Donna Coffin - ERA Key Realty Services - Distinctive Group



Posted by Donna Coffin on 4/26/2019

It's easy to get stuck without a mortgage approval or with a smaller home loan than you want, just because you don't understand how your credit score works. Most of the things you've done to prepare: budgeting your income, balancing your bank accounts and saving up for a down payment, aren't reflected in your FICO credit score. It doesn't even show how much you can afford.

So what’s the point of your credit score?

It tells your lender what you’ve done with your previous credit. Whether anyone has been willing to lend you money, how long you’ve kept it and whether you pay it back on time. They keep the actual algorithm at FICO secret, but there are two main factors that you can affect.

Late Payments

These are easy to understand and fix. Ready? Pay them on time. That’s it. Each time you are late on a debt payment, whether it’s a credit card, school loan, mortgage, or car loan it dings your credit score. That’s the easy part. Now for some finance math.

Debt to Credit Ratio

Surprisingly, you are in complete control of this part of your score too. While it sounds like this is a ratio of how much you owe to how much you make, it's not. The debt-to-credit ratio shows how much you owe based on how much credit you currently have available. That means if you have a $5000 credit card, and your friend has a $2000 credit card, and you both OWE $2000, you will have a higher score than your friend because your ratio ($2000/$5000) is lower than hers ($2000/$2000). The higher this ratio gets, the less likely lenders are to give you more credit. Most professionals suggest you try to keep your usage below 30%. That means your balance on that $5000 credit card should stay below $1500. This practice works better for you as well, keeping some cushion in your accounts for emergencies.

Managing your Debt-to-Credit Ratio

There are a few tricks beyond merely using less of your credit to help keep this number under control. First off, pay off as much of your debt as possible. You want to keep that used debt down as low as possible when trying to apply for new debt. Second, don't close your paid-off accounts. While it may seem like the optimal thing to do, remember that total credit number? You want to keep that number high so that your used credit appears lower. So, you've paid off that credit card? Great! Now chop it up or put it in a hidden drawer and keep that available credit without using it. Lastly, be careful about opening new accounts. While it lowers your debt-to-credit ratio as long as you don’t actually spend from them, your score also reflects the age of your accounts. The longer ago you applied for and got credit, the more likely it is you will qualify for new credit. Don’t waste that new credit qualification on anything else besides your home loan.

Want to know the best lenders to apply with once you've got the best score? Ask your real estate agent for their top recommendations for your situation and use their expertise to ease the qualification process.





Posted by Donna Coffin on 1/11/2019

Preparing to buy a home is a long and stressful process for many. You’ve spent months, or even years, saving for a down payment, planning your future, and building your credit to ensure you get the best possible interest rate on your loan.

Then you find out, when getting preapproved for a mortgage, that your credit score dropped by a few points. So, what gives?

There’s a lot to understand about how credit scores affect mortgages and vice versa. In today’s post, I’m going to attempt to cover everything you need to know about how applying for a mortgage can affect your credit score so you’ll be prepared when it comes time to buy a home.

Prequalification, preapproval, and credit checks

There are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be preapproved or prequalified for a loan. Some of it is due to the jargon that is used in real estate transactions, and some of it is just a marketing technique on the part of lenders.

So, what does it mean to be prequalified and preapproved?

The short version is that getting prequalified is a quick and easy process to determine whether you’re eligible to lend to and how much you’re likely to receive. It involves a quick review of your finances, and often includes either a self-reported or soft credit inquiry.

A “soft inquiry” is the type of credit check that employers typically use for a background check. It doesn’t affect your credit score, as you are not applying to open a new line of credit. In fact, many lenders’ process for prequalification is a simple online form that doesn’t even require a credit check. We’ll talk more about the difference between soft inquiries and hard inquiries later.

The simplicity of prequalification makes it a simple and easy way to get started. But, it isn’t always accurate in how well it predicts the type of mortgage and loan amount you can receive. That’s where preapproval comes in.

When you get preapproved for a loan you fill out an official application (you often have to pay for these). This will request documentation for your finances and assets, and will ask your approval to run a detailed credit report.


These credit reports are considered “hard inquiries” and are a vital step in getting approved or preapproved for a mortgage. However, they also, at least temporarily, lower your credit score.

Why hard inquiries lower your credit score

When any creditor, be it a bank or credit card company, is determining whether to lend to you, they want to know that you are a safe investment. To determine this, they want to know how frequently you pay your bills on time, how much you owe to other creditors, and how financially stable you are right now.

When you make multiple inquiries in a short period of time, it’s a red flag to lenders that you might be in trouble financially. Thus, hard inquiries will lower your credit score for 1 to 2 months.

Applying to multiple lenders: the silver lining

When borrowers apply for a mortgage, they often shop around and apply to multiple lenders. While it may seem that all of these hard inquiries will add up and drastically lower their credit score, this isn’t the case.

Credit bureaus take into account the source of the inquiries. If they realize that you are applying for mortgages, they will typically recognize this as rate shopping and group these applications together on your credit report, counting them only as a single inquiry. This means your score shouldn’t drop multiple times for multiple mortgage preapprovals that were made within a small time frame.

Now that you know more about how mortgage applications affect your credit score, you can confidently shop around for the best mortgage for you and your family.




Tags: mortgage   credit score  
Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Donna Coffin on 12/7/2018

If you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future there are several financial prerequisites that you should aim to meet. Ideally, you’ll want a sizable down payment, a verifiable income history, and a good credit score.

