Why your credit score matters
Your credit score plays a major role in determining whether a bank will lend you money, how much, and the interest rate that you’ll be able to get on your mortgage. Make sure your credit reports are accurate and up to date before you apply for a mortgage.
Improve your score
Improving your credit score can help in the process of getting approved for your mortgage.
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Here’s how to determine your credit score
By law, you’re allowed to check your credit report for free once per year.
Your credit score can range from 300 to 850. Most scores fall between 600 and 700. Lenders put a lot of emphasis on your credit score, because it helps them determine how likely you are to pay back your mortgage.
You can find more information about how to improve your credit and maintain good credit on sites like:
If you have a good credit rating, it can help you get better mortgage options and lower mortgage interest rates. Alternatively, a low credit score may lead to a higher interest rate on your mortgage to make up for the increased risk.
Here’s what your credit score contains:
Your credit report includes your name, any aliases, current and previous addresses, your Social Security number and possibly your marital status. When you review your credit report, make sure that this information is accurate and up to date.
Lines of credit
These include all regular installment or revolving credit lines, such as department store charge cards, auto loans, mortgages and credit cards. Your report should show information about each account, including the date you opened the account, your beginning balance, your current balance, and the number and frequency of any late payments.
Court records include bankruptcies, judgments, satisfied judgments, liens, satisfied liens and divorce. These may also be included in your credit report.
Each time you apply for credit and a potential credit grantor looks at your credit file, an “inquiry” appears on at least one of your credit bureau files. Inquiries can also appear when an existing credit grantor reviews your credit periodically (for example, to increase your credit line), or when you review your own credit report. Reviews of your credit file by existing lenders and your own annual review of your credit report will not affect your credit score.
Your credit report will not include information about your ethnicity, salary history, religion, checking or savings accounts, stocks and bonds, medical history or personal assets.
Here are a few ways you can improve your credit score
There are no quick fixes to improve your credit score. But if you work at it steadily, you can improve your score over time by consistently paying your bills on time, making payments for the minimum amount due and reducing your debt.
Pay all your bills on time every month
If you have trouble remembering when bills are due, consider setting up email or text payment reminders with your payees.
Pay at least the minimum on your credit card every month
Pay more if you can afford to.
Avoid using the full credit amount available
Try to keep your balances low compared to your total credit limit. Using a high percentage of your total credit limit may hurt your credit score.
Keep your credit card accounts open
Even if you’re no longer using a credit card, keeping it open can show a long credit history, which may help your score. Keeping unused accounts open can also result in a lower balance in relation to available credit. But don't apply for credit you don't need to increase your available limit - doing so may give the appearance of a negative change in your economic circumstances.
Correct any errors you find on your credit report
Credit reporting agencies record billions of transactions—including yours—every day. Given that huge volume, it’s not surprising that reporting errors can happen. When you get your credit report, review it carefully. If you see any errors, complete the dispute form provided by the credit reporting agency. The agency must investigate and respond to you within 30 days.
You can also request that the credit reporting agency send notification of the correction to all the creditors that have received your report in the last six months, including your prospective mortgage lender. Correcting errors in your credit report can help improve your credit score, as well as your chances of getting approved for a lower mortgage rate.
Credit history: One part of the big picture
When you order your credit report, keep in mind that your lender has a sense of proportion. Many people, at one time or another, have had trouble making a payment on time. Late payments don’t automatically disqualify you from getting a mortgage. Many people may find themselves in difficult financial situations because of illness, divorce, temporary unemployment or other circumstances.
Although your credit history is important, it’s still just one factor in the decision to approve your mortgage. If you can demonstrate that your credit problem is in the past and you’ve been able to re-establish a good track record, speak to your Mortgage Banker openly and honestly about your situation. They’ll work with you to evaluate your current credit profile and determine what mortgage options are best for you.