In the Market: New view into your FICO score

Nneka Madus
Posted by Nneka Madus
Mortgage Market Analyst

This weekly feature is a real estate news and information roundup from a millennial’s point of view. When a young professional moves from Indianapolis (median home price $125K) to San Francisco (median price $1 million), you can expect an adventure.  Nneka Madus, an analyst in Bank of the West’s Mortgage Division, did just that and has plenty to share in her quest to own a home in San Francisco.

Friends reviewing house-hunting paperworkDown payment money may be more available than you realize. I’m not even talking about hitting your parents up for money. There’s another way: down payment assistance programs. The purpose of down payment programs is to help certain homebuyers cover part (or all) of the down payment; income limits vary by location, and the programs aren’t always limited to first-time home buyers. Trey Garrison from Housing Wire explores the availability of the down payment assistance programs. If you’re having trouble coming up with the money for a down payment, you may have options. The money is out there; there is, according to Trey’s article, at least one down payment program in every U.S. county.

Now that the football season is over, my Sundays basically consist of sleeping in, catching up with my mom, and running errands. However, if you’re home-hunting, your Sundays will probably be dominated by open houses. When I was younger, I remember going to open houses with my parents when they were looking for a home in Indianapolis. I needed to know if the house had a pool? Would I be getting my own bedroom? And was there going to be food at the open house? These were serious concerns when I was 11, but now that I’m an adult, there are other factors that I should probably consider. Alex Veiga from AP gives 5 tips to help get the most out of visiting an open house.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” As much as I wish this wasn’t the case, this quote by Ben Franklin makes me think of the mortgage loan process. Preparation is key, and homebuyers are getting a little help from Fair Isaac Corp, the developer of the FICO credit score. The company recently announced that it is now selling consumers a look at certain versions of their FICO score that had previously been mostly unavailable. Maybe you’ve checked your credit score using one of the many free-credit-score sites, but most mortgage lenders use a completely different score than the one you may have seen. Annamaria Andriotis, a blogger for the Wall Street Journal, breaks down how homebuyers may be able to take advantage of this extra information. Knowing your score in advance can be helpful when shopping for a mortgage, and it may help you determine if now is the time to get a mortgage or to wait, and work on improving your score.

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