Lenders everywhere are demanding record-high FICO credit scores, but for many of today’s borrowers it is a mystery about what makes the number go up or down. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are averaging around 760 on approved mortgages this year, so there is an increased importance of maintaining a high score.
Home buyers and mortgage applicants are affected by higher numbers of inquiries, as consumers looking for new credit accounts are considered riskier. FICO models place significance on this because bankruptcy is much more likely for people with more inquiries. However, for those looking for a home that are racking up the inquiries, the FICO models ignore all mortgage-related inquiries during the 30 days before computation of the score.
All mortgage inquiries during the 45 days preceding a loan application count only as a single inquiry. This safety net also applies to those shopping for auto and student loans. A single inquiry usually is not a big deal as a 5 point deduction is standard. But despite good intentions, there are hazards, especially for people with thin credit files, such as young, first-time home buyers and those without extensive credit histories. And unless loan officers properly code the purpose of the inquiry when they report it to the national credit bureaus — say the protected auto loan — credit files won't necessarily identify it that way.
On top of this, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have begun requiring lenders to pull a second set of credit reports immediately before closing to ensure that applicants' FICO scores haven't changed significantly. With this becoming more common, loan officers tell clients that it is advisable that they avoid all credit-related in the weeks before their closing. The good news for consumers is by buying them from Equifax, Experian or TransUnion or at www.annualcreditreport.com where reports are free once a year, the FICO score goes untouched.
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