Buying or Refinancing Your Mortgage With Adverse Credit Part 1
Living the dream of having your own home can seem like an impossible goal when you have serious blemishes in your credit history such as many missed and late bill payments, perpetually maxed out credit cards, and maybe even a bankruptcy or foreclosure. Let me say this up front: there are no magic wand solutions. But solving your problems through hard work (yes, I know, hard work is, well, hard) has the power to teach you things you never could have learned by finding the easy way out. You become stronger and smarter. Also, when you are tempted by the same pitfalls that got you into your problems- a shiny new boat, a designer pair of shoes, whatever your "candy" is- the memory of your rough road back can serve as a quick and powerful reminder that can snap you out of the tempting object's trance. But enough wistful imagining of yourself wisely staying on track after you've gotten there. Doesn't it seem so easy to daydream about having already finished the work to do as the time to start working draws near? That itself is a particularly effective deterrent to getting a good start on the path to repairing your credit. So let's start!
Part 1- Get Your Credit ReportYou may have an idea where you're at as far as your credit is concerned. If you've recently tried to prequalify for a home loan your agent might have shared with you some of the contents of your credit score after making an official inquiry. In the United States, the three major credit bureaus are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Your credit score is a number between 300 and 850 and a higher score means it's easier for you to get approved and get better interest rates for loans and mortgages, among other things.If you don't know what your credit report looks like, you can find out without negatively affecting it once every 12 months by going to Annualcreditreport.com. Don't worry! This is not one of those corny companies whose commercials on TV have people singing and playing guitars while dancing in a pirate suit. This is the only federally mandated source for obtaining a free copy of your credit report. The many companies that you see advertising a fee credit report, such as freecreditreport.com, if you listen carefully to their commercials you'll hear a quick voice and microscopic lettering which appears for a few seconds at the bottom of your screen saying "offer applies with enrollment in 'Triple Advantage'."
If you do your homework and learn about this Triple Advantage program and decide that it has value for you, great! But if you just want to get your free, no-strings-attached annual credit report that the law allows you to get, you don't need to, and probably shouldn't, use one of the third-party companies out there to do it. Just remember, Annualcreditreport.com is the only non-third party source and you can only get your credit report once every 12 months without affecting it. You could, of course, get an inquiry every month or every day, but doing so would affect your score.Now, if you go to the site, you will be asked to enter some private information like your name, address, and social security number, but not your credit card number(s). You can select one, two, or all three of the credit agencies you want to get your free annual report from. Here's an example strategy to get the most out of your free annual credit report: Say it's January 1, 2008. Go to Annualcreditreport.com and register and select to get your free credit report from Experian. Then four months and a day later, on May 1, go there again but this time select TransUnion. On September 1, get your free annual credit report from Equifax. See? You can have a free credit report once a year from EACH of the three major credit bureaus.Just one more note about this topic: this free credit report will be what it says it is- a report. Prepare yourself to possibly look at a lot of data and raw text, depending on the length of your credit history. You may find yourself scanning across the page just looking for your credit score- that single number I mentioned above. We all love to boil things down, to cut to the chase, but for whatever reason, the number won't be there on your free credit report! The actual score number is available as an add-on to the report for a fee. But I'm telling you that you will have the really useful information in your hands and that you can get to work without that one number.
In Part 2, we'll look at how to interpret the report and come up with a plan on how to act on that information. Remember, the journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step.