Tips for Increasing Your Credit Score Before You Buy a Home

  • Credit
  • Home Buying
Jul 15, 2021
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When it comes time to buy a home, pay attention to your credit score. This is important to help you qualify for a home loan and receive a better rate. So what should your credit score be? It depends on your lender and the type of loan.

The general principle is that the higher your credit score, the better interest rate you’ll receive because you pose less risk to the lender. However, there are many other factors involved in getting a mortgage or prequalifying for a mortgage. Following these tips from Dutch Point Credit Union can help increase your credit score and make you more qualified to buy a house.

What Should Your Credit Score Be to Buy a House?

If you’re applying for a government-backed mortgage like an FHA loan, you’ll need a minimum credit score of 580, according to recent guidelines from the Federal Housing Administration. This is also the minimum credit score required to buy a house. For a conventional loan or other mortgages that are not sponsored by the government, aim for a credit score above 700 to receive a better home loan rate. There’s no minimum credit score requirement for veterans and active duty military personnel pursuing VA loans.

How to Increase Your Credit Score

If you want to increase your credit score to qualify for a lower interest rate, start by getting a free copy of your credit report, available through credit reporting sites like annualcreditreport.com, Experian and TransUnion. Read the report carefully to monitor activity on your account and ensure all information is correct. Keep in mind, you may need to pay extra or use a different service to see your actual credit score.

Your credit score is determined by several factors, including your payment history, total amount owed, length of time you’ve had credit, the different types of credit you’ve used and what’s considered new credit, including new loans and accounts. To improve your credit score before buying a house, create a plan of attack to boost as many of those categories as possible. Dutch Point Credit Union can work with you to provide a personalized credit review with tips to maintain or improve your credit.

Fix Errors on Your Credit Report

One of the easiest ways to improve your credit score is to fix errors. According to a survey by the Federal Trade Commission, 25% of consumers found errors on their credit reports that may have negatively affected their scores. Four out of five people who disputed those errors saw some type of modification to their credit reports. Use these tips from the FTC to dispute any errors you may find on your credit report.

Always Pay Your Bills on Time

One of the most important factors when it comes to creditworthiness is your ability to pay your bills on time. Use Digital Banking through Dutch Point to set up recurring payments for your standard monthly bills, and make good on any past-due bills. If you’re having a tough time paying your debt, reach out to our loan consultants to discuss different payment options.

Pay Down Your Debt

Keeping a lower debt-to-credit ratio can help improve your credit score. Lenders want to see that you’re living within your means before they allow you to take on more debt. Reducing your debt also frees up more of your income, which helps improve your debt-to-income ratio, a factor that lenders look at before extending new credit. Crunch the numbers with our debt consolidation calculator.

Request More Credit

Another way to improve your debt-to-credit ratio is to ask your credit card companies to increase your credit limit, if that’s an option. This will give you more available credit and help bring that ratio down, which can increase your overall credit score.

Don’t Close Old Accounts

It may seem logical to close accounts with a zero balance, but old accounts provide a credit history, so it’s wise to keep them open. This also rings true if you are recently married or have had another major life event that would trigger you to close accounts.

Keep New Credit to a Minimum but Diversify Your Credit Types

Avoid applying for new credit cards before you buy a house. This can signal to lenders that you need credit and may be in a difficult spot financially. However, if you don’t have a mix of different credit types, you may want to start by adding an installment loan, such as an auto loan or a small personal loan, to show lenders you’re creditworthy and can repay a loan on time.

 

Improving your credit score can take time, but it’s well worth the effort and planning when you qualify for a mortgage and get a lower interest rate on your home loan. Contact Dutch Point Credit Union in Connecticut to learn more about how to improve your credit score before buying a home.

At Dutch Point, it's all about you. We empower you to make financial decisions that are right for you. We pledge to help you meet and exceed your financial goals through all the stages of your life.