It can take years for first-time buyers to save up for their first home's down payment, but even after that hurdle has been cleared, it can take even more time to secure a mortgage -- if they have neglected the other part of the equation. Their credit rating.
Before first-time buyers in the Boston area will be able to move forward with that initial home purchase, they need to ensure that their credit score does not raise the kind of questions that sometimes derails an otherwise well-qualified home loan applicant. This has always been true, but may become even more likely as lending limitations grow increasingly strict.
But it's the occasional recording error or misstatement that is most easily preventable. Ironically, those often affect perfectly well-qualified buyers--precisely because they have no reason to suspect that a problem could crop up.
The upshot: first time buyers should start reviewing their credit history one year to six months before they intend to buy a home. Since the credit agencies provide upon request free copies of every individual's report once each year, the only hassle is having to check the details line-by-line (a single reporting error can have a big impact on an overall score). And since it's not unusual to take 90 days or more to cure a disputed entry, the earlier a first-time buyer begins the process, the better. Individuals can file a dispute online with the credit bureaus, or can hire a credit repair company to assist with disputes. In all cases, claims should be documented and correct information provided immediately.
Once a first-time buyer is certain that his or her reports are accurate, is it time to relax? Hardly. It's important to continue to monitor those scores to ensure against accidental surprises. Especially recently, after wholesale credit card thefts sowed confusion and disruption throughout the system, it's probably wise to assume nothing. Several online services offer credit monitoring (and it's possible that your bank might provide free monitoring).
From first-time buyers to seasoned investors, I'm here to help my clients every step of the way. Contact me
or call me today! 617-536-8000.