The search for a new home can be an exciting one; however, before you begin your quest for that dream home, your REALTOR® would require that one of your first steps would be to meet with a mortgage lender. This individual will help you determine the price range at which you should be looking and at the end of the meeting if all goes well you should find yourself pre-qualified for a mortgage loan.
What is one of the primary factors that go into a lender's decision of whether or not to grant a loan? Credit scores. It has been estimated that nearly 75% of all mortgage loan decisions are made with the applicant's credit score in mind.
The importance of credit scores in mortgage decisions and real estate transactions has risen over the past decades, and this is in large part due to what the lenders call risk-based mortgage pricing. Essentially, the lender will make a decision on a mortgage based on how much risk is involved in the transaction. If an individual has a credit score below 700 (which I'm sure none of you do), then that tells the lender that they are at higher risk of defaulting on their obligation to pay, and that will be reflected in the loan that they propose. They may be offered a higher interest rate.
Now before you rush off to a free credit report website in a wave of panic, please keep in mind that a credit score is not a permanent and accurate representation of who you are as a person, and many mortgage lenders understand that. It is important to find a lender who can see you as an individual with your own story. That is not to say that you should ask them to completely disregard a credit score of 450 and give you a loan for that million dollar home, but there are some lenders out there who are willing to work with a low credit score, owing to the fact that you are not a number, but a person. They will take into account things like your rental history.
That being said, it can't hurt to try and raise your score before meeting with a lender, and there are many ways to do this. Getting a credit card and keeping up with the payments is a quick and easy way to improve your credit and show lenders that you are serious. In the end, that is all the lenders want. They want to know that you are a responsible borrower and understand the value of a positive credit history, and a high credit score will give them a good first impression.