Linda D. Dempsey's Blog
It’s hard to overstate the importance of credit scores when it comes to buying a home. Along with your down payment, your credit score is a deciding factor of getting approved and securing a low interest rate.
Credit can be complicated. And, if you want to buy a home in the near future, it can seem daunting to try and increase your score while saving for a down payment.
However, it is possible to significantly increase your score in the months leading up to applying for a loan.
In today’s post, we’re going to talk about some ways to give your credit score a quick boost so that you can secure the best rate on your mortgage.
Should I focus on increasing my score or save for a down payment?
If you’re planning on buying a home, you might be faced with a difficult decision: to pay off old debt or to save a larger down payment.
As a general rule, it’s better to pay off smaller loans and debt before taking out larger loans. If you have multiple loans that you’re paying off that are around the same balance, focus on whichever one has the highest interest rate.
If you have low-interest loans that you can easily afford to continue paying while you save, then it’s often worth saving more for a down payment.
Remember that if you are able to save up 20% of your mortgage, you’ll be able to avoid paying PMI (private mortgage insurance). This will save you quite a bit over the span of your loan.
Starting with no credit
If you’ve avoided loans and credit cards thus far in your life but want to save for a home, you might run into the issue of not having a credit history.
To confront this issue, it’s often a good idea to open a credit card that has good rewards and use it for your everyday expenses like groceries. Then, set up the card to auto-pay the balance in full each month to avoid paying interest.
This method allows you to save money (you’d have to buy groceries and gas anyway) while building credit.
Correct credit report errors
Each of the main credit bureaus will have a slightly different method for calculating your credit score. Their information can also vary.
Each year, you’re entitled to one free report from each of the main bureaus. Take advantage of these free reports. They’re different from free credit checks that you can get from websites like Credit Karma because they’re much more detailed.
Go through the report line by line and make sure there aren’t any accounts you don’t recognize. It is not uncommon for people to find out that a scammer or even a family member has taken out a line of credit in their name.
Avoid opening several new accounts
Our final tip for boosting your credit score is to avoid opening up multiple accounts in the 6 months leading up to your mortgage application.
Opening multiple accounts is a red flag to lenders. It can show that you might be in a time of financial hardship and can temporarily lower your score.
Deciding to pay off your mortgage can be a confusing decision to make. You might be wondering about how you would take care of other financial debts or emergencies should they arise. Deciding to pay or not to pay off your mortgage early should be a decision made by you. The economic circumstances around you should determine this decision at the time.
It is tempting to continue paying for a mortgage in bits because of the benefits homeowners enjoy. As a homeowner though, there are situations when you find yourself considering the ‘paying down' option. Before you make such a financial decision though, you should speak to your financial advisor and be certain it's the best decision to make.
Pay off your mortgage early under any of these circumstances listed below:
So many people plan for retirement—it's a period when you want to be as comfortable as possible. Taking steps and putting things in place before you retire is one of the best financial decisions anyone can make. While making your retirement plan, it's advisable you consider paying off on your mortgage. The reason behind this is as soon as you come into retirement, your steady monthly inflow reduces (most of the time). You may have more available time on your hands to go on vacation and treat yourself out. Having the thought of mortgage payments over your head at this period might be a burden. Pay off the mortgage before retirement and reduce what you must worry about when you retire.
When you come into a significant amount of cash
When you get a large cash amount, and you have settled all your bills and taken out some for investment, if you still have enough left, it's advisable to use it to pay off your mortgage. Using an inheritance or insurance payout against your mortgage is useful, you might not get another opportunity to pay down that mortgage. However, your mortgage may have early liquidation fees which you have to consider. Where there is none, there's a higher incentive to pay off part or all of it.
Possible increase in the interest rate
The fear of an increased interest rate on an adjustable mortgage would make you consider paying off your mortgage especially if it's at a period when you can afford the money.
If you just happen to be the kind of person who is not risk inclined and would rather have one investment as opposed to having several investments that might yield more increase, it's better you pay off your home's mortgage as soon as you can.
Minimal tax benefit
A lot of the time people drag their feet as regards paying off the mortgage early because of the tax advantage they enjoy from having a mortgage. If your tax benefit is minimal or none — meaning you are not benefiting from a tax deduction for mortgage interest — it's advisable that you pay off your mortgage.
Paying off your mortgage is a personal choice that involves you looking at your whole financial picture to determine if it will be a wise decision. Speak to your financial planner for more insight.