credit score increaseFor many, the summer is the best time of the year to buy a new home. Plus, rates are currently at a two-year low, so now is a great time to buy! First Bank Mortgage would like to remind clients of the importance of knowing their credit score before shopping for a new home.

Whether you’re renting or buying, your credit score is significant. It is important for you to responsibly manage your debt levels and maintain good credit reports so that you are more attractive to mortgage lenders.

First Bank Mortgage suggests the following tips to improve your credit score:

  1. Request a copy of your credit score report – and make sure it is correct. Your credit report illustrates your credit performance, and it needs to be accurate so that you can apply for other loans, such as a mortgage. Everyone is entitled to receive a free copy of his or her credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies, but you must go through the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.annualcreditreport.com, or call 1-877-322-8228. Note, you may have to pay for the numerical credit score itself.
  2. Set up automatic bill pay. Payment history makes up 32 percent of your VantageScore credit score and 35 percent of your FICO credit score. The longer you pay your bills on time, the better your score. Avoid missed payments by setting as many of your bills to automatic bill pay as possible. First Bank’s eBanking feature offers FREE bill pay.
  3. Build credit through renting. VantageScore’s scoring model, created by the three major credit bureaus, will now weigh rent and utility payment records. This will allow it to score as many as 35 million people who previously couldn’t get a credit score.
  4. Keep balances low on credit cards and ‘revolving credit.’ Racking up big balances can hurt your scores, regardless of whether you pay your bills in full each month. You often can increase your scores by limiting your charges to 30 percent or less of a card's limit.
  5. Apply for and open new credit accounts, only as needed. Keep this in mind the next time a retailer offers you 10 percent off if you open an account. However, if you need a new line of credit, don’t jump at the first appealing offer; compare rates and fees offered through mail solicitation, on the Internet, or at your local bank.
  6. Don’t close old, paid off accounts. According to FICO, closing accounts can never help your score and can, in fact, damage it. Regularly monitor and review all open accounts.
  7. Talk to credit counselors if you’re in trouble. Using legitimate, non-profit credit counseling can help you manage your debt and won’t hurt your credit score. For more information on debt management, contact the National Foundation for Consumer Credit (www.nfcc.org).

If you’d like to learn more about the steps in buying a new home, contact the team at First Bank Mortgage. They can walk you through the homebuying process!

* ABA, American Bankers Association. Equal Housing Lender