First-Time Buyer's Guide to Better Credit

Raise your FICO score  to buy a house in Tampa with RE/MAX Bay to Bay as your real estate professional - (813) 259-0000

Choosing a lender isn't the first step in becoming a homeowner. In reality, the home buying process starts with your finances. To make your goal of homeownership realized, you must consider your FICO score along with the type of loan for which you'll qualify in Tampa, Florida.

The Fair Isaac Company calculates your FICO score on the summary of your complete credit history. Most people traditionally have a score of 650, but scores are tiered from 300 to 850. Even though more people these days are experiencing job loss and delinquent credit cards, FICO scores aren't necessarily adjusted "on a curve." A low score is just that and often means you can't get a decent interest rate. Some of the pieces in summing up your FICO score include:

  • Payment History — Do you pay your bills on time each month?
  • Credit to Debt Ratio — How much do you owe versus your available credit?
  • Credit Inquiries — Do you have too many open accounts?
  • Types of Credit — Do you have a healthy mix of credit cards and loans?

When you pull your credit report, you'll find that you actually have three reports. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — three of the major credit reporting agencies — use a slightly different models to determine your credit rating. FICO is used by Experian. Equifax's model is called BEACON and TransUnion uses EMPIRICA. This means you have three scores, one for each scoring model.

When you apply for a mortgage or any other loan, lenders want to make sure that extending a loan to you isn't a risk. Your credit score gives lenders an insight into what type of borrower you'll be based solely on your credit history. Because of the shift in the economy, most home buyers should have scores in the range of 740 or higher to get an acceptable interest rate. If your score is lower, you can still qualify for a loan, but the interest accrued in the long run could be more than double the amount of an individual having a better FICO score.

Improving your credit is the best way to ease into buying a home. Contact us and we can help you get on the right track to the home of your dreams.

How do you get a higher score? Building your FICO score takes time. It can be rare to make a large-scale change in your credit score with small changes, but your score can improve in a year or two by keeping tabs your credit report and by wisely using credit. The best way to do this is to know your FICO score. Here are some methods to improve your credit score:


Raise your FICO score  to buy a property in Tampa with RE/MAX Bay to Bay as your real estate agent - (813) 259-0000
  • Store cards and service station cards. For those who have non-existent credit or less-than-stellar credit, retail credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to get credit, increase your credit limits and keep up your payments, which will raise your FICO score. You must always avoid charging a high balance for too long because these types of cards traditionally have a steeper interest rate.
  • Keep your cards in rotation. Whether you have older cards, or are just getting started with credit, be sure to use your cards to make sure your accounts stay active. But, make sure you pay them off in no more than two or three payments.
  • Keep up with payments. Late payments kill your FICO score. It's where people who have recently been unemployed see the biggest hit in their credit score. Yes, it takes longer to rebuild your credit with payment history, but it's the most reliable way to prove that you're responsible enough to make payments to a lender.
  • Correct your credit report. If you discover mistakes on your credit report, write to the bureau requesting that the item be removed. If you have a common name or the same name as a family member, you'll want to pay extra attention to make sure the activity reported is correct.
  • Even out your debt. At first, this doesn't seem like a good idea. But, you want to avoid of having one card that is at the maximum and have your remaining cards at a zero balance. It's better to have each of your cards at a lower balance than to have all of your debt taking up the balance a single card.

Knowing the ways you can build up your FICO score, you're one step closer to becoming a homeowner. Keep in mind that when you're ready to apply for a loan to purchase a home, you'll want to keep your lender applications within a two-week window to avoid adverse effects on your credit score. With the help of RE/MAX Bay to Bay, the loan application process can be a stress-free experience so you, too, can become a homeowner.

To learn more, visit myFICO.com, Fair Isaac's informational site and review your credit history for free at annualcreditreport.com. And, for a small payment, you can get your FICO score from each bureau on their websites: equifax.com, experian.com and transunion.com.