It is no question that CREDIT SCORE is one of the biggest drivers in what will be your final interest rate, type of home loan, and how much home you can afford. The following are 6 tips to improve your credit score before you GO and get involved in a new home purchase and going UNDER CONTRACT.
Update for 2021: Opportunities to improve your credit score with tax refunds or stimulus checks
In 2021 most Americans also received unexpected COVID relief payments from the government. This extra money can definitely be used in ways that can help your credit score. Find out how to increase your credit score using your tax refund or stimulus check.
Now lets have a look at 6 ways to get your credit score in shape before you get qualified for a mortgage.
1. OPEN TRADELINES
It is imperative that to have a high credit score that you have OPEN TRADELINES. Whether it be a student loan in repayment, a credit card, or an auto loan, these are all considered OPEN LINES OF REVOLVING CREDIT, and the only way to build credit is to HAVE CREDIT. If you have no credit cards, no debts and liabilities, that is all fine and dandy, however it does absolutely NOTHING in helping you qualify for the best interest rate possible. UNDERWRITERS want to see a credit history. The better the history, the better your score.
2. LOW DEBT TO HIGH LIMIT BALANCES
Let's say you have all the above. Student Loans, Credit Cards, and an Auto Loan. You have a $2500 Capital One Card with a $2400 balance, and a VISA Card with a $500 limit and $500 balance. You have no lates on any credit cards, and you pay your bills on time. Between the two cards, you have REVOLVING CREDIT of $3000, however you are MAXED OUT on both cards, and only currently have $100 in available credit. This will drastically reduce your credit score because you have no REVOLING CREDIT LEFT.
It is imperative that on all credit cards, you maintain a 35% DEBT TO HIGH LIMIT BALANCE BEFORE applying for a home loan. You should have no more then an $875 balance on your Capital One Card, and a $175 balance on your VISA. This will ensure that your scores will remain high, because you are responsible about your revolving credit, and not MAXING IT OUT.
3. AVOID 30 days late
You can be 29 days late, as long as your creditor does not report you as 30 days late, which they will do, if you do not pay your bills on time. This is the day that they will report you as derogative on your account, and things like this will crush a score, and will be harder to remove later. Even if it is a minimum payment of $15, make it!!! You are costing yourself thousands of dollars in lost interest, if you do not follow this guideline.
Collections are when your credit card goes into default, and is picked up by a collection agency. At this time, you probably have 3-6 30 day late payments, and this can really kill a credit score. Call the Collection Agency, and pay this debt immedietely. Usually they bought your debt for 20% on the dollar, so you can negotiate with them for a less then full settlement. Get this done!
5. LIENS, JUDGEMENTS
No financial institution will finance you for a home loan if you have any outstanding liens and judgements. Clear this up through the county, and get these off your record, BEFORE you apply for a home loan.
6. Get Negative Items Removed From Your Credit Report
You don't have to settle for negative items on your credit report. There are ways you can go about getting things removed.
- File a dispute with the credit bureau.
- File a dispute with the reporting business (eg. credit cards and banks).
- Sign up for professional credit repair.
- Consult with a credit counselor.
- Settle (pay off) in exchange for deleting the item from your report.
- Write a letter of "Goodwill".
- Wait, in some cases up to 7 years for items to be removed.
To view each one of these actions in more detail view this article on removing negative items from your credit report.
There are other tips and tricks to help improve your credit score however the above 6 tips should ensure you a non-event of surprise when applying for a home loan. For a FREE copy of your credit report, you can go to www.freecreditreport.com
If you have questions about applying for a home loan, and want to know what you need to get pre-qualified, please call me at (720) 524-3215 or contact me today!
About the Author
Brian Quigley has been in the Denver mortgage industry since 2003. Customer satisfaction has been his top priority while guiding clients through the home loan qualification process. He is proficient in all types of mortgage financing including FHA/VA, Conventional, USDA, Jumbo, Portfolio, 1031 Exchanges, Reverse Mortgages, Refinancing, Construction loans, and FHA 203K loans.