How Your Credit Score Affects Your Mortgage Rate

Mortgages can help you purchase a home, even when you don't have $100,000 or more saved up to do so out of pocket. However, mortgages aren't free. In order to get a mortgage, you have to agree to pay the mortgage lenders a fee in the form of interest. However, interest isn't a fee that is set in stone. Depending on a number of factors, you might be offered a higher or lower interest rate. One of these factors is your credit score.

Your credit history is a compilation of all of your financial records over the past seven years. This information is reported on a credit history report, which is compiled by three major companies - Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Creditors - including mortgage lenders - can order your credit history report from any of these major credit-reporting bureaus. Using this credit history report, these lenders will decide what interest rate to offer you on your mortgage.

When talking about your credit history, you'll often hear people talk about your credit score. A credit score is simply a number that reflects an overview of your credit history. In most cases, your credit score will serve as a way for mortgage lenders to qualify you or deny your approval for the loan. Having a lower credit score is not the end of the world, but it may make mortgage lenders determine that you should be in a higher interest rate bracket.

How does this work, exactly? Well, when you start out in the financial world, you don't have any credit. As a result, your credit score is moderately low, but not horribly bad. Every time you pay a bill on time or otherwise show that you are financially responsible, your credit score rises a bit. Every time you miss a payment or do something else financially irresponsibly, your credit score drops a bit.

When a mortgage lender is looking at dozens or maybe even hundreds of applications for mortgages, he or she doesn't have time to go through every single one right off the bat, especially since many of the people pre-approved may never actually decide to take a mortgage. So, mortgage lending companies instead set certain limits. For example, your credit score might have to be over 600 to qualify for any kind of credit. Every mortgage lender has a different magic number, and sometimes these numbers can be very specific (ie, you need to be above a 589). Therefore, work to increase your credit score point by point - every little bit matters!

After your credit score qualifies, you may be divided into even more groups. These brackets will determine the credit rate you are offered. Of course, lenders will look at people who are on the fence between brackets. It is at this point that your credit history means a lot. If your credit score is lower because of mistakes you made over 5 years ago and since then you've cleaned up your act, you might get bumped down to a lower interest rate. It is never too late to start improving your credit.

Are credit scores the final say when it comes to your mortgage's interest rate? Not at all. There are many other things that also affect a lender's decision about the rate you'll be offered. If your debt to income ratio is higher, you'll have a higher interest rate, for example. You can also expect a higher interest rate if the home is not your primary residence, if you include closing costs in with the mortgage premium, and if your total real estate price tag is extremely high. Mortgage lenders consider your credit score as just a part of the equation.

So, that means that you need to do all that you can to improve your credit score if you are going to be applying to mortgage lenders anytime soon. Some of the best ways to improve your credit are to use the following tips:

* Close any credit card accounts that you don't open. The higher your overall credit limit, the lower your score will be.

* Correct any mistakes you might see on your credit history report.

* Pay your bills on time.

* If you have past bills that have fallen to the wayside, talk to a debt consolidation company or negotiate a new payment plan with the lender so that everyone is happy.

* Don't carry huge balances on your credit cards. Just because you only have to pay the minimum doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to pay more if possible.

Remember - your credit score is the key to your interest rate, so do your best to keep it as high as possible!

By: Stephanie Larkin

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