When applying for a mortgage loan, lenders consider the borrower’s credit as one of the most important factors to determine eligibility. Experian, TransUnion and Equifax are the three credit agencies that provide credit reports.
What is credit?
Credit is a record of a person's debts and payment history. Credit bureaus compile individual reports of consumer debt through an array of sources, including credit card companies, banks, the IRS, department stores and gasoline companies, and any other entities granting loans. A credit report is a résumé of your financial performance, with information on your payment standing for all the accounts you've held for the past seven to 10 years (seven years for accounts not paid as agreed and 10 years for accounts paid as agreed).
What is a credit score?
Credit scores, also called "beacon scores," are composites that indicate how likely you are to pay on a loan or credit card as agreed based upon your payment history, amount of debts, length of credit history and types of credit in use. The credit grantor reviewing your loan application compiles your score based on information from your credit report and other data, including your income level.
Fair, Isaac and Company (FICO) developed the mathematical formula for establishing scores. Scores range from 300 (poor) to 850 (excellent), and the rule of thumb is the higher the score, the lower the risk to lenders.
What role does credit play?
Lenders review credit reports to determine debts owed and if they are repaid according to the terms of the initial contract. If you have any outstanding debt, lenders will analyze your debt-to-income ratio and how that debt will factor into your ability to make your mortgage payments.
What do I do when I get my report?
Read through it carefully, paying extra attention to the section on your account payment history.
How do I establish credit?
If you have never taken out a credit card or borrowed money from a financial institution, or if your accounts are young, you can establish credit history by having your rent payments to landlords and monthly payments to utility companies added to your credit report.
How do I correct a mistake?
Follow the directions of the credit bureau issuing your report. The bureau will contact the source of the information in question and attempt to resolve the dispute. Also, if late payment information is accurate but you have a good explanation (e.g., you were laid off from work or became very ill), you are allowed to add that information to your report.