Increase Your Credit Score to Decrease Your Mortgage Rate

Everyone knows that their credit score will affect the mortgage they qualify for and the interest rate they receive. The details of how exactly those numbers are arrived at, however, are a bit hazy for the average prospective homeowner.

This confusion is due to a number of reasons. Chief among them is the fact that your average person isn’t well-versed in credit terminology or the variables that go into determining their credit scores.

In this article, I’m going to break down credit scores and credit bureaus, then discuss how each of them affects the mortgage rate you could receive. Then, we’ll talk about some ways you can boost your score to qualify for a better rate.

Anatomy of a credit score

Credit scores are determined by five main variables. In order of importance, they are:

  • 35%: your payment history on loans, bills, credit cards, etc.

  • 30%: your total debt amount for all of your accounts

  • 15%: length of your credit history (how long you’ve had open accounts for loans, credit cards, etc.)

  • 10%: types of credit you have used (auto loan, student loan, credit card… diversity of loans matters)

  • 10%: recent credit inquiries (such as taking out new loans or opening new credit cards)

To have a “good” (over 700) or “excellent” (over 750) credit score, you’ll need to focus on each of these factors. For most people, paying their bills on time over a long enough timeline is enough to get them into the excellent range.

But things happen in life. People forget to pay an important bill, they have financial emergencies, or they have to take out a loan for an unforeseeable expense.

The credit bureaus

So, who are the people that determine your credit score?

There are three main credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Lenders will look at reports from all three bureaus to determine your rate. Due to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, consumers are able to receive a free copy of their credit report from each bureau once per year.

Since then, companies like Credit Karma have made credit reports even more accessible. Users are able to check in on their credit as often as they want free of charge.

Since much of your credit score is out of your hands, at least in the short-term, what can you do to help boost your score over the next few months to increase your chances of getting a good interest rate on your loan? Two things.

Credit and mortgages

So, just how much of an impact does your credit score have on your mortgage rate? Having an excellent score can give you a full percentage point lower on your monthly interest rate.

One percent doesn’t seem like much, but over the period of a 30-year loan that can amount to tens of thousands of dollars that you could have saved if you had a better credit score. As you can imagine, having an extra $2,000 per year can be quite helpful to a new homeowner.

So, what can you do to boost your score?

Make corrections

Since you have access to free credit reports be sure to go through your detailed report a few months before you plan to apply for a mortgage. Report any harmful errors to help you increase your score.

Don’t apply for new credit

The period from now until you apply for a mortgage is an important one. If you make new credit inquiries (i.e., open up new credit cards, take out new loans, etc.), your score will temporarily decrease. Wait until after you sign on your mortgage to take out other loans.

3 Key Benefits of an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage

An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) offers a home loan with an interest rate that may move up or down. Therefore, with an ARM, your mortgage payments may rise or fall depending on a variety of market factors.

For many homebuyers, an ARM remains a viable home financing option for a number of reasons, including:

1. Lower Interest Rate at the Beginning of Your Mortgage

An ARM enables you to purchase a home that may exceed your price range. As such, it frequently represents an ideal option for a young professional who expects his or her income to rise over the next few years.

With an ARM, you are able to lock in an interest rate for the first few years of your mortgage. For instance, with a 5/1 ARM, your interest rate will remain in place for the initial five years of your home loan. This means that your mortgage payments will remain the same for five years, then rise or fall based on market conditions.

Ultimately, an ARM may help you secure your dream home. In fact, an ARM often allows homebuyers to pay a lower interest rate at the beginning of a mortgage than the interest rate associated with many traditional fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) options.

2. Extra Savings for Home Improvements

If you choose an ARM with a below-average interest rate, you may be able to save extra money that you can use to improve your home.

For example, if you want to overhaul your residence’s attic or basement or add an outdoor swimming pool, an ARM may help you do just that. Because you’ll know exactly what you’re paying for the first few years of your home loan, you can budget accordingly and invest in home improvements that may help you boost the value of your home.

3. Affordable Short-Term Financing

If you intend to live in a home for only a few years, an ARM may be preferable compared to an FRM.

In many instances, an ARM will feature a lower interest rate than an FRM. As a result, if you take advantage of an ARM, you may be able to secure a great house at an affordable price. Plus, if you sell your home before your initial interest rate expires, you can avoid the risk that your interest rate – and monthly mortgage costs – may rise.

Homebuyers should evaluate both ARM and FRM options. By doing so, a homebuyer can assess his or her home loan options and make an informed decision.

If you ever have ARM or FRM questions, banks and credit unions are happy to respond to your queries. These lenders will enable you to evaluate your financing needs so you can acquire your dream house.

