If you are considering buying a home or refinancing, the subject of credit scores has undoubtedly come up. So, what is a credit score and how does it impact you?
Understanding the Credit Score and Mortgage Relationship
In the 1960s, the concept of credit scores came to fruition. A company by the name of Fair Isaac Corp developed a system whereby credit reports could be summarized as a score. This score, known as a FICO score, could be used by lenders to determine the credit worthiness of a potential borrower. The highest FICO score you can have is 850 while the lowest is 350. Where you fall on the scale determines the type of loan you will get.
Cutting the chase, a credit score is a factual summary of your credibility. What it tells a lender is how you have behaved from a financial perspective over a period of years. If you have regularly missed credit card payments, the lender is going to consider it an indication you will be likely to miss mortgage payments as well. Obviously, that is going to result in a denial of your loan application or vicious terms in the lender’s favor.
As you might image, your credit score impacts both the approval and terms of your home loan. The higher your score, the better position you will be in. While a score above 800 is considered perfect credit, almost nobody has such a FICO score. In fact, most lenders wouldn’t believe such a score and would probably take extra steps to investigate it.
Most people seem to fall in the 500 to 600 range. While this may suggest problems in dealing with a lender, it doesn’t. Lenders rarely expect to see perfect credit scores for borrowers. Instead, they expect to see flaws. The approval and terms of your loan all come down to the shades of grey in your score and how lenders interpret them.
When evaluating these shades of grey, lenders do so on a risk basis. Generally, a score of 720 to 850 is considered excellent, while a score of 500 to 560 is considered high risk. 560 to 620 is not great, but 675 to 720 is fair to good. 620 to 675 is considered average. Importantly, there are lenders that will provide loans for each of these ranges. Your particular score is really only an indication of how good or bad a deal you will receive.
If you have a high credit score, you should negotiate hard for the best possible deal on your mortgage. If your credit score falls in the 500 range, you are pretty much going to have to accept whatever you can get.