Credit Scores Explained Simply

Your credit score impacts many of your important life decisions. From your ability to open new credit cards, to taking out loans for cars and houses, your credit will be checked by many companies throughout your life.

Credit scores are mostly a mystery to the people who have them. Sure, you can check your credit score for free online, but when it comes to understanding your score, most consumers are in the dark.

In a perfect world, we would be taught in high school and college exactly what goes into your credit score, how to build credit, and how to avoid credit missteps. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world and many of us don’t find out what makes up a credit score until we’re in debt from student loans or credit cards.

In this article,  we’ll teach you what a credit score is, what it consists of, and how it is affected by your financial decisions. And, we’ll do it in an easy-to-understand way that skips all of the jargon and acronyms that are used by banks and lenders. Read on to learn everything you need to know about your credit score.

What is a credit score?

Simply put, your credit score tells lenders how safe it is to lend money to you, i.e., the likeliness of you paying back your debt to them. In the United States, credit scores are awarded by three major companies. Since they use slightly different methods of scoring your credit, your score can vary slightly between them. What they all have in common, however, is that they put together your score based on your financial history (or lack thereof). How do they come about your score?

Parts of a credit score

Think of an Olympic diver who just took a perfect dive. The judges off to the side are going to score her on a few different factors: her approach, her flight, and her entry into the water. They’ll award her a number based on her dive and then those numbers are averaged to give her a score.

Credit is scored in a similar way. You aren’t judged just based on your payments or just based on how long you’ve had a credit card. Rather, you’re judged based on a combination of five main things. For your FICO score (the score used by the majority of banks and lenders) those are:

  • 35% – payment history
  • 30% – current debt
  • 15% – how long you’ve had credit
  • 10% – types of credit
  • 10% – new credit

As you can see, the most important factors that make up your credit score revolve around how much you owe and if you pay your bills on time. Having high amounts of debt or credit cards that are maxed out (meaning you hit the spending limit), your score can be lowered. Similarly, your score can be lowered every time you miss a bill payment. However, if you do miss a payment and your score is lowered, it can be recovered by making on-time payments.

Your credit score is also influenced by the length of your credit history (15%): when you opened your first credit card or took out your first loan. The longer you’ve been making on-time payments the better.

The last two factors that make up your score are the types of credit you have (10%) and new credit (10%). Having many different types of credit (home loan, credit card, student loan, auto loan, etc.) will improve your score so long as you’re making on-time payments. However, opening up new credit rapidly is a red flag for lenders that you might be in financial trouble, hurting your score.

 

 

Best Practices for Creating a Competitive Home Offer

Looking to put together an offer on a house? Ultimately, you’ll want to submit a competitive first offer. By doing so, you can speed up the process of acquiring your dream residence.

When it comes to submitting a competitive home offer, however, it is important to understand what differentiates a “fair” proposal from a subpar one.

To better understand how to submit a competitive proposal, let’s take a look at three best practices that every homebuyer needs to consider before making an offer on a house.

1. Evaluate the Housing Market

If you plan to buy a house, you’ll want to examine the real estate market closely. That way, you can identify housing market patterns and trends and plan accordingly.

For example, if you find there is an abundance of high-quality houses available, you may be entering a buyer’s market. In this market, there likely is a shortage of homebuyers, which means a competitive offer at or near a home seller’s asking price is sure to grab this individual’s attention.

On the other hand, if you notice that homes are selling quickly in a city or town, you may need to prepare for a seller’s market. If you pursue houses in a seller’s market, you may need to act quickly due to the sheer volume of buyers competing for the same residences.

Clearly, a comprehensive housing market analysis can make a world of difference for homebuyers. With in-depth housing market insights at your disposal, you’ll be better equipped than other buyers to submit a competitive first offer on any residence, regardless of the current real estate market’s conditions.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

What good is a competitive home offer if you cannot afford to buy a residence? If you secure a home loan, you can narrow your home search to properties that you can afford. Then, you’ll be able to submit a competitive offer that ensures you won’t have to break your budget to purchase your dream residence.

Also, if you’re unsure about how your financial situation will impact your ability to buy a house, you should consult with banks and credit unions in your area. These financial institutions can help you get pre-approved for a home loan, establish a homebuying budget and much more.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to submitting a competitive home offer, it pays to receive expert homebuying support. Fortunately, you can hire a real estate agent who is happy to help you put together a competitive home offer.

A real estate agent can provide housing market data that you may struggle to obtain elsewhere. Plus, this housing market professional can offer unbiased home offer recommendations to ensure you can get an instant “Yes” from a home seller.

Collaborating with a real estate agent is a great option for homebuyers in all cities and towns. Reach out to local real estate agents today, and you can get the help you need to submit a competitive offer on any residence.

Prepare a Mortgage Application

Filling out a mortgage application may prove to be a long, arduous process, particularly for those who are buying a house for the first time. Lucky for you, we’re here to help you dot the I’s and cross the T’s on your mortgage application to ensure you can quickly and effortlessly acquire your dream house.

Now, let’s take a look at three tips to help you prepare your mortgage application.

1. Be Diligent

A mortgage application may appear daunting at first. The application may include several pages of questions, and you may have only a limited amount of time to finalize your submission.

When it comes to completing a mortgage application, it generally pays to be diligent. If you answer each mortgage application question to the best of your ability, you likely will have no trouble moving forward with your home purchase.

2. Avoid Guessing

If you’re uncertain about how to respond to certain mortgage application questions, there is no need to guess. Instead, search for the information that you need to provide a comprehensive response. This will help reduce the risk of encountering potential problems down the line that otherwise could slow down your home acquisition.

Remember, guessing on a mortgage application probably won’t do you or your lender any favors. But if you allocate the necessary time and resources to understand mortgage application questions and provide thoughtful responses, you can minimize the risk of application errors.

3. Ask Questions

Completing a mortgage application sometimes can be tricky. Fortunately, a lender employs mortgage specialists who are happy to respond to your application concerns or questions at any time.

If you’re unsure about information that is requested on a mortgage application, don’t hesitate to reach out to a lender’s mortgage specialists for help. These specialists possess extensive mortgage expertise and can help you complete a mortgage application.

Furthermore, mortgage specialists can offer insights into a wide array of mortgage options. These specialists can explain the differences between fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages and enable you to select the right mortgage option based on your financial situation.

As you prepare to buy a house, you may want to consult with a real estate agent as well. In fact, with a real estate agent at your side, you can seamlessly navigate the homebuying process.

A real estate agent understands exactly what it takes to acquire a house, regardless of the finances at your disposal. This housing market professional can set up home showings, help you submit offers on houses and ensure you can purchase a residence that matches or exceeds your expectations. And if you need help getting a mortgage, a real estate agent may even be able to connect you with the top lenders in your city or town.

Ready to move forward in the homebuying journey? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can finalize a mortgage application and secure the financing that you need to acquire your ideal residence.