Furthermore, consulting with your real estate agent may deliver immediate and long-lasting benefits. Your real estate agent can offer home loan recommendations and put you in touch with local lenders.

Dedicate the necessary time and resources to assess your home financing options, and you can move one step closer to securing your ideal house.

How to Secure the Best Possible Mortgage Rate

Securing the best mortgage for your home may seem challenging, particularly for those who are first-time homebuyers. Fortunately, we’re here to help you get the best possible mortgage rate, regardless of the real estate market.

Here are three tips that you can use to get the best mortgage rate at any time:

1. Find Ways to Improve Your Credit Score.

Your credit score likely will influence your mortgage rate. However, those who track their credit score closely can improve this score over an extended period of time. That way, when the time comes to secure a mortgage for a new home, you’ll be in great position to get the best mortgage rate possible.

Try to check your credit score regularly. You can do so quickly and easily, as you’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union).

To improve your credit score, focus on paying off any outstanding debt. This will help you enhance your credit score without delay.

2. Take Advantage of a Shorter-Term Mortgage.

Although you may consider a variety of mortgage options, a shorter-term mortgage may allow you to pay a lower mortgage rate for a shorter period of time.

Remember, just because you choose a 15-year mortgage over a 30-year mortgage does not mean you will wind up paying twice as much for your mortgage payment each month.

For example, selecting a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage over a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage may prove to be a viable option for many homebuyers.

A 15-year fixed-rate mortgage will have higher principal and interest totals than a 30-year counterpart, while the insurance and tax fees associated with both types of mortgages will remain the same.

3. Look at All of the Lending Options That Are Available.

It sometimes can be overwhelming to look at all of the banks, credit unions and other lending options that provide mortgage assistance. Diligent homebuyers, however, will dedicate the time and resources necessary to explore all of the lending options at their disposal to make an informed decision.

Ideally, you should try to get multiple quotes from a variety of lenders. This will enable you to see exactly what each lender has to offer and improve your chances of making the best decision possible.

Lastly, don’t forget to lock in your mortgage rate in writing. By doing so, you’ll be able to verify you have the mortgage rate you like and the loan you need to secure your dream home.

Understanding the ins and outs of landing the ideal mortgage rate can be difficult. And if you ever have concerns or questions along the way, your real estate agent may be able to point you in the right direction as well. Because this agent boasts comprehensive real estate sector experience, he or she may be able to provide guidance and tips to ensure that you can find a reliable lender and land a great mortgage rate.

Find a mortgage rate that works for you, and you may be able to save money over the life of your mortgage.

Why You Should Get Preapproved For A Mortgage

When you’re shopping for a home, there’s so much to consider. Between the questions of what neighborhood you should live in and what style house you like, you need to think of the most important thing: finances.

When you think that you’re financially ready to buy a home, you often will get the notion that it’s a good time to just start shopping. There’s several steps that you must take first before you start shopping for a home. One of the first steps you should consider taking before you make the leap into home ownership is to get preapproved.

While buyers still tend to skip the preapproval process, doing this can help you immensely throughout the home buying process. While it may seem an insignificant and kind of boring step, getting preapproved is important for your finances. It may even help you to land in a home that you love faster.

It’s actually detrimental to make an offer without a preapproval, because some lenders won’t accept an offer without one. Many realtors verify and require that offers come along with the stamp of preapproval.

What Does Getting Preapproved Involve?

You may have heard of a prequalification. This is much different from being preapproved. Prequalification involves buyer provided information, just to get a sense of how much they can spend on a home. Preapproval involves credit scores, bank statements, tax returns and more. This process states exactly how much lenders will be willing to give to the borrower. All of the documents needed for preapproval are the same exact documents needed for a mortgage. This helps you as the borrower prepare ahead of time as well.

These are some of the kinds of documents that you’ll need for preapproval:

Pay stubs
W-2s from the previous year
Federal tax returns from the past two years
Two Months of Bank Statements from all of your accounts
A credit report

While a preapproval is only one step in the long process of buying a home, it speeds up the later steps of securing a mortgage. The process also helps buyers face their financial reality. Don’t put off the important process because you fear that you won’t be approved for the amount that you need. It’s also common for buyers to assume that because someone they know has been approved for a certain amount of money that they will be able to get that same loan amount as well. This isn’t always the case and another great reason to get preapproved.

Errors On Credit Reports

Often, there are errors on credit reports. That’s why you need to check them often. If you have some errors on your credit report, getting preapproved is a great way to check if there are any errors and give you time to fix them before you apply for a mortgage.