It’s a Balancing Act: Credit and Debt

by Maryann Ross Levanti 05/23/2021

Image by David Pereiras from Shutterstock

Your FICO score is a key factor used to determine if you qualify for a mortgage. The Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) is the creator of the most common credit score used by home loan providers. The algorithm used to create your score is a closely-guarded industry secret. But in general, it factors in your payment history, debt burden, length of credit history, and recent applications for credit. Your FICO score is powerful but there are things it cannot account for.

It does not indicate how much you can afford.

It does not reveal how much you have saved up for a down payment.

It does not understand your ability to budget.

It does not display your current bank account balances.

What does it do?

Your FICO score tells you (and your potential lender) how you have handled credit over the length of your credit history. Scores range from 300 (poor) to 850 (excellent). The primary factors that can hurt your credit score are late-payments and the debt-to-credit ratio.

Late Payments

Make your payments on-time every month especially if you are hoping to secure a mortgage. The more on-time payments you have the better your score will be. In some cases, on-time payments can dilute the impact of late-payments in your credit history. Newer incidences can be more detrimental to your score than older late-payments. Payments that are received 60, 90, or 120 days late count more against you than those that are late by over 30 days.

Credit Utilization

The total amount you owe is a consideration but the relationship between how much you owe and the credit available to you weighs more heavily when it comes to determining your FICO score. Another term for this is your credit utilization. Your debt-to-credit ratio is a measure of how much of your available credit you are using within a 30-day window. The higher the ratio of debt compared to available credit, the more likely you are to have a lower FICO score.

For instance, let’s say you and your partner both owe $1000 on credit cards. Your available credit is $1500, making your credit utilization two-thirds or 66 percent of your available credit. Your partner’s available credit is $4000, making their credit utilization 25 percent of their available credit. If all other factors are equal, your partner’s FICO score will appear higher. 

Ask your real estate professional for recommended financial resources in your area.

About the Author
Author

Maryann Ross Levanti

I'm Maryann Ross Levanti, looking forward to meeting you and helping you find your new home and/or sell your current one. I've lived in Fairfield County the majority of my life - grew up in Westport, (Coleytown, Coleytown, Staples), undergrad at UPenn, masters from Edinburgh, Scotland. I'm ABR and GRI certified, and hold a broker's license in real estate, as well as a provisional appraiser license. Additionally, I am the exclusive agent for CCO Habitats - a HOBI award winning building company which regularly offers new construction homes as well as renovated homes to the market in Westport. In my 20 plus years of selling homes, I've learned many things - among them - the customer is not always right. Nor am I. However, if we work together we have a much better chance of being correct and either getting your home sold or finding the home that best suits your needs. Yes, I'm outspoken and opinionated. But anyone with a license can open a door - wouldn't you rather have doors opened by someone who actually tells you the truth and is willing to put her years of experience and knowledge into working 24/7 for you to help you understand what you're getting into? You may not always like what you hear, and there are no crystal balls in this business. But I believe an informed decision is always better. Hopefully you do too! As a yearly winner of the Connecticut Five Star Realtor award and frequently repeated recipient of customer service awards indicate; my priority is you, my client, and my clients appreciate it. Put my local knowledge, professional skills, ethics and dedication to work for you - give me a call 203.984.5157.