In the lending process, one of the most important things that brokers look at when determining if an applicant should be approved or denied for a mortgage is credit score. Credit score refers to the three-digit number that represents how well you handle money. Credit scores are calculated through data records that come from previous statements, monetary amounts owed, length of one’s credit history, new credit, and types of credit used. There are three different credit scores: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. FICO scores are what most lenders check when applicants are applying for a loan. There are three FICO scores checked, one for each respective bureau, to determine risk. FICO scores range from 300 to 850, and the higher the number is, the better credit one has.
According to the FHA, “Generally speaking, to get maximum financing on typical new home purchases, applicants should have a credit score of 580 or better.” Lenders will look at your score before approving you, and often during the loan process as well to make sure that nothing has changed. If your score is a bit lower than 580, don’t sweat it. As long as your credit future looks promising, you still can potentially get a mortgage, you just may have to pay a higher down payment. If you’re in the clear, congratulations! You are one step closer to owning your dream home. However, regardless of score, it is essential to avoid these 5 things when you’re applying for a mortgage that can potentially destroy your credit score.
1. Opening up a new line of credit– There are two types of inquiries when it comes to someone wanting access to your credit- soft inquiries and hard inquiries. A soft inquiry occurs when you want to check your own credit score, potential employers run background checks on you, or other small questions. A hard inquiry is a serious check into your credit either conducted by a lender, credit card issuer, or other financial institution. These hard lower your credit score for a few points and stay on there for up to two years. They must be authorized. When you open up another or multiple lines of credit during the lending process, this raises a red flag to your lender that you’re desperate for credit.
2. Closing a credit card account– On the opposite end of the spectrum, closing credit card accounts can also lower your credit score and cause issues when you are applying for a mortgage. According to Next Avenue, when you close out a credit card or consolidate all of your credit card debt onto one account, your credit score will take a ding. The article states “when you close a credit card account, you lose the amount of available credit on that card. This increases what’s known as your credit utilization ratio, or CUR, a figure that compares the amount of credit you’ve used with the total amount of credit you have available. The way to maximize your credit score is to have a low utilization ratio.” Avoid this when applying for a mortgage.
3. Not paying your bills on time– This is a given… but sometimes we forget that even the smallest slip in not paying bills can be an issue when it comes to your credit score. If you don’t already, set up reminders for every bill that needs to be paid a few days in advance to the due date.
4. Shopping around for a mortgage– It is extremely important to check your options when looking for a mortgage in order to secure the best rate possible. However, your FICO score takes a hit with multiple inquiries from different lenders. To compensate for this, within 30 days of a mortgage inquiry, additional inquiries are lumped into the first. What does this mean? If you are shopping around for the best mortgage rate, do so within a concentrated 30-day or less period.
5. Co-signing loans– As a parent, helping your child with a loan may seem like the best option to help them build credit, but be very careful when co-signing with your children for finances. It is in fact a good way to build their credit up, however, if they miss a payment it could shave up to 50 points off of your credit score. If you do co-sign, make sure to set reminders for when payments are due to remind your child and ensure that no payment will fall through the cracks. Yikes!
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