Joseph Reidy's Blog
Believe it or not, your credit score can make a world of difference as you get ready to search for your ideal house. If you have an excellent credit score, you likely will have no trouble obtaining home financing. On the other hand, if you have a bad credit score, you may struggle to get the financing you need to make your homeownership dream come true.
Ultimately, there are many reasons why you should try to boost your credit score before you purchase a home, and these include:
1. You can simplify the homebuying process.
Purchasing a home can be challenging, particularly for property buyers who fail to get pre-approved for financing. Luckily, if you request copies of your credit reports, you can find out your credit score and identify ways to improve it. Perhaps most important, you can explore ways to bolster your credit score before you submit a mortgage application and increase the likelihood that you can receive pre-approval for a mortgage.
It usually is a good idea to review your credit reports before you enter the housing market. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). If you request a copy of your credit report from the three reporting bureaus, you can learn your credit score and plan accordingly.
2. You may qualify for a low interest rate on a mortgage.
An excellent credit score may help you get a low interest rate on a mortgage. Thus, if you have an excellent credit score, you may wind up reducing your monthly mortgage payments.
Of course, a low interest rate on a mortgage may allow you to invest in your home as well. If you use the money that you save on your mortgage to complete home improvements, you could upgrade your residence and increase its value over time.
3. You can select the right mortgage option based on your individual needs.
With an outstanding credit score, there likely will be no shortage of lenders that are willing to work with you. As such, you can review a broad range of mortgage options and choose one that matches your expectations.
If you need to improve your credit score, there's no need to worry. Typically, paying off outstanding debt will help you boost your credit score prior to buying a house.
Furthermore, if you receive a credit report and identify errors on it, contact the bureau that provided the report. This will enable you to make any corrections right away.
And if you need help as you get ready to pursue your dream house, don't hesitate to reach out to a real estate agent too. A real estate agent can put you in touch with the top lenders in your area and make it easy to obtain home financing. Plus, this housing market professional will enable you to evaluate residences in your preferred cities and towns and find one that you can enjoy for an extended period of time.
While working from home and making your own schedule, either freelance or as a contract worker, allows for a particular type of freedom and control of schedules, a dress codes, income limitations, and your life, when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage, your 1099-MISC status comes with some drawbacks.
The so-called “gig-economy” places workers squarely in the “self-employed” column with its tax breaks that reduce the bottom line, letting you keep more of the money you work for. Unfortunately, the mortgage banking industry has not completely caught up to the new reality. The challenge is differing between “provable” income while retaining the tax advantages of self-employment.
Conventional Mortgage Lenders
Typically, the mortgage industry bases your credit-worthiness on provable income. Underwriters (the folks tasked with determining your creditworthiness) use W-2 forms and tax returns to qualify homebuyers for a conventional loan. Without these standard forms, proving your income is difficult for many self-employed would-be homeowners.
Conventional lenders follow a prescribed formula to prove income and credit-worthiness, so many mortgage underwriters merely look at your after-tax and post-deduction income. The result for 1099 workers is a lower provable income than the reality of most entrepreneurs or self-employed workers situation. Certain expenses such as one-time investments in equipment or product, and some depletions or deductions for your existing home, add back into your income on paper, but qualifying with 1099 income requires extra effort on your part.
Unconventional Mortgage Lenders
Conventional lenders offer conventional loans. These are loans qualified for selling on to FreddieMac or FannieMae. Alternative loans—those provided by smaller lenders and investors that hope to realize a better return than a conventional loan offers—might be a more likely option for the self-employed. These loans are not without some added risk. To make them attractive to investors, the interest rate on non-conforming loans typically is higher, and down-payment requirements might be higher as well. Some alternative mortgages with lower interest rates or lower down-payments might be available to self-employed borrowers with exceptionally great credit or an extensive portfolio.
Plan two years in advance: position yourself to qualify for a loan. Once you know where you stand, you can work to move into better condition to qualify. Organize your books and keep accurate financial records. You need to prove your income, so use an invoicing system to show receivables. Often, lenders want to look at two or more years of both tax returns and bank statements. They want to see an average over 24 months to determine your annual income and your ability to pay your mortgage. Keep profit and loss statements, expense reports and a balance sheet. If your accounting is complicated, get professional help. Utilizing a professional bookkeeper and CPA might just save you money and show you have solid business intent.
Save up a more substantial down payment: The more you put down, the less you need to borrow. Showing consistent savings also proves your ability to set money aside and prioritize savings and spending.
Improve your credit score: Sometimes it seems your credit score doesn’t make sense. After all, the calculations and formulas used remain a mystery. You can make significant strides in increasing your score though, by paying attention to two things: payment history and credit utilization.
- Payment history is just what it sounds like—the history of how you pay your bills. Avoid paying late and try to pay early. Your payment history makes up more than thirty-three percent of your total score.
- Credit utilization—the ration of how much credit you have available to how much you’ve used—is another large chunk of your score. If you have a credit card with $2500 available, and you’ve only used $250 (on average) you are using just ten percent of your available credit. On the other hand, if your card only has $250 available and you’ve used just $125 you have used half of the available credit. The higher the percent of your combined usage to your combined credit (all credit cards, personal loans, vehicle loans, etc.) the lower your score.
- The remaining parts of your credit score relate to the length of time you’ve had credit, how many accounts are new, how often you apply for credit and a mix of other bits of information. To help this area, avoid applying for credit cards, car loans or personal loans (furniture, appliances, etc.) for the two years leading up to when you apply for a mortgage. When you pay off a credit card, cut up the card or put it away, but avoid closing the account. Older accounts have a higher point value compared to newer ones, even if you aren’t currently using them.
Start now working on your credit and establishing the best accounting practices to prove your income. Speak with a mortgage lender for information on what it takes to pre-qualify for a loan in your situation.
You know that your credit score is incredibly important when you want to buy a home. There’s certain things that you could be doing in your everyday life that are hurting your credit score. Here’s what you need to avoid in order to keep your credit score up:
Don’t Allow For Too Many Credit Inquiries
When you’re at the checkout lane at the store, and the clerk informs you that you can save a lot of money if you just open this instant credit card on the spot, that can pose a problem. The issue with this is that the store will be instantly checking your credit score as well. These inquiries hang on your credit report for a certain amount of time. Certain inquiries can also make your score dip. Too many credit inquiries can make lenders suspicious of your ability to be a dependable borrower.
Unpaid Bills Can Add Up
If you forget to pay small credit card bills here and there, it could add up. Think of things like library books, medical bills, and credit card payments. That unreturned library fee that you never paid could come back to haunt you. A medical bill that was sent to collections can become a problem on your credit report. Most of the time, all you need to do is pay these fees up for your score to bounce back.
Credit Report Errors
Your credit report could have incorrect information about your financial situation and records. Your credit score could be dragged down just because of some errors on the report. If you do find an error on your report, you’ll be able to submit a claim to rectify the error.
Using Too Much Of Your Available Credit
Just because a credit limit is at $5,000, doesn’t mean that you need to max it out. Even if you pay your bills each month, using too much of your available credit can really harm your score. For your credit score to be calculated and to see how loan worthy you are, your total available credit and how much of that total credit is being used will be put into a formula. Beware of how much of your credit you use in order to keep that score up.
Not Touching Your Credit
You actually need to use your credit in order to build your score. You need credit history in order to have something for loan officers to work with. Accounts that become inactive over time will be closed by default and actually negatively impact your score.
By using your credit responsibly, you’ll keep your credit score up and be in good shape to buy a house.