June 2010 Vol. 5 No.6
• Unlock the Mystery of Your Credit Score • June's Home Value Improver • About Us

Unlock the Mystery of Your Credit Score

Your credit report is about as close as most people in this country get to a "permanent record." You probably know that someone, somewhere is tracking what you do with your money - and I don't just mean what you do with your CVS card. Someone is keeping a very detailed score of how much debt you are accumulating and how, exactly, you repay that debt. Big Brother Debt is always watching.

Who exactly is this, and how do they determine whether you are a good credit risk or how much house you can afford? The biggest of all credit score companies is called FICO. (The acronym actually stands for Fair and Isaac Company, the founders' names.) Other common agencies include Experian, Transunion and Equifax.

Your credit report does not have to be a mystery to you. If you want to know what is on it, you can check out www.freecreditreport.com, which is the centralized agency that will give all consumers one free credit report a year. While this report can provide you with a guideline, it's important to know that the score provided on it cannot be used for lending purposes.

  1. Your History - The Biggest Factor

  2. It seems the folks at the credit reporting agencies take the old adage "those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it" very seriously. How a borrower (you) has gone about paying debt is the best way for the agency to predict how that borrower will behave in the future. FICO looks at revolving loans such as credit cards, which allow you to pay back different amounts each month. It also examines how borrowers repaid installment loans such as mortgages and student loans. Making good on those big installment loans is more important than on the smaller, revolving loans, according to FICO. Your credit history accounts for a full 35% of your credit score.

  3. Your Debt

  4. Coming in at a very close second, with about a 30% weight in importance is how much you owe. FICO weighs your revolving credit, because it can easily increase, more heavily than your installment loans. FICO doesn't look kindly on those folks to reach their credit card limits or come close to their credit card limits. As such, a good rule to follow is not to charge more than 30% of your total credit card limit.

  5. Credit History Length

  6. How long you have had your credit comprises 15% of your credit score. I had a client who boasted that at 35 years old, he had never had a credit card - or even a checkbook. While that may be impressive if your goal is to be forever 19 years old, FICO is not impressed. The agency likes potential borrowers who have some history. After all, how can they factor in numbers 1 and 2 on this list without a little history to look at? Although it sounds counterintuitive to take out credit cards if you want a flawless record, that is the best start.

  7. "New" Credit Cards

  8. FICO is suspicious of borrowers who run through the mall applying for every credit card offered to them. While we all know the dangers of assuming, FICO is quite comfortable doing so. In fact, they assume anyone who has recently taken out a bunch of credit cards is in financial trouble, and therefore, not a good credit risk.

  9. Credit Mix

  10. This is a vague category, but FICO likes to see borrowers who can handle all sorts of debt. Someone who has only ever borrowed from a credit card does not look as attractive as someone who has an established history of paying back different types of loans.

    Of course, none of this is written in stone. FICO looks at each credit report on an individual basis. It's good to know, however, the agency's general rules.

June's Home Value Improver

Get Your House Ready for Summer

If you're not one of the fortunate ones to have central air conditioning, you know that the impending hot days mean some trips to the basement or attic with the hand truck to lug out some of those air conditioning window units. It's also time to pull the screens down and put the storm windows up. If those two projects are the extent of your summer home maintenance, you may be missing out on some opportunities. Summer is a good time to reevaluate.

  1. Examine our roof.

  2. If it's been a while since your roof was replaced or repaired, now is a good time to eyeball it since you are outside so much. See anything missing or damaged? Take a look at the ceilings in your house, too, to see if anything is leaking. This is a good time of year to call the roofers if you need any help.

  3. Caulking the cracks.

  4. Of course, it's always a good time to fill in small leaks and cracks around doors and windows. But people tend to forget about it in the summer. After all, you're not trying to keep cold air out, right? Well, yes, but you are trying to keep cool air in and pesky summer bugs out.

  5. Clean the deck.

  6. Pirates are not the only ones who need to "swab the deck." Put on your best pirate voice and head out to the deck with some cleaner-or even the power washer. The winter, and all those budding spring trees, can wreak havoc on your deck, so clean, clean, clean.

  7. Clean out your dryer vents.

  8. You probably clean out the dryer vent each time you put in a load of clothes. But, what you don't see is the clear stuff that sticks between the screen bars. Run it under water to really clean it. Also, see if you can get the outside vent cleaned to make sure it is running clear. Some plumbers or handymen can do this for you.

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This week, I have started a small group personal training program, where I will work out every Monday with five of my work colleagues. We'll be led by an experienced personal trainer who will customize the hour workout for each participant so we can all meet our individual goals.

Our trainer will play a role similar to the one that your mortgage broker plays when helping you to buy or refinance a property. Just as a good mortgage broker stays atop of industry trends, new programs and the latest regulations, our trainer is in tune with the latest trends in exercise, innovative approaches to workouts and the rules regarding her industry.

Just as the right mortgage broker takes the time to understand each client's unique needs and goals before recommending a particular loan, our trainer will conduct an assessment on each of us before recommending a workout regimen.

I have great trust in our group's personal trainer and aim to instill that same type of trust in each one of my clients.

If you have any questions about buying or refinancing a home, I invite you to call or email anytime. And if I'm in a training session, I'll get back to you as soon as I'm done - sweaty or not!

Best regards,
Debbie Siegel
Westchester Mortgage

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