3 Credit-Building Tips for First-Time Homebuyers
Homeownership is part and parcel of the American dream. For most people, owning a home is a goal well worth the work it takes to achieve it. Irrespective of the cost, purchasing a home represents maturity and a certain amount of wealth. Regardless of the price, buying a home signifies maturity and a certain amount of wealth.
YHomebuying isn’t for the ignorant or faint-hearted. Ou needs to be aware of a multitude of information during the process. And if you don’t know much before dipping your toes into the real estate market, you’ll soon take a crash course.
Perhaps the biggest lesson you’ll learn is the need for a solid credit score. In most cases, having a decent score is the only way you’ll qualify for a loan. It’s necessary to get an interest rate that can save you thousands of dollars over the life of the mortgage.
When you’re ready to take the plunge, a few smart decisions can pay off in spades. Start working to increase your credit score when you start socking away cash to save for your down payment. When you’re ready to take the plunge aTo realizes your homebuying dream, follow these three credit-building tips for first-time homebuyers.
1. Use Credit Wisely
Becoming a good credit risk involves two key factors. First, you must be approved for credit even to have a credit score. Second, you must use that credit wisely to build a respectable one.
A mortgage lender won’t be willing to take a risk on you if you’ve never demonstrated your creditworthiness. So if you don’t have a credit score, use a standard or secured credit card to put you on the map. The latter is a good place to begin if you’re worried about qualifying for a traditional credit card.
Your payment history — making payments on time and paying at least the minimum required — comprises 35% of your credit score. Make sure your account is solid. Consider setting your monthly payments on autopay if you’re worried about forgetting to make them on time.
Another 30% of your score is based on the amount of money you owe as a percentage of all available credit. Strive to get approved for a good mix of credit but keep your credit utilization to less than 30%—the lower your utilization rate, the higher your credit score.
If you want a lender to trust you with the money involved in a mortgage, demonstrate you’re worth the risk. A history of using your credit wisely will prove you’re a good steward of someone else’s money.
2. Pay Off Other Debt
Before you set your sights on that starter home, you might have set your sights on other shiny objects. Maybe it was an expensive sports car or a state-of-the-art home theater system. Likely, you didn’t pay cash for those items and are still paying for them.
TYour DTI is one-factor lenders will use to gauge your ability to handle a mortgage. Hose debts are helpful, as they show up as credit other lenders have trusted you to repay. But if you still owe a lot to them, it will impact your debt-to-income ratio. It would be best to focus on paying off that debt to position yourself for mortgage approval.
Don’t overlook all the little debts, like that first credit card you’ve never paid down to zero. Many of those credit cards add up, and so does your interest in them. If you’re still paying off a vacation you took a few years ago, it will show up in your credit file.
Student loans are often a major factor in credit scores and qualifying for a mortgage. They are often major unsecured loans, sometimes repaid over the same time as a mortgage. You may be able to refinance your student loan at a lower interest rate to pay it off sooner.
Homeownership isn’t easy, so it’s often considered a dream! Homeownership isn’t easy, so it’s often considered a dream! But you’ll watch your credit score rise if you work at whittling it down by sacrificing a few luxuries. Paying off all other debt before applying for a home loan may not be realistic.
3. Become an Authorized User on Someone Else’s Credit Card
Just be careful about whose credit you use. If your credit score needs a boost, you may benefit from someone else’s better credit score. Otherwise, you could do more harm than good to your credit.
A cardholder can add just about anyone as an authorized user so long as the user qualifies as a cardholder. Qualifications include such things as age, verification of identity, and have a valid address in the United States. The income and apparent ability to pay requirements apply only to the primary cardholder.
Check whether the credit card company reports authorized user information to the major credit bureaus. Being an authorized user won’t help build your score if it doesn’t. Remember that building your credit, not accessing someone else’s credit line, should be the purpose.
You should also know that the primary cardholder makes timely payments. Make sure the person you choose has a solid payment history, so you don’t lower rather than raise your score. Conversely, don’t do anything as an authorized user that will bring down the primary cardholder’s score. Choose wisely and behave responsibly if you want this strategy to work for, not against, you.
Live the Dream
The path to buying your first home can be rocky. That’s especially true if you’ve abused your credit in the past or if you haven’t started establishing a credit score.
Yet raising your score is eminently possible — all it takes is patience, time, and a laser focus on the end goal. If you can devote these things to the effort, you’ll find yourself resting easy and living the dream.