The credit score is the most influential determinant of the mortgage rate. The higher your credit score the lower (better) the interest rate on the mortgage.
How Do You Find Your Credit Score?
You are entitled to receive a free credit report each year from the 3 credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. The credit report does not include the credit score, but it reveals what information the credit bureaus take into consideration when calculating the credit score. You can obtain a free copy of the credit score through the credit card provider or bank.
This is a sample Credit Monitoring service by one of the credit bureaus, Equifax:
How Does Credit Score Affect Mortgage Rates?
High credit score borrowers typically enjoy lower mortgage interest rates than low credit score borrowers.
A high credit score is not only critical to getting a low mortgage rate but also influences whether you are able to get a home loan at all. Buyers under a particular threshold, usually a FICO score of 620 will find it especially difficult to secure a mortgage. It is possible, but they will need to do some digging.
A credit score of 740 or more usually qualifies for the best mortgage rates from the vast majority of lenders. The mortgage rates offered to the lowest and highest credit tiers can vary as much as one percentage point and a half.
What Do Lenders Look for?
Lenders generally prefer borrowers that have a long history of timely payments, low balances, as well as a mix of credit utilization – for example, an auto loan and several revolving accounts such as credit cards.
Lenders usually look at several variables on the credit report namely the outstanding debt, outstanding debt relative to total available debt, the length of your credit history, and the pursuit of new credit (the number of inquiries on your credit report).
How Can You Clean Up Your Credit?
You should ideally check the credit report about 1 year or so before you buy a home. This approach will give you enough time to correct the errors in your credit report and change the ways you can improve our score using credit.
Once you receive the credit report, scour everything from how your name is spelled as well as the previous addresses. You should also ensure that all accounts listed on the report belong to you and are reported correctly. If a particular account has been closed ensure that it is reported accurately.
Correct Any Errors and Wait
All the 3 credit bureaus have made it easy to dispute errors online. If everything is correct, you should pay down the balances the let time take care of the rest. Credit reporting agencies usually charge a fee if you would like to know your credit score. Lenders usually check all the 3 scores and use the median.
What Else Can You Do?
If you plan to buy a home soon, you should avoid applying for new credit. While it is not always avoidable – for example, if you need college financing or a car loan- you should try to avoid opening new lines of credit within a short time. Multiple new accounts can lower your credit score.
The Bottom Line
Is better credit = better mortgage rates? Yes, as clearly shown here. The credit score represents the overall credit history. It is based on the formation contained in the credit report that includes the total debt you carry and whether you pay your bills on time. Lenders usually consider the credit score as an indicator of how likely you are to repay the mortgage. Borrowers with high credit scores are considered less of a risk and are rewarded with better mortgage rates.