It takes time to build credit. For most people, it can be several months or even years before they see a double-digit change in their credit score. However, if you have a low credit score and want to give it a quick boost, there are ways you can make a big difference.

But first, why should you focus on your credit score?

Credit scores and mortgages

When you apply for a mortgage there are several factors that your lender will take into consideration. One of their top concerns will be your credit score. This score is like a snapshot of your financial reliability. It tells lenders how much risk is involved in lending to you.

As a result, lenders will increase your interest rate if you are high risk and lower it if you are lower risk. To be a low risk homeowner, you’ll want your score to be in the high range, (usually 700 or above).

Credit change potential

Depending on your financial history, it can be more difficult to raise your score in a shorter period of time. If you are young, don’t have a long credit history, or haven’t had many bills to pay in your lifetime, your score will be more malleable than someone who has had low credit for years due to late payments.

In the United States, you have to be eighteen to open up a credit card or take out a loan by yourself (this is different from getting a loan co-signed by a parent or guardian).  You can also ask your parents or guardians to add you as an authorized user of their credit cards. This will let you build credit without having to settle for the high interest rate credit cards you would be eligible for.

If you happen to have a low score (anywhere between 300 - 600), the good news is you can achieve a larger change over a shorter amount of time than someone who already has a high score.

So, how do you achieve that change?

Credit errors

One of the easiest ways to quickly improve your score is to check for errors in your credit report. You can get a free report each year from the three main credit bureaus--Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.

Look out for bills that have been mistakenly put under your name and for collections that shouldn’t be on your account.

Avoid new credit

One thing that can do short-term harm to your credit score is opening or attempting to open new lines of credit. That can be a store card, a loan, or getting your credit checked by a lender.

If you want to build credit quickly, making several inquiries could land you with a lower score than where you started.

Pay your regular expenses with credit

A good way to gain credit points in a few months is to pick a monthly expense to use your credit card for. Pay off your full balance at the end of each billing cycle to earn the most points while avoiding building up too much interest.





Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Donna Coffin on 11/11/2016

There’s so much to consider when to comes to buying a new home. The first issue is that of your finances. You need to make sure that you’re preparing financially for the home search, and not just making your list of “wants” for a new home. It’s an exciting time when you’re purchasing your first home, but don’t let the excitement overtake your responsibility. Here’s some tips to keep you on the financial straight and narrow path when preparing to buy a home: Be Mindful Of Your Credit Score There’s many factors that can affect your credit score. Applying for new credit cards is one of those factors. Your credit score will drop a few points every time you have a new credit inquiry or open a new account. If you do get approved for new credit, lenders may have concerns that you’ll spend up maxing out your new approved credit limit on that account and possibly default on your loan. Closing credit accounts is another factor that greatly affects your credit score. You may think that closing unused accounts is a good idea to help get yourself financially ready for becoming a homeowner. This isn’t true. Closing accounts lowers your amount of overall available credit. This means that your debt-to-credit ratio is larger. This lowers your overall credit score. You can certainly make these smart financial changes after you close on your new home. Keep Records When you move your money around, make sure you have records of it. Your lender will want to know about any unusual deposits and withdrawals. You’ll need to prove where your money comes from. All of the cash that you’ll be using for your home purchase should be in one account before you apply for a mortgage. Keep Up With Your Bills Don’t increase your debt. This will have an affect on the very important debt-to-income ratio which is one of the most vital aspects of loan approval. Also, be sure that you don’t skip your payments on bills. Your history of payments is incredibly important as well. Be sure that you continue to make full, on-time payments on all of your bills. Keep Your Job Even though a new job could mean a raise, or a better situation for you and your family, it could delay you in getting a mortgage. You’ll need to have your employment verified along with pay stubs to prove your source of income. Lenders like to see a longer employment history. Keep Saving The biggest up front costs in buying a home is that of closing costs and the down payment. Those must be paid at the time of closing. Lenders may even verify that your savings is on hand. Keep saving steadily and be sure to keep your savings in place.





Posted by Donna Coffin on 11/1/2013

One of the biggest things that can impact your ability to get a loan for a home is your credit score. Credit scores measure the risk a lender may take when deciding on a mortgage. If your credit score is not where you want it to be have no fear it's never too late to become credit worthy. Your credit score is also known as your FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) score, it is one of the tools that lenders use to evaluate a borrower's ability or likelihood to repay a loan. Credit scores range from 300 to 850 points. Credit scores over 720 are often considered excellent.  Scores of 680 – 719 are considered good. Scores that fall between 620-679 are questionable and typically require more review by the lender. A score under 619 usually disqualifies you from getting the best rates or even a loan at all. Here are five ways to raise your credit score: 1. Obtain your credit score from the three major credit score reporting agencies. They are Equifax, Experian and Transunion. 2. Review your report and look for any discrepancies. Your report will also give you a good idea of why your score may be low. According to myFICO.com, credit score calculation is based on five key components: payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit and types of credit used. 3. Come up with a plan to improve the five key components. Payment history carries the most weight it makes up 35% of your score. So be sure to pay your bills on time. 30% of your score is determined by the use of your available credit. Only use 30% of your maximum credit limit for each credit card and revolving accounts, using anything over that hurts your credit score. 4. If you have any past-due bills, judgments or collection accounts make arrangements to pay them as soon as possible. Some creditors may accept a portion of an amount due as payment in full. 5. Minimize your requests for new credit. Credit inquiries make up 10% of your score and can ultimately bring it down.