure they are accurate and error-free is a good idea. In fact, maintaining accurate credit reports is a part of good credit management, which can help to improve your credit scores over time. Checking your score at www.annualcreditreport.com or any other consumer websites does not count as an inquiry and will not hurt your credit score.

 

Limit your inquiries to the 30-day grace period.
If you need a loan, do your rate shopping within a focused period of time, such as 30 days. Credit scores distinguish between a search for a single loan and a search for many new credit lines, in part by the length of time over which inquiries occur.

 

 

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