How to Whip Your Credit into Shape for Buying a Home

How to Whip Your Credit into Shape for Buying a HomeYou need a good credit score to help secure the best deals when buying a Lake of the Ozarks/Truman Lake home.  The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate will be and the lower your monthly mortgage payment will be.  Let’s face it, though.  Not everyone has stellar credit.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won’t even consider applicants with a score of less than 620.  But, how do you whip your credit into shape for buying a home?  The key is to start now.

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The first thing you will need to do is to get a copy of your credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com, the only official site to to to for your free credit report.  You are legally entitled to one free report from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) every 12 months.  Not all creditors report their information to all three agencies.  Your credit score can vary quite a bit from one agency to the next.  That’s why it’s important to pull your report from all three.

Once you receive your report, examine it thoroughly to make sure all the information is correct.  Not only do you need to make sure that all the accounts listed actually belong to you, but you also need to make sure that the status of these accounts is correct.  For example, if you made arrangements to pay a delinquent account but it shows that the company charged it off instead, this can have a bigger negative effect on your credit score.  When you find errors, you will need to contact the credit agency it was reported to in writing as well as the company that reported it.  Explain the error, provide documentation as proof of your claim and request that the error be corrected.

Next, put a freeze on applying for any new credit.  This includes cars, appliances, furniture, department store cards and even changing your cable service.  Every time a business makes an inquiry about your credit, your score gets hit a few points.  This can quickly turn you from credit-worthy to undesirable by loan companies.

Now is the time to start paying down debt.  You want your debt-to-income ratio to be low as well as your credit used vs credit available.  Many financial experts recommend that you keep your credit card balance at less than 34% of your credit limit to show financial stability.  For example, if you have a credit card with a $3000 limit, your balance should never exceed $1000.  On the other hand, don’t close your credit accounts entirely either.  If you had four cards with a total limit of $10,000 and carried a balance totaling $3200, your credit used vs available would be 32%.  However, if you closed one of those cards that had a limit of $3000, your credit used vs credit available would increase to 45.7% ($3200 total balance with $7000 total limit).  Hold off on closing any unused accounts until after you have closed escrow on your new Twin Lakes home.

Finally, avoid the urge to move existing balances onto a new credit card.  This won’t decrease your debt load and your score may actually go down slightly when opening the new card.  Besides, a new credit card won’t erase the history of the debt on your credit report.

If you’re planning on purchasing a Lake of the Ozarks/Twin Lakes home in the next few months, start whipping your credit into shape now.  Time is of the essence.  You want to get your financial situation in the best shape possible before you apply for a loan in order to get the best deals available.  Even a 1/2% difference in interest rate will either save or cost you thousands of dollars over the life of your home loan.  That’s nothing to sneeze at!  Contact us when you’re ready to start looking at living the lake lifestyle.

Crist & Sharon Fanning, Your Link to the Lake Lifestyle

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