If you’re planning to buy a house or rent an apartment, you should know your credit score. Why? In today’s real estate market if you submit a bid to buy a house or apply to lease an apartment, the owner/land lord wants to make sure that you’ll qualify for a mortgage or be financially able to pay the monthly rent. When I start to work with a client I ask him/her if he/she has a recent copy of his/her credit report. I explain that the information will remain absolutely confidential, but that a good credit report helps assure the owner/landlord that a serious offer is being made.
Even if you’re not planning to buy or rent, you should take advantage of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which gives you a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the major credit reporting agencies. Why would you want a copy? Here’s what the Federal Trade Commission says:
“Your credit report has information that affects whether you can get a loan – and how much you will have to pay to borrow money. You want a copy of your report to:
Make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before you apply for a major purchase like a house or car, buy insurance, or apply for a job.
Help guard against identity theft. That’s when someone uses your personal information – like your name, Social Security number or credit card number – to commit fraud. Identity thieves may use your information to get a new credit card account in your name. Then, when they don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report. Inaccurate information like that could affect your ability to get credit, insurance or even a job.”
You probably know that there are 3 major credit agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. I recommend that every 4 months you apply to ONE of the three agencies asking for a copy of your report. In that way you’ll be able to continuously monitor your credit 3 times throughout the year. For example, contact Equifax in May, Experian in September and TransUnion in January. Write notes on your calendar to remind yourself, and I’ll also remind you 4 months from now in my blog. Whether you apply online or by using either of the other two methods, you’ll need to provide your name, address, Social Security number and date of birth.
When you ask for your free report, be careful. There’s only one central website, a toll-free number, and a mailing address you should use. The official web site is https://www.annualcreditreport.com, and you can get all of the information about it, the toll free number and the mailing address at the Federal Trade Commission website, http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre34.shtm (be sure to read the warning about “Imposter” websites).
Hope you found this information useful. If you have any questions, feel free to call me at (732) 239-0739 or email me at email@example.com. The time to build a relationship with a real estate professional is BEFORE you plan to buy or sell a house.