About the FICO Credit Score

Since we live in an automated world, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage loan comes down to a single number. The FICO score is created by credit agencies. These agencies use the payment history of all of your loans: mortgages, car/motorcycle loans, credit cards, and others.

TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, the three major credit reporting agencies, each have their own proprietary formula for building a credit score. Fair Isaac and Cooriginally developed this score. . 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 each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, the differences aren't huge; they all use the following to build a score:

  • Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Do you pay your bills on time?
  • Your Credit Card Balances - How many accounts? How much do you owe?
  • Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit for the purpose of giving you a loan?

Each of these factors is assigned a value and a weight. Each formula produces a single number which may vary slightly by agency. FICO scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher is always better. Most home buyers in the current environment have a score above 620.

FICO makes a huge difference in your interest rate

Did you know? FICO scores affect more than your ability to get a loan. They also affect your interest rate. Higher scores indicate you are a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

Improving your score

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. Because the score is entirely based on your lifelong credit history, it is hard to change it quickly. (Of course you can and should have incorrect items removed from your credit report.)

Getting your FICO score

Before you can improve your score, you must obtain your score and make certain that the credit reports from each agency are correct. Fair Isaac has created a web site (www.myFICO.com) that lets you do just that. For a reasonable fee, you can get your FICO from all three agencies, along with your credit report. They also provide information and tools that help you understand how to improve your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report every year from the three major credit reporting agencies by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting it is fast and very inexpensive.

Now that you have all the facts, you'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the most favorable mortgage.

Want to know more about credit scores? Give us a call at (718) 477-4405.

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