Your credit score plays a key role in your journey to homeownership. Factors such as amount of debts owed, payment history, and length of credit history, among others, contribute to your score, which is represented by a number between 300 and 850 (300 being the worst and 850 being the best).
Without a credit score, lenders would have no indication as to how likely you are to pay back your loan. It also helps determine what kind of loan you’re eligible for and what your interest rate will be. While there are plenty of loan programs that have lower credit score requirements, the better the score, the more home loan options you'll have.
So, how do you boost your score?
Check your credit score.
It seems so simple, but you can’t improve your score if you don’t know what it is. Once a year, you can access your full credit report for free from one of the major credit reporting agencies: Equifax®, Experian®, or TransUnion®. Other free sources such as Credit Karma will help give you some insight into your credit score as well.
Reduce the amount of debt you owe.
A large component of your credit score is amount of debt owed. Focus on car payments, student loans, and other debts that require a monthly payment to reduce your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. This is a ratio that compares the amount of debts you owe to your monthly income.
Pay your bills on time.
Even if you’re only a couple of days late on a payment, it can have a very negative impact on your credit score. Set reminders on your phone a few days before a bill is due, so you can plan to pay it promptly. Or, better yet, auto-schedule your bill payments, so you don’t have to worry about missing the due date.
Have a credit card (or several).
Owning a credit card is important, but you need to manage it well. Make your payments on time, don't surpass your credit limit, and don’t charge more than you can pay back in the next billing cycle. This will help you build your credit quickly. If you follow these guidelines regularly, it can contribute to an excellent credit score.
Get expert credit advice.
If you’re still struggling, make time to meet with a legitimate credit counselor. Doing so will not impact your credit score in a negative way.