5 Credit Myths for First-Time Homebuyers

The Real Estate industry can be intimidating to first-time homebuyers, especially when they begin the preapproval and prequalification process.  Below we’ll refute the most popular credit myths in today’s real estate market.

Myth #1: Closing an Old Account Will Help Your Credit 

This is a very common misconception about credit impact.  Lenders mainly review a real estate agent’s client’s credit history by looking at how long accounts have been open.  Typically, lenders average out all of your current and past accounts to get an accurate, standard length of time.  Therefore, the longer your accounts have been open, the better.  

Myth #2: All Debt is Treated Equally 

There are many different kinds of debt, and each one has a different risk and purpose.  These risks are what lenders evaluate when examining your credit.  For example, short-term accounts (credit cards) are viewed as more risky if the account has a high amount of revolving debt.  In contrast, a long term debt (a 30 year mortgage) is viewed as less risky because of the extended amount of time you have to pay off your debt.  Basically, if you have a maxed out credit card and a car loan with a high balance, the credit card is more detrimental to your credit. 

Myth #3: Your Credit Can Be Improved With the Help of Credit Repair Companies 

Popular companies, such as Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion advertise their ability to supposedly improve your credit.  But before you buy into all of their promises and craft a utopian view of your credit, remember the saying, “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”  These companies can only help you establish a plan to consolidate your debt.  They cannot reverse your debt, nor magically make it disappear.  To put it simply, in order to reduce your debt, you need to pay off your account.  If homebuyers want to create this plan by themselves, they need to make a spreadsheet with their periodic expenses along with their monthly income to map out a timeline for debt payments. 

Myth #4: When You Pay Off Your Debt, It Gets Removed From Your Credit Report 

False.  A missed payment or a collection has the ability to remain on your credit report for up to 7 years.  Even though paying off this debt will stop banks from trying to collect on it, there is no possible way to remove a derogatory mark from your credit history unless it was reported incorrectly. 

Myth #5: Your Credit Report Reflects Your Relationship Status 

Questions regarding information like employment, income, and relationship status are not reported to credit bureaus and will only come up during the credit application process.  Your relationships, whether past or present, do not appear on your credit report.  Therefore, if one partner does not pay a debt and you are on the account, you will both be impacted negatively. 

As a homebuyer, you should schedule consultations with lenders about entering the preapproval process for a loan and to formulate a plan for debt payment that allows you to have a better interest rate.  Real estate agents have an abundance of information about the homebuying process from their years of experience, so feel free to call our top notch agents at VB Realty Group for your credit questions and real estate endeavors. 

If you want to read Vance Kellogg’s full article, click the link below.


Clear Negative Items from Your Credit Report

When applying for credit or loans, your clean report will mean lower interest rates.  So if you have one or more negatives on your credit report, use the following strategies to fix it:

  1. Dispute: If the business/company that reported the an item (the “Reporting Business”—this can be a bank or credit card, too) made a mistake, then contact them and dispute it !  Businesses are required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to investigate and correct errors.  Insist that they correct their error with all three credit-reporting bureaus.  

  2. Dispute Again: If the reporting business doesn’t fix it, contact the three Credit Reporting Bureaus yourself (again, this is if there’s an error involved).  The bureau is required by the FCRA to investigate and correct items that are wrong.

  3. Pay to Delete It.  If it wasn’t an error, you can offer to pay the debt (with a pay-for-delete letter) if they will delete it from your credit report.  You could try offering a settlement instead of the full amount—no harm in trying!

  4. Write a Goodwill Letter.  Ask the creditor for a “Goodwill Deletion.”  This works best if it was a one-time mistake on your part, such as a late or skipped payment.  The company doesn’t have to do it, or even respond…so just persuade them that you realize the error you made and explain that you’ve become more responsible now.  It’s worth a shot.

  5. Wait It Out: This can take a long time, and the length of time varies.  However the impact of a negative item on your credit score will diminish with the years, even while it’s still there on your reports.  Meanwhile, try hard to keep new negatives from hopping onto the bus.

  6. Hire a Professional Credit Repair Service.  For about $100 per month, a reputable service can help you correct errors, dispute negative items, and negotiate with creditors.  You can do these things on your own, but if your situation is complicated, this might be for you.  

Strategies That Won’t Work:

  1. Filing for bankruptcy.  Sure, it can eliminate your debt—but it will ruin your credit score and will be visible on your credit report for seven long years.  Only do it if you are desperate!

  2. Closing the account with the negative item.  Just don’t.  Doing so will not remove the debt.  It will lower your amount of available credit, thus damaging your credit-to-debt ratio on your credit score formula.

Regularly reviewing your credit reports is the best way to stay on top of your score.  Be patient and pursue all avenues when addressing problems.  Your credit score affects your ability to obtain credit cards, loans, insurance—and the interest rate for each of these.  For the full article, click here: