You know when you buy a home that your credit score matters, but do you see all of the numbers that matter to your financial picture when you’re buying a home? Your debt-to-income ratio is one of the most critical figures that will influence if you can get a mortgage and what type of rate you can get.
What Is A Debt-To-Income Ratio?
This number is exactly what it states: the ratio of debt divided by your gross monthly income. Your credit report doesn't include any of this income information. This number is actually the best way to see if you’re living within your means or not. This way, your lender will know your monthly debt payments along with your monthly income.
If your ratio of debt is high, you may not get a loan or get less desirable interest rates than if you had lower amounts of debt. Even if you have a high credit score, your debt-to-income ratio could affect these things. In reality, a higher debt ratio will make it harder for you to pay back your debt, so it’s important to you.
How It’s Calculated
You can use an online tool to help you calculate your debt-to-income ratio. You can also use a simple formula if you’re up for doing some math yourself:
Divide your monthly debt payments by your monthly gross income then multiply that number by 100. For example:
Student loans: $400
Car loan: $300
1400/4000= 0.35 x 100= 35%
You should also be aware of something called your household ratio. The household is the amount of home-related expenses which includes property taxes, prospective mortgage, home insurance, and more. These costs are divided by your monthly income to get this ratio as well. Obviously, your household debt adds to your financial commitments and is also put into consideration by your lender.
What’s A Good Debt-To-Income Ratio?
It’s ideal that you keep your ratio less than 36%. Your household ratio should be even lower than this. It’s great to be debt free, but in the real world, that’s not always possible. Your best bet is to be responsible with your finances and work on paying your debt down as much as you can. Then, little by little all of the critical numbers that are required to get a mortgage will fall into place.
Everyone knows that their credit score will affect the mortgage they qualify for and the interest rate they receive. The details of how exactly those numbers are arrived at, however, are a bit hazy for the average prospective homeowner.
This confusion is due to a number of reasons. Chief among them is the fact that your average person isn’t well-versed in credit terminology or the variables that go into determining their credit scores.
In this article, I’m going to break down credit scores and credit bureaus, then discuss how each of them affects the mortgage rate you could receive. Then, we’ll talk about some ways you can boost your score to qualify for a better rate.
Anatomy of a credit score
Credit scores are determined by five main variables. In order of importance, they are:
35%: your payment history on loans, bills, credit cards, etc.
30%: your total debt amount for all of your accounts
15%: length of your credit history (how long you’ve had open accounts for loans, credit cards, etc.)
10%: types of credit you have used (auto loan, student loan, credit card… diversity of loans matters)
10%: recent credit inquiries (such as taking out new loans or opening new credit cards)
To have a “good” (over 700) or “excellent” (over 750) credit score, you’ll need to focus on each of these factors. For most people, paying their bills on time over a long enough timeline is enough to get them into the excellent range.
But things happen in life. People forget to pay an important bill, they have financial emergencies, or they have to take out a loan for an unforeseeable expense.
The credit bureaus
So, who are the people that determine your credit score?
There are three main credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Lenders will look at reports from all three bureaus to determine your rate. Due to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, consumers are able to receive a free copy of their credit report from each bureau once per year.
Since then, companies like Credit Karma have made credit reports even more accessible. Users are able to check in on their credit as often as they want free of charge.
Since much of your credit score is out of your hands, at least in the short-term, what can you do to help boost your score over the next few months to increase your chances of getting a good interest rate on your loan? Two things.
Credit and mortgages
So, just how much of an impact does your credit score have on your mortgage rate? Having an excellent score can give you a full percentage point lower on your monthly interest rate.
One percent doesn’t seem like much, but over the period of a 30-year loan that can amount to tens of thousands of dollars that you could have saved if you had a better credit score. As you can imagine, having an extra $2,000 per year can be quite helpful to a new homeowner.
So, what can you do to boost your score?
Since you have access to free credit reports be sure to go through your detailed report a few months before you plan to apply for a mortgage. Report any harmful errors to help you increase your score.
Don’t apply for new credit
The period from now until you apply for a mortgage is an important one. If you make new credit inquiries (i.e., open up new credit cards, take out new loans, etc.), your score will temporarily decrease. Wait until after you sign on your mortgage to take out other loans.
If you’re a first-time homebuyer, odds are you’ve thrown the words “prequalified” and “preapproved” interchangeably. However, when it comes to home loans, there are some very important differences between the two.
For buyers hoping to purchase a home with a few missteps and misunderstandings as possible, it’s vital to understand the procedures involved in acquiring financing for a home.
Today, we’ll break down these two real estate jargon terms so that you can go into the mortgage approval process armed with the knowledge to help you succeed in securing a home loan.
Let’s start with the easy part--mortgage prequalification. Getting prequalified helps borrowers find out what kind and what size mortgage they can likely secure financing for. It also helps lenders establish a relationship with potential customers, which is why you will often see so many ads for mortgage prequalification around the web.
Prequalification is a relatively simple process. You’ll be asked to provide an overview of your finances, which your lender will plug into a formula and then report back to you whether or not you’re likely to get approved based on your current circumstances.
The lender will ask you for general information about your income, assets, debt, and credit. You won’t need to provide exact documents for these things at this phase in the process, since you have not yet technically applied for a mortgage.
Prequalification exists to give you a broad picture of what you can expect. You can use this information to plan for the future, or you can seek out other lenders for a second opinion. But, before you start shopping for homes, you’ll want to make sure you’re preapproved, not prequalified.
After you’ve prequalified, you can start thinking about preapproval. If you’re serious about buying a home in the near future, getting preapproved will simplify your buying process. It will also make sellers more likely to take you seriously, since you already have your financing partially secured.
Mortgage preapproval requires you to provide the lender with income documentation. They will also perform a credit inquiry to receive your FICO score.
Mortgage applications and credit scores
Before we talk about the rest of the preapproval process, we need to address one common issue that buyers face when applying for a mortgage. There are two types of credit inquiries that lenders can perform to view your credit history--hard inquiries and soft inquiries.
A soft inquiry won’t affect your credit score. But a hard inquiry can lower your score by a few points for a period of 1 to 2 months. So, when getting preapproved, you should expect your credit score to drop temporarily.
Once you’re preapproved for a mortgage, you can safely begin looking at homes. If you decide to make an offer on a home and your offer is accepted, your preapproval will make it easier to move forward in closing on the home.
Once the lender checks off on the house you’re making an offer on, they will send you a loan commitment letter, enabling you to move forward with closing on the home.
An engaging home listing can play a key role in your ability to sell your house. If your listing hits the mark with potential buyers, the likelihood increases that buyers will set up showings to view your residence. And as a result, it may be only a matter of time before you receive multiple offers to purchase your house.
Ultimately, creating an engaging home listing can be simple – here are three tips to help you craft an effective listing for your residence.
1. Provide Accurate Information About Your Home
A home listing often introduces a buyer to a house. If a listing includes accurate information about a residence, a buyer may be inclined to check out a particular house sooner rather than later.
Remember, it is your duty as a home seller to help a buyer make an informed decision about whether to pursue your residence. If you include accurate information about your house's age and condition in your listing, you can make it easy for a homebuyer to determine whether your residence is the right choice based on his or her individual needs.
2. Include High-Resolution Photos of Your Home
An engaging home listing includes lots of relevant information about a home. At the same time, this listing should feature plenty of high-resolution photos that showcase the true size and beauty of each room of your residence.
If possible, take photographs that can help buyers envision what it is like to walk through your house. You may want to clean your home from top to bottom and remove clutter before you take these photos as well.
For those who want extra help with real estate photography, you can always hire a professional photographer. Because if you have a real estate photographer at your side, you can reap the benefits of top-notch photographs that can be incorporated into your home listing.
3. Keep Your Home Listing Simple
There is no need to use big words or complex phrases to try to differentiate your home listing from others. Instead, keep things simple, and homebuyers can decide for themselves whether to move forward with a home showing.
Lastly, if you need help crafting an engaging home listing, you can always reach out to a real estate agent for assistance. This housing market professional can provide expert guidance throughout the home selling journey and ensure you can achieve the optimal results.
A real estate agent will learn about your home and help you put together an informative home listing. He or she also will set up home showings and open house events to promote your residence to prospective buyers. And if you receive an offer to purchase your house, a real estate agent can help you review this proposal and determine the best course of action.
Ready to add your house to the real estate market? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can create an engaging listing to help your house stand out to dozens of potential buyers.