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 boils down to a single number. This score is created by credit reporting agencies. They use the payment history of all of your loans: mortgages, car/motorcycle/boat loans, credit cards, and others.

The three agencies use slightly different formulas to build 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 these methods vary, all of the agencies use the following to build a score:

  • Your Credit History - How long have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Your Credit Card Balances - How many accounts do you hold, and how much do you owe on them?
  • Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of giving you a loan?

These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. The result is one number. FICO scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is always better. Typical home buyers will probably find their credit scores falling between 620 and 800.

Credit scores make a huge difference in interest rates

Did you know? FICO scores are used for more than just determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. Lenders give lower interest rates to individuals with higher scores.

Can I raise my FICO score?

How can you raise your credit score? Despite what you hear from "credit repair" companies, the score is calculated from your lifetime credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. You must remove any incorrect reporting on your credit report, which is the only "quick fix" for credit problems.

Getting your FICO score

In order to improve your credit score, you must get the reports that the agencies use to build it. Of course, you need the score as well. Fair Isaac has created a web site (www.myFICO.com) that lets you do just that. It's inexpensive to quickly get your FICO score from all three agencies, along with your credit report. They also provide information and tools that can help you improve your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report every year from all three agencies by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. While this report does not include a free credit score, the cost to "upgrade" your report to include a credit score is very reasonable.

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

Curious about your credit score? Call us at 703.255-5810.

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