It’s true, negative credit items can remain on your credit report for up to 7 years (up to 10 years for public records, such as a bankruptcy, tax lien or judgment). But this doesn’t mean that you have to wait 7 to 10 years to begin reestablishing a good credit rating. Because credit scoring models typically lend more weight to your recent activity than to the mistakes youve made in the past, you can change your habits right now and begin reestablishing yourself as a good credit risk for a purchase or refinance loan in just 6 to 12 months.
The following are a few Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to rebuilding your credit:
1) Three months prior to securing your mortgage, DON’T apply for, close, or pay off any collections, charge-offs, loans, or other kinds of credit without speaking to your mortgage professional first. Any one of these actions, as innocent as they might seem, could seriously affect your credit score, adding significant costs to your mortgage should your score suddenly drop.
2) If you have any credit card accounts with excellent credit histories, DO use them – but use them strategically. Keep your balances below 30% of their limits for 3-6 months prior to entering into a loan transaction, and use them only for small purchases that you can easily pay off completely at the end of the month. Remember, creditors like to see evidence of stability, so the goal is to keep the good reports coming month to month without falling into the same financial traps that led to credit challenges in the past.
3) If you don’t have a credit card, DO get a secured card immediately. This is a great way to rebuild or establish credit quickly. Because this account is secured by funds that you deposit (typically between $100 and $400) you’re not seen as a great risk to the card issuer because of your initial investment. Again, use this card strategically to build a strong credit history. Pay your bill on time every month, and it won’t be long before you qualify for an unsecured credit account. Talk to your mortgage professional about which cards to apply for.
For some, opening a credit account with a co-signer could be a better alternative, but it’s important to note that both you and your co-signer are equally responsible for any activity on this type of account, good or bad, so this strategy could backfire in the end if you or your co-signer makes poor decisions. DON’T mistake “authorized user” for a co-signed account. While, in the past, becoming an authorized user on an account in good standing would benefit everyone on the account, the credit bureaus have reconsidered this practice, and new credit models have all but eliminated “piggybacking” your way to good credit.
4) Finally, DO monitor your credit. Ask your mortgage professional to refer you to a professional credit repair company you can trust. Having an experienced professional on your side will allow you to focus on your long-term credit goals without having to make reestablishing your credit a second career.
Give us a call at your convenience. We’ll be glad to review your credit and see what, if anything, needs to be done to help you meet your financial goals and needs.
Credit Repair Service: What to Expect
Google the term “credit repair” and 19 million results are instantly generated. With so much information available, and so much of it conflicting, how do you know which credit repair company is legitimate and which ones are really just looking to take advantage of desperate consumers?
The following are steps you can take to know exactly what to expect from a legitimate credit repair company and the valuable services they provide:
Get a referral from your mortgage professional.Not only do we work with credit repair specialists on a regular basis, our business depends on your success. It’s in our best interest to make sure you are represented by professionals who are experienced in dealing with creditors, the credit bureaus, and collection agencies.
Interview your candidates. Make sure they understand and can explain to you how credit scores are calculated. Remember the 5 factors that make up a credit score that we discussed in a previous article? Without a detailed knowledge of the specific elements that make up your credit score, how can they possibly create a successful strategy to increase your score?
Don’t believe the hype. Credit repair takes time. Don’t fall for advertisements from companies promising miracles in just a few days or weeks. Remember, it took time for your score to get where it is, and it will take a legitimate credit professional time to fix it, depending on your situation. For the most part, expect 3 to 6 months for the best results, and up to a year or more if you have more serious problems like bankruptcies or identity-theft issues.
Don’t spend more than $1,500. Depending on your situation, expect to spend between $800 and $1,500 for a legitimate credit repair company. Again, if you have major issues, expect to be in the higher range and vice versa. In today’s market,where FICO scores one point below 680 could cost you thousands of dollars in interest and monthly payments, you’ll be glad you made this investment in your financial future.
Monitor your progress. Be sure to communicate with both your mortgage professional and your credit repair representative throughout the process. To ensure success, we all need to be on the same page. With the right team of professionals, you can expect your credit score to increase between 10 to 220 points over the course of 6 weeks to 6 months. That’s going to save you a lot of money on your mortgage, credit cards, auto loans, and even student loans.
Credit repair is a valuable, worthwhile service when you’re working with the right company. If you have questions about credit repair and how it affects your chances of securing a mortgage or refinance, don’t hesitate to call. We’ll be glad to review your credit and see what, if anything, needs to be done to help you meet your financial goals and needs.
If you or anyone you know has any questions about credit scores or what can be done to repair them, please don’t hesitate to call.