As the new year approaches, the prospect of purchasing purchasing a home may be on your mind—an exciting goal that is never too early to start working towards. A key preparatory step for homeownership is establishing a strong credit score.
Lenders evaluate your credit to gauge your capacity for timely payments, debt repayment, and other financial factors. Additionally, your credit score plays a crucial role in determining the mortgage rate you qualify for. An article from CNBC explains:
“When it comes to mortgages, a higher credit score can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. This is because your credit score directly impacts your mortgage rate, which determines the amount of interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan.”
Given that mortgage rates significantly impact affordability, your credit score holds heightened importance in your current homebuying plans. It plays a crucial role in determining the cost of your mortgage, making it a pivotal factor in achieving financial feasibility, particularly in today’s market.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports that the median credit score for individuals obtaining a mortgage in the U.S. is 770. However, having a perfect credit score is not a prerequisite for securing a mortgage. An article from Business Insider outlines how your FICO score range, specifically falling within the “Good” (670 to 739) or “Very Good” (740 to 799) categories, can significantly influence your eligibility for a mortgage:
“. . . you don’t need a perfect credit score to buy a house. . . . Aiming to get your credit score in the ‘Good’ range (670 to 739) would be a great start towards qualifying for a mortgage. But if you’re wanting to qualify for the lowest rates, try to get your score within the ‘Very Good’ range (740 to 799).”
“While many lenders use credit scores like FICO Scores to help them make lending decisions, each lender has its own strategy, including the level of risk it finds acceptable. There is no single “cutoff score” used by all lenders and there are many additional factors that lenders may use to determine your actual interest rates.”
If you’re looking for ways to improve your score, Experian highlights some things you may want to focus on:
- Your Payment History: Late payments can negatively affect your credit score. It is crucial to prioritize making payments on time and promptly address any existing late charges to mitigate the impact on your credit score. Consistent and timely payments contribute to maintaining a positive credit history.
- Your Debt Amount (relative to your credit limits): In terms of your available credit, it’s advisable to keep your utilization low for optimal credit health. Strive to minimize the amount of credit you’re using, as lower utilization rates are viewed more favorably by credit scoring systems. This responsible credit management can positively influence your credit score.
- Credit Applications: If you’re planning to make a purchase, avoid applying for additional credit, as doing so may lead to a hard inquiry on your credit report. These inquiries can have a negative impact on your credit score. To maintain or improve your score, it’s prudent to minimize the number of hard inquiries by refraining from unnecessary credit applications, especially when preparing for a significant financial decision like buying a home.
A lender will guide you through the entire process, starting with assessing the range your credit score falls into. They will also provide detailed information about the specifics of each loan type, ensuring you have a comprehensive understanding of your options and assisting you in making informed decisions throughout the homebuying process.
As you prepare to buy a home in the coming year, prioritizing the improvement of your credit score can enhance your chances of securing a more favorable mortgage rate. For additional information and guidance, it’s recommended to connect with a reliable and trusted lender who can provide personalized insights into the homebuying process and assist you in achieving your financial goals.