Boost Your Credit Score or Boost Your Spam?

Experian, one of the big 3 credit bureaus, has been actively promoting that consumers can “boost” their credit score using their services. Since I help people with their credit and mortgage needs for my profession, this naturally got my attention.

I chuckled when I visited Experian’s website. It seems obvious to me that they are really trying to target younger borrowers.

Yes, only Experian can raise your FICO score…BUT this is because only Experian has what is referred to as the “FICO” score. The other two big credit bureaus, Transunion and Equifax, have other nick-names for their credit reports. They are all essentially the same. It’s really just a brand name.

If you’re doing this for the purpose of increasing your score for a mortgage loan, please be sure to double check the asterisk * which states that lenders may use a different FICO score. Currently, lenders (mortgage, car, etc.) do receive different credit scores than what a consumer may obtain online. Hopefully one day this will change…however as I write this post, this is not the case. We’re still pulling from the same big three credit bureaus, however, their scoring modules for various types of lenders are different than what the consumer can obtain. So bottom line, adding your utilities to the credit report and “boosting” your score may not help with the score your lender obtains.

Why is Experian offering this? They want your information so they can sell it over and over again. If you are considering doing a credit boost, PLEASE check out their privacy policy! It’s amazing what they will collect about you.

In fact, if you do anything, I encourage you to check out the Privacy Policy. Perhaps share it with your teens or young adult children so they can learn more about how their information is used when they sign up for a service like this.

As a mortgage lender, when we pull a credit report that has been credit boosted, it shows that utilities have been added. I don’t believe this will really make the difference for someone being able to qualify for a mortgage.

If you do want to improve your credit score for the purpose of obtaining a mortgage, I recommend contacting a local licensed loan office. Most would be happy to work with you. I personally really enjoy helping someone improve their credit so they’re in a better position to buy a home. It may not be as fast as a “boost” but it should be more effective.

By the way, the credit bureaus have been selling your information as “leads” for years. I find it disgusting and I’ve covered trigger leads before on this blog. NAMB (National Association of Mortgage Brokers) has been trying to convince Congress to stop this practice for years. As soon as you have your credit report ran, your information is sold to other lenders.

Bottom line, if you’re considering buying or refinancing a home located anywhere in Washington state, I’m happy to help you! I’ll even work with you to improve your credit score. 🙂

RIP RainCityGuide

6a00d834522f5769e2010537042aad970c-600wiRain City Guide, back in the day, was a resource for people interested in all things about Seattle…especially real estate. I was beyond honored to join the RCG panel back in 2007 to represent the mortgage industry. [Read more…]

Should you work with a local lender?

The other day, while on Facebook, I came across a stat that my friend and real estate educator, Jillayne Schlicke had posted in response which surprised me. Her comment was in response to an article she had shared on Zillow acquiring a mortgage company that has licenses in all 50 states.

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What the ??? Wells Fargo!

Wells Fargo has been in the media quite a bit recently for terrible things the bank has done to their consumer clients and employees. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out…this is another example of how a powerful large bank has taken total advantage of consumers. [Read more…]

Been turned down by a big bank for a mortgage? You’re not alone!

A recent report from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council revealed that big banks have a very high cancellation rate for home loan applicants.

In 2012, according to this data, Chase declined almost a third of their mortgage applicants with Bank of America denying 25.6% and Wells Fargo rejecting 21% of their mortgage applicants. Quicken Loans and U.S. Bank turned down 17% of their mortgage applicants.
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Main Stream Media Misses Message on Mortgages [Rant Warning]

2013-08-14_1419Recently a piece that was aired on ABC news about mortgages and was brought to my attention. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen something so misleading and sensational about what consumers should watch for when obtaining a mortgage.

The segment features Erin Lantz from Zillow who claims to have saved a couple thousands of dollars on their home mortgage. Erin is Zillow’s Director of Mortgage Business and prior to Zillow, her lending career was at Countrywide and Bank of America, during the subrime era.

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One month left before FHA mortgage insurance is permanent…SO WHAT??

Borrowers not wanting to have FHA mortgage insurance as part of their mortgage payment for the life of the loan have about thirty days to take action. This shouldn’t be a reason to panic. 🙂

Effective FHA case numbers issued June 3, 2013 and later, FHA mortgage insurance will become a permanent part of the FHA mortgage payment.

Why do I say “SO WHAT?”

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Ben Bernanke says mortgage underwriting standards are too tight

In his speech at Operation HOPE Financial Dignity Summit yesterday on the challenges of the housing market and mortgage lending, FOMC Chairman Bernanke expressed concerns that mortgage underwriting has become “overly tight”. 

“…Some tightening of credit standards was an appropriate response to the lax lending conditions that prevailed in the years leading up to the peak in house prices. Mortgage loans that were poorly underwritten or inappropriate for the borrower’s circumstances ultimately had devastating consequences for many families and communities, as well as for the financial institutions themselves and the broader economy.

However, it seems likely at this point that the pendulum has swung too far the other way, and that overly tight lending standards may now be preventing creditworthy borrowers from buying homes, thereby slowing the revival in housing and impeding the economic recovery.’

Borrowers who have recently purchased a home or closed on a non-streamlined refinance would most likely agree with Ben Bernanke’s views on underwriting guidelines. And for the most part, I do too. Today’s home buyer will often find every aspect of their income, assets and credit scrutinized. For example, Form 4506 (which was once used primarily for stated or no-income verified loans) is now pulled on every mortgage in process to obtain a copy of the tax transcripts for the the past two years. Any discrepancies between the 4506 and income supplied must be addressed, which often leads to the borrowers having to provide complete tax returns instead of just their W2’s. If a borrower has deposits on their bank statements that are not easily identified, they can expect to show proof of where that deposit came from. Credit reports may disclose information that the borrower may need to address as well beyond the good old “inquiry letter”. Now they disclose information about activity associated to a borrowers address that may or may not relate to the borrower. Don’t get me wrong, loans are closing however the process for some can require a great deal of patience and paperwork.

“When lenders were asked why they have originated fewer mortgages, they cited a variety of concerns, starting with worries about the economy, the outlook for house prices, and their existing real estate loan exposures. They also mention increases in servicing costs and the risk of being required by government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) to repurchase delinquent loans (so-called putback risk).”

“Putbacks” are also referred to as “buy-backs”. And buy-backs tend to roll down hill to the source that originated the mortgage, including  banks and correspondent lenders like Mortgage Master Service Corporation. This happens when the loan (borrower) is not performing. The lender will go over the loan documents with a fine tooth comb to try to find fault in the underwriting so they can justify sending the loan (forcing a buy-back) to the originating lender. This is why many borrowers are having to over-document their finances.

The Federal Reserve’s Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices indicates that lenders began tightening mortgage credit standards in 2007 and have not significantly eased standards since.

Ben Bernanke and the Fed cannot control the underwriting guidelines and overlays that banks have for mortgage lending. I certainly do not want to see the loose underwriting of the subprime era return. However I do agree that for the most part, underwriting has become pretty tight and I would welcome more “common sense” for well qualified borrowers.

Mr. Bernanke needs to brush up on Frank Dodd and how it will continue impact the mortgage industry and underwriting guidelines.

Your thoughts?