Clean Up Your Credit Report
For anyone who has looked into to buying a home several times—but kept getting discouraged every time because of a negative credit report—read on!
You probably already know that you are not alone—but so what?—it’s small consolation, especially when you consider how much financial ground you lose every year you continue to pay rent (the entire amount of which has zero tax deductibility). Many people mishandle credit in their teens and 20s, not knowing how it can come back to bite them when credit reports determine their credit worthiness. We see the fallout in the form of mortgage application turndowns or discouraging interest rate proposals.
But that just makes it all the more important that you stop letting past errors continue to keep you from getting the loans and rates you want. You can choose to take action now to clean up that credit score. Not only will it speed the moment when you become eligible for the significant benefits of home ownership—the actions you take now will serve to set you in the driver seat when it comes to credit management. You will become aware of any apparently minor oversights that can depress your credit score for years to come. It will put you ‘in the game’ of credit report management, instead of continuing to be a passive outsider.
Steps consumers can take now:
Review your credit file for accurate information
The credit reporting bureaus’ job is to report the most accurate information possible, but in the past the Federal Trade Commission has found that 5% of reports have at least one mistake. Get your current credit report from any number of services (start with a free one: you can always subscribe to a paid service later). Check all the accounts and verify that the amounts reported and the account statuses are correct. If a creditor reported your information incorrectly, file a dispute through the credit bureaus’ online sites to get the inaccuracy fixed. The same FTC report says that 13% of consumers who reported an error saw a boost in their credit score.
Get old negative accounts removed
Credit reports carry negative information like missed payments or a collection account for seven years, but are required to delete it after that. If an account is lingering past the seven year mark, use the dispute tools available on credit bureaus’ websites to mark the account as too old for reporting. Note that the seven-year time period is calculated from the date of first delinquency, not the date the account was first opened.
Talk to collection companies about their input
Even when you pay off collection accounts, that history continues to hurt your credit score. Some lenders look solely at those details when starting the process, so even paid collections can disqualify you for a loan. Instead of dealing with this frustrating problem, while you are negotiating with collection agencies to pay off a debt, ask that they put in writing that they will remove their report as part of their part of the bargain for your satisfaction of the debt. Some agencies will and some won’t (but it can’t hurt to ask).
Once you have acted, and begun to see the negatives dropping off your current credit report, your path to local home ownership will open up markedly. Then it’s time to give me a call!
Clean Up Your Credit Report