Those about to start house hunting should check their credit score before things get too serious. There is nothing quite as frightening in the mortgage process as learning that your credit report contains a late payment or other blemishes that can prevent you from buying a property.
The higher your credit score, the better your chances are of financing a home. A credit score of at least 620 will give consumers a fighting chance to secure a home loan; 720 should qualify in most cases.
However, a lower credit score doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t finance a home. Credit score repair begins with your credit report. You can request a free copy of your credit report annually from the Federal Trade Commission at AnnualCreditReport.com. Check the report for errors.
Don’t panic if your report contains blemishes. There are steps you can take to fix negative marks, regardless of whether the marks are in error or if you’ve missed a payment or two. The simplest thing to do if you’ve missed a payment is to call the creditor and ask them to erase the negative listing. You can also do this with a well-documented letter. There is no guarantee that a lender will do this, but if you’ve been a good customer through the years, this method has proven to be successful.
If you are one of the many who have defaulted on a student loan you can enter into a “rehab program,” which will get your account back on track after 12 months. This may not be the quick fix you need when buying a home but the sooner you do this the better.
For disputing a negative mark that was not your fault, you can try disputing the account with the credit bureaus as “not mine.”
One quick fix used by borrowers to boost their credit score is to have an older family member with a sound credit rating add you as an authorized user on a credit card. This can help increase your score and you wouldn’t even need the card in your possession.
With more loans requiring higher credit scores today, it’s never too early to start fixing credit challenges.