Because Mortgage Professionals Deserve a Little Extra Credit
The three credit reporting agencies in the United States, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, collect data about consumers used to compile credit reports. The credit agencies use FICO (Fair Isaac Company) software to generate FICO scores, which are sold to lenders. Each individual has three credit scores, one with each Bureau, as the three credit agencies have their own databases, which they do not share with each other. They each gather reports from different creditors, and receive information from creditors at different times.
A resident of the US is permitted by law to view their credit report once a year at no charge by visiting the website AnnualCreditReport.com. The individual’s “credit score” information is available for an additional fee from each of the three credit reporting agencies. This consumer credit score model provided to consumers may differ from the mortgage credit score model and the auto score model. This is because each industry’s score model has different factors that are weighed differently in each score model.
A FICO score is between 350 and 850, exhibiting a left-skewed distribution with 60% of scores near the right between 650 and 799.
Once credit has been established and maintained, credit scores are based on five factors to varying degrees: payment history (35%), total amounts owed (30%), length of time (15%), type of credit (10%) and new credit (10%).
The largest impact on credit scores is payment history and amount owed, which is why it is important to pay bills on time and keep balances low.
Debt should be kept to a minimum and funds should be moved around as little as possible. It may be beneficial to leave all accounts open, even if they have a $0 balance.
Different types of credit (i.e., a mix of credit cards, installment loans and fixed payments) can also be beneficial to a credit score.
Key Factors That Impact Your Score:
1. Payment History (35%)
It is essential to pay your credit bills on time. Every 30 days late, collection, judgment, or Bankruptcy significantly drops your score.
2. Amount You Owe Compared to Balances (30%)
Your available credit compared to the amount owed. It’s a good rule-of-thumb to be at 40% or less of the available balances
3. Length of Credit History (15%)
Easy rule-of-thumb: the longer your accounts are open, the more positive impact it will have on your overall credit score. In fact, if you happen to have a card that is over 10 years old with even a little activity, it would probably be a bad idea to close that card.
4. Mix of Credit (10%)
Generally speaking, if you have loans, such as a car loan, as well as open credit cards, it helps prove to creditors that you have experience borrowing money.
5. New Credit Applications (10%)There is a model that compensates for people shopping rates on home and car loans, but it can hurt your credit score to have multiple reports pulled in a short amount of time.
Factors That DO NOT Impact Credit:
- Employment History
- Marital Status
- If you’ve been turned down for credit
- Length of time at current address
- Whether you own a home or rent
- Information not contained in your credit report
Establishing New Credit:
Credit may be initially established through a bank, as a Secured line of credit, in which a credit card is linked to a specific amount of money deposited in the bank, typically $300-$500. If the credit card is not kept in good standing, the bank can then take the secured funds for payment.
This Secured line of credit will report to the Bureau, but won’t help the score very much until the bank decides to change it to an Unsecured line of credit. Then it will begin helping the credit score increase.
Initial credit may also be established with a department store credit card (for example), but borrowers should beware of the high interest rates associated with these cards and pay off the balances in full.
Several factors can be used to establish credit initially, though not on a credit report can include bank accounts, employment history, residence history and utility bills.
Although they are not reported directly to credit bureaus, bank account history may be important to lenders for first time loans and should be kept in good standing.
While they are also not reported to credit bureaus, utility bills (such as electric, telephone, cable and water) can, at times, also show a lender the risk associated with a new borrower.