For credit-worthy Santa Barbara homebuyers, getting a mortgage can be a walk in the park…or a nerve-wracking nightmare. The difference usually has to do with those ubiquitous Credit Reports – the ones TV commercials want to send you for free (at which point they will try to sell you not-so-free monthly services).
Anyone who has ever been stalled just as they reached the final stages of getting a mortgage or refinancing knows that getting mad doesn’t solve anything. But avoiding a last-minute problem is easy to do if you plan ahead. At least six months ahead. We like to assume that outfits as important as the reporting agencies know what they are doing, and in fact, they do. But they must start with the right information, which is where we come in. Nobody ever told us this in school, but it’s ultimately our responsibility to see that our credit reports are accurate.
Whether or not you think you will getting a mortgage or refi soon, here are some plan-ahead, proactive steps everyone can and should take. Monitor for these common stumbling blocks:
1. Inaccurate information on the credit report. The first step is to read your reports. It is very important that you request those free copies of your credit reports and dispute any negative items that seem to have appeared for no reason. All three credit bureaus are required to remove inaccurate information, and they will do so, but only after you tell them to. My experience is that the agencies can be quick to respond…or as slow as molasses in January. In Antarctica. The only sure way to set things right is to allow them time to correct or to ask for more information.
2. Carrying too much revolving debt adds an unnecessary obstacle for getting a mortgage. A large part of a credit score is based on your revolving debt ratios. Revolving debt should be kept at or under 20%. If you are carrying more revolving debt than that, take this lead-time to whittle it down to a more loan-attracting ratio.
3. Taking on new debt less than six months before getting a mortgage: bad idea. If you are planning on getting a mortgage or refinance, avoid taking on other new debt in the six months leading up to your application. This solves any question over whether you will be able to pay the new debt as well as the mortgage amount.