You’ve heard over and over that now is the time to buy. House prices are increasing and mortgage rates are at historical lows and you know you need to get into the game. But what do you do if your credit doesn’t look that great? Here are 4 things you can do to improve your credit score so that you’re ready to buy your first house.
1. Get copies of your credit report and make sure it’s accurate.
Errors on your credit report can force you to pay a higher interest rate or even disqualify you from getting a mortgage at all. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com
and get a free report from each of the three national credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) According to federal law, you’re eligible for a free report every twelve months. Check for any errors, accounts that aren’t yours, or negative marks older than seven years. Make sure lenders have reported your credit limits accurately, because they can affect your credit score.
2. Make all your payments on-time.
The easiest way to build up your credit score is to make every payment on-time. If you don’t have a good bill-paying system, you can set up automatic payments from your bank account to help you pay on time.
3. Improve your debt-to-credit ratio.
The credit-scoring process looks at the ratio of your debt to the total amount of available credit you have. While your credit card might have a $10,000 maximum balance, having it maxed out looks bad to potential lenders and doesn’t look good on your credit history. Some lenders may consider multiple maxed out balances to be a sign of irresponsibility on your part. Your long-term goal is to get rid of all your debt, but a good, short-term target is to shrink your ratio to less than 50 percent. Then 40, then 30, and so on.
4. Pay it off, but don’t close it out.
Because Lenders looks at your debt-to-credit ratio, having an account with a $0 balance but a high credit limit can be a good thing. Lenders also look to see the length of time an account has been opened. They want to know that you can handle debt on a long-term basis because they are considering loaning you a large sum of money for 30 years. Avoid opening up new accounts just to increase your credit limit. Adding accounts too quickly sends up a red flag that you might not be able to handle your credit responsibly.
If you’re planning on buying your first home in the near future, follow these tips to help raise your credit score and build a well-rounded credit history that will make lenders want to loan you the money for your mortgage. Contact a mortgage professional at Walden Mortgage
for more information on purchasing your first home.