About the FICO Credit Score

Since we live in an computer-driven world, it's not surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage comes down to just one number. The years of paying your various bills: your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, sliced, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

Each of the three credit agencies has its own formula for building your credit score. The original FICO score was developed by Fair Isaac and Company. Experian uses this model and calls its score FICO. Equifax's model, based on FICO, is called BEACON, while TransUnion, which also uses a slightly modified FICO, calls its score EMPIRICA. While the formulas vary from one agency to another, the differences aren't huge; all of the agencies use the following factors to build your credit score:

  • Credit History - How long have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Do you have a history of late payments?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you hold, and how much do you owe on them?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

These factors are weighted slightly differently depending on the formula being used. Each formula produces a single number which varies slightly by agency. FICO scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is better. Typical home buyers will likely find their FICO scores above 620.

Not just for qualifying

FICO scores affect more than your ability to get a loan. They also affect your interest rate. Lenders give lower interest rates to individuals with higher scores.

Improving your score

Is it possible to raise your credit score? Some companies promise quick fixes, but they can't do anything different than what you can do — for free. You should, of course, remove any incorrect reporting on your credit report, which is the only "quick fix" for credit troubles.

Know your FICO

Before you can improve your FICO score, you must obtain your score and be sure that the reports from each agency are correct. Fair Isaac, the corporation that invented the original FICO credit score, sells scores on myFICO.com. It's inexpensive to get your FICO from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are helpful information and tools that can help you understand how to improve your credit score.

You can get a free credit report every year from the three major agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports do not include a free credit score, but it's very inexpensive to get one at the same time.

Now that you have all the facts, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the right mortgage for you.

Want to know more about your FICO score? Call us: (707) 252-2700.

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