You have been obsessively searching online listings, you cringe every time you make your rent payment because you would rather pay your own mortgage than your landlords and you can’t stop dreaming of hosting family holidays in your own home. These are all signs you are mentally ready to take that step into homeownership but is your credit profile mortgage ready?
The key to getting a low interest rate on your mortgage depends on your credit profile. A better credit profile = a better interest rate which equates to less money out of your pocket. This applies to all types of financing: home loans, auto loans, and revolving accounts such as credit cards. Credit is king. The higher the score, the more money you save.
The money you save on interest can be invested wisely elsewhere such as in your 401k retirement plan or it can be used for vacations or to purchase that boat you have been dreaming of. Even if you are already qualified for a mortgage loan and told by your lender your credit is good, you may still be able to improve your score to take advantage of the lowest possible interest rates available thus saving you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage loan.
A 1% difference in your mortgage interest rate over 30 years can equate to a significant amount of money. To illustrate, a 95K mortgage loan with a term of 30 years at 4.5% interest rate will cost you $78,286.38 in interest alone over the life of the loan, while a 5.5% interest rate will cost $ 99,183.84 in interest payments. As you can see, the savings over the life a loan are significant when the interest rate is lower. A 1% difference will cost 22K more. Improving your credit profile before purchasing your home is a cost saving strategy that will save you thousands. Another cost saving strategy is lowering your loan term to 15 years. To illustrate, a 95K mortgage loan with a term of 15 years at a 4.5% interest rate will cost you only $35,813.85 in interest over the life of the loan, while a 5.5% interest rate will cost you $44,721.27 in interest payments. You can enter various loan terms, interest rates, and terms in this online amortization schedule:
The bottom line: It makes good financial sense to work on getting your credit profile in tip top shape before you start looking to purchase your first home. Evaluating your three bureau credit reports for errors and disputing inaccurate information are crucial steps to getting your credit profile mortgage ready and positioning you to get the best interest rates on all of your loans.
1.Get a Copy of Your Credit Reports
The first step is obtaining each of your three bureau credit reports (Experian, Equifax and Trans Union). You can get a copy of all three reports by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com
. These reports are free to obtain once a year and will not impact your score.
Your credit reports contain basic identifying information, your credit history, accounts in collection, courthouse records, employers, and inquiries of potential credit grantors. All of these factors make up your credit score.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
states,” A credit report contains information about your credit such as loan paying history and the status of your credit accounts. Lenders use these reports to make lending decisions. This information includes how often you make your payments on time, how much credit you have, how much credit you have available, how much credit you are using, and whether a debt or bill collector is collecting on money you owe. Credit reports also can contain rental repayment information if you are a property renter. It also can contain public records such as liens, judgments, and bankruptcies that provide insight into your financial status and obligations. Lenders use these reports to help them decide if they will loan you money, what interest rates they will offer you, or to determine whether you continue to meet the terms of the account.”
2.Evaluate Your Profile
The next step is evaluating each report for accuracy. One of the common issues in a credit profile is inaccurate personal information including wrong social security numbers, names, others people’s names that somehow got mixed in your report, and addresses and employer information .You also want to check the trade line statuses as well to ensure each account is being reported accurately. To illustrate,you have paid an account in full but the credit reporting agency is still showing it as ” in collection”. This can result in having inaccurate trade line reporting on your credit profile which can negatively impact your credit score. According to The Federal Trade Commission,” The 2012 study found, among other things, that one in five consumers had an error that was corrected by a credit reporting agency (CRA) after it was disputed on at least one of their three credit reports. The study also found that about 20 percent of consumers who identified errors on one of their three major credit reports experienced an increase in their credit score that resulted in a decrease in their credit risk tier, making them more likely to be offered a lower auto loan interest rate”
3.Dispute Inaccurate Information
If inaccurate information on one or more of your credit reports is identified, you will need to dispute these items. This involves sending a letter to the credit reporting agency explaining the dispute and including copies (NOT ORIGINALS) of any supporting documentation. According to The Federal Trade Commission
,” Your letter should clearly identify each item in your report you dispute, state the facts and explain why you dispute the information, and request that it be removed or corrected. You may want to enclose a copy of your report with the items in question circled. Send your letter by certified mail, “return receipt requested,” so you can document what the credit reporting company received. Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures.”
Credit reporting agencies must investigate the disputes within thirty days and forward the information you supplied them to the creditor in question. Once the creditor receives the notice of dispute and supporting documents from the credit reporting agency, they must investigate and report the result of their findings back to the credit reporting agency. If the creditor finds the information reported is inaccurate, they must notify all three credit bureaus who must then update the information in your credit file. When complete, the credit bureau must provide a letter to you of the findings and include a free copy of your credit report. Upon request, the credit bureau must send a corrected report to anyone who requested a copy of your credit report over the previous six months and to any employer who requested a copy over the previous two years.
If your dispute did not result in a resolution, you can request a statement of the dispute be included in your file. You can also request the credit reporting company provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of your report in the recent past.
Lastly, you must notify the creditor in writing that you disputed an item in your credit report. Include copies (NOT ORIGINALS) of supporting documents. Send the letter to the creditors address listed on the credit report. If the creditor continues to list the disputed item on your report, it must notify the credit reporting agency and if the information is found to be inaccurate, the creditor must inform the credit reporting agency to update or delete the item in question.
If information in your report is found to be accurate only time will improve your score and ensure the removal of any negative trade lines from your credit file.
states,” When negative information in your report is accurate, only the passage of time can assure its removal. A credit reporting company can report most accurate negative information for seven years and bankruptcy information for 10 years. Information about an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer. There is no time limit on reporting: information about criminal convictions; information reported in response to your application for a job that pays more than $75,000 a year; and information reported because you’ve applied for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance. There is a standard method for calculating the seven-year reporting period. Generally, the period runs from the date that the event took place.”
The older the negative account is, the less impact it will have on your overall credit profile and eventually it will drop off.In the meantime, monitor your reports routinely for accuracy, dispute anything questionable, and pay all of your accounts on time as this has the biggest impact on your credit score.