Q. I’m seeking a credit score for lease or purchase for property opportunities. I have a credit report that I downloaded in August 2018 but my score was not included. Many in the property business are asking for this. Where should I get my credit score?
Getting ready to rent or buy a property can be very exciting. Knowing your credit score and what’s on your credit report is one of the most important steps in the process. You already have one, but you should also review information reported by the other two credit reporting agencies to make sure they are error-free. You can always get your free credit reports from each of the three main credit bureaus–Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion–every 12 months at www.annualcreditreport.com.
Getting your score is a bit different because not all scores are created equal. Currently, there are two main scoring models used in the financial industry, the FICO Score and VantageScore. Both scoring models use the same information in your credit report to generate your score. The only difference between them is the way they weigh-in your data when calculating your score. Generally, you can expect to be within the same score range in both models, although some consumers have reported that they typically have a higher VantageScore than a FICO Score.
I bring up the distinction because currently most mortgage lenders still prefer to use the FICO scoring model. So, you should know what kind of score you are getting and what score your financial institution will use because it may not be the same. You can get your VantageScore at no cost to you through “free score providers.” The list includes several lenders (banks), like Capital One and Chase, and other non-lender companies like Credit Karma. On the other hand, you’ll have to pay a fee to access your FICO Score. You can get it directly from FICO or through the three main credit bureaus (from which you can also get your VantageScores from). They may offer you a free score with a monitoring service one-week free trial, but after the trial period expires you will be charged a monthly fee if you don’t cancel. You could also get your score from a lender if you have asked or gotten a loan recently or if you received credit counseling.
Now, when you are looking to become a homeowner or rent a property, real estate realtors will usually ask for more than just your credit score. They will ask about your income and overall financial situation to know how much home you can afford to pay. If you are buying, your realtor will ask for a pre-approval letter from a lender. This letter basically states that the lender is willing to offer you a mortgage loan and for how much, based on your income and credit history. If you think you are not ready to buy or rent just yet, consider talking to an NFCC-certified credit counselor. They can help you review your overall financial situation, your credit, and help get ready to rent or buy. The road to homeownership can be long, but it starts with you knowing your credit score and where you stand financially. You are not alone; your counselor can help. Remember, the best way to make the most of an opportunity is to be ready when it arises. Best of luck!
Bruce McClary, Vice President of Communications
Bruce McClary is the Vice President of Communications for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®). Based in Washington, D.C., he provides marketing and media relations support for the NFCC and its member agencies serving all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Bruce is considered a subject matter expert and interfaces with the national media, serving as a primary representative for the organization. He has been a featured financial expert for the nation’s top news outlets, including USA Today, MSNBC, NBC News, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, MarketWatch, Fox Business, and hundreds of local media outlets from coast to coast.