There’s a good chance the people you’re helping to buy a home will have a limited understanding of their credit score and whether they need to do anything with it before they enter the market. To help you advise your customers on the matter, we sat down with Neekia McCoy, vice president for consumer lending at REALTORS® Federal Credit Union, a division of Northwest Federal Credit Union, for some ideas.
One helpful tip is about how your customers can strengthen their score. If they have a revolving line of credit, they should make sure the unpaid balance isn’t more than 50 percent of their credit limit. If it is, getting that balance below 50 percent is a way they can see some improvement in their score quickly, McCoy says.
Another tip: If your customers are carrying a balance on a closed line of credit, that balance is hurting their credit rating, so they should try to get that balance paid off as quickly and responsibly as they can.
McCoy says the average credit score is 680. Borrowers with that score have a history of paying off their debts on time, as agreed. The range is 300 to 850, with 850 being a perfect score.
Given the importance credit scores play in borrowers’ financial plans, it makes sense for them to check the credit report available from each of the three credit reporting organizations—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—once a year to make sure they’re accurate. McCoy recommends checking each of the reports at least once a year and taking steps to get them corrected if an inaccuracy is found. You can suggest your customers go to annualcreditreport.com for a free check. REALTORS® Federal Credit Union has a link to the site on its website, realtorsfcu.org. Fortunately, it’s free to check each of your credit reports once a year by law.