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Understanding Credit

Credit is one of the most important components in the mortgage approval process. Lenders look at a borrower’s credit score, number of open accounts, payment history, type of credit borrowed and a series of other factors when determining what level of risk to assess to each lending scenario. Down payment requirements, loan programs, flexibility on income and even interest rates can be impacted by a slight bump in a credit score.

Once credit has been established and maintained, credit scores are based on five factors to varying degrees: payment history (35%), total amounts owed (30%), length of time (15%), type of credit (10%) and new credit (10%). The largest impact on credit scores is payment history and amount owed, which is why it is important to pay bills on time. Debt should be kept to a minimum and funds should be moved around as little as possible. It may be beneficial to leave all accounts open, even if they have a $0 balance.

Different types of credit (ie. mix of credit cards, installment loans and fixed payments) can also be beneficial to a credit score. However, too many installment loans can negatively affect credit. Although time is a necessary factor for improving credit scores, this can be controlled by keeping the accounts that are opened during the same time period to a minimum.

By following these guidelines over an extended period of time, credit scores can be maintained and improved in order to improve the borrower’s loan potential and interest rate.

Key Factors That Impact Your Score:

1. Payment History (35%)

It is essential to pay your credit bills on time. Every 30 days late, collection, judgment, or Bankruptcy significantly drops your score.

2. Amount You Owe Compared to Balances (30%)

Your available credit compared to the amount owed. It’s a good rule-of-thumb to be at 40% or less of the available balances

3. Length of Credit History (15%)

Easy rule-of-thumb: the longer your accounts are open, the more positive impact it will have on your overall credit score.  In fact, if you happen to have a card that is over 10 years old with even a little activity, it would probably be a bad idea to close that card.

4. Mix of Credit (10%)

Generally speaking, if you have loans, such as a car loan, as well as open credit cards, it helps prove to creditors that you have experience borrowing money.

5. New Credit Applications (10%)

There is a model that compensates for people shopping rates on home and car loans, but it can hurt your credit score to have multiple reports pulled in a short amount of time.