Why Your Credit Score is So Important When Taking Out a Mortgage

Credit is tied to most big financial decisions you will make in your life. From things as little as opening up a store card at the mall to buying your first home, your credit score is going to play a factor.

When it comes to mortgages, lenders take your credit score, particularly your FICO score, into consideration in determining the interest rate that you will likely be stuck with for years.

How is your credit score determined and what can you do to use it to get a better rate on your mortgage? We’ll cover all of that and more in this article.

Deciphering credit scores

Most major lenders assign your credit score based on the information provided by three national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These companies report your credit history to FICO, who give you a score from 300 to 850 (850 being the best your score can get).

When applying for a mortgage (or attempting to be pre-approved for a home loan), the lender you choose will weight several aspects to determine if they will lend money to you and under what terms they will lend you the money. Among these are your employment status, current salary, your savings and assets, and your credit score.

Lenders use this data to attempt to determine how likely you are to pay off your debt. To be considered a “safe” person to lend money to it will require a combination of things, including good credit.

What is good credit? Credit scores are based on five components:

  • 35%: your payment history
  • 30%: your debt amount
  • 15%: length of your credit history
  • 10%: types of credit you have used
  • 10%: recent credit inquiries (such as taking out new loans or opening new credit cards)

As you can see, paying your bills and loans on time each month is the key factor in determining your credit score. Also important, however, is keeping your total amount of debt low.

Most aspects of your credit score are in your control. Only 10% of your score is determined by the length of your credit history (i.e., when you opened your first card or took out your first loan).

To build your credit score, you’ll need to focus on lowering your balances, making on-time payments, and giving yourself time to diversify your credit.

What does this mean for taking out mortgages?

A higher credit score will get you a lower interest rate. By the time you pay off your mortgage, just a hundred points on your credit score could save you thousands on your mortgage, and that’s not including the money you might save by getting lower interest rates on other loans as well.

If you would like to buy a home within the next few years, take this time to focus on building your credit score:

  • If you have high balances, do your best to lower them
  • If you have a tendency to miss payments, set recurring reminders in your phone to make sure you pay on time
  • If you don’t have diverse credit, it could be a good time to take out a loan or open your first credit card

When it comes time to apply for a mortgage, you’ll thank yourself for focusing more on your credit score.

How You Ruin Your Credit Without Realizing It

You know that your credit score is incredibly important when you want to buy a home. There’s certain things that you could be doing in your everyday life that are hurting your credit score. Here’s what you need to avoid in order to keep your credit score up:

Don’t Allow For Too Many Credit Inquiries


When you’re at the checkout lane at the store, and the clerk informs you that you can save a lot of money if you just open this instant credit card on the spot, that can pose a problem. The issue with this is that the store will be instantly checking your credit score as well. These inquiries hang on your credit report for a certain amount of time. Certain inquiries can also make your score dip. Too many credit inquiries can make lenders suspicious of your ability to be a dependable borrower.

Unpaid Bills Can Add Up

If you forget to pay small credit card bills here and there, it could add up. Think of things like library books, medical bills, and credit card payments. That unreturned library fee that you never paid could come back to haunt you. A medical bill that was sent to collections can become a problem on your credit report. Most of the time, all you need to do is pay these fees up for your score to bounce back. 

Credit Report Errors

Your credit report could have incorrect information about your financial situation and records. Your credit score could be dragged down just because of some errors on the report. If you do find an error on your report, you’ll be able to submit a claim to rectify the error. 

Using Too Much Of Your Available Credit

Just because a credit limit is at $5,000, doesn’t mean that you need to max it out. Even if you pay your bills each month, using too much of your available credit can really harm your score. For your credit score to be calculated and to see how loan worthy you are, your total available credit and how much of that total credit is being used will be put into a formula. Beware of how much of your credit you use in order to keep that score up.

Not Touching Your Credit

You actually need to use your credit in order to build your score. You need credit history in order to have something for loan officers to work with. Accounts that become inactive over time will be closed by default and actually negatively impact your score. 

By using your credit responsibly, you’ll keep your credit score up and be in good shape to buy a house.

Why is My Credit Score Constantly Changing?

Did you know your credit score is always changing? Your credit score could be one number on one day and a different figure the next and even vary from one credit reporting agency to the next.

Your credit score also known as your FICO score is based on the information contained in your credit record. Since your credit file is always changing so is your score.

Your credit record changes every time a company you have credit with reports an on-time payment — or more important, a missed payment that’s now more than 30 days late. Your score changes each time your credit card balance changes or you apply for new credit.

There are three main credit reporting agencies; Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Another factor that could affect your score is that not all lenders report to all agencies.

To know your credit score you can pull a free credit report from all three agencies once a year. Look for missing or incorrect information. It is important to get that resolved as soon a possible. Click here for more information on obtaining a free credit report.

How to Raise Your Credit Score

If your credit score could use a boost it isn’t as simple as just changing bad financial behaviors. Increasing your credit score is a process that takes time. The time it takes to improve your credit history can vary.

Late payments can remain on your credit report for seven years, but typically if you clear all past-due debts and pay on time from then on, your score can begin to recover quickly.

One late payment doesn’t hurt you that much but a pattern of bad payments will really hurt you.  If you have a few late payments continue to use credit and pay on time every time. Demonstrate that you are managing your fiances well and your scores will begin to climb.

If you have suffered a bankruptcy the effects can be long-lasting. According to myFico.com, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can linger for seven to more than 10 years on your report. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or total liquidation, can affect your record for 10 years.

It is vital to constantly monitor your credit report and review it for accuracy. You can obtain your report for free once every twelve months from annualcreditreport.com.