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Understanding Credit Scores

We enjoy helping people finance the homes of their dreams and are available to guide you through the complete home mortgage process — which includes understanding your credit score.

Your credit score is a number that helps predict how likely you are to repay a loan. Based on a summary of your overall credit history, it is one of the first things lenders examine when considering you for a loan. Credit scores range from 300 to 900 — 900 being best — with most scores falling between 600 and 700. The longer you’ve had credit established, the higher your score. In addition, if you make your payments on time, and are not close to reaching your credit limits, your score goes up.

FICO® is the best-known and most widely used credit score model in the United States. The three major credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use this software developed by Fair Isaac Corp. to rate your risk for assuming debt based on your credit history. Click here to calculate your FICO® score.

This number impacts what type of loan you will qualify for, the interest rate you will be charged — or even if you will be approved for a loan at all. That’s why maintaining good credit is so important.

One of the best ways to establish good credit is by making payments on time. It’s that simple to show lenders you are ready and willing to repay what you borrow — and can often earn you the lowest interest rates available.

Conversely, a pattern of late payments leads to a poor credit score and impacts your chances for loan approval — or results in your being labeled high risk and subjected to a higher-than-usual interest rate.

With determination, you can improve your credit score within a period of one to two years. Establish a pattern of paying on time, reduce your credit card balances and pay off outstanding loans. There is no instant fix; we recommend steering clear of credit repair companies. Please feel free to call one of our mortgage specialists if you have questions about your credit.

If you do not have an established credit history, but want to apply for a loan, lenders may accept alternative credit, such as a documented history of bills you’ve paid time such as rent or utilities.

Whether or not you are applying for a loan, we recommend ordering your free credit report annually as a fraud prevention strategy.