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Improving Your Credit Score

Does your credit score keep you up at night? For some, this one detail in their life doesn’t pop up in their mind very much, because they know they’re making good money and paying all the bills on time. When you’re in that boat, it feels pretty good. But when you miss a payment or you struggle to pay all those credit cards, lines of credit and even your mortgage, it feels instead like you’re on a sinking ship without a life raft to save you.

If you’re credit challenged but want to get into the housing market, it can be a tough road to hoe. But improving your credit to a point where a lender will give you chance, is very doable.

First, I won’t bore you with the detailed minutia of credit scores. Basically, what you need to know is a score above 680 puts you in a good position to get financing, while below will make it tough and improvement is needed.

Your credit score tells lenders some basic stuff about your credit: How long you’ve had credit, your ability to pay back that credit and how much you owe. And so your credit score is affected by how much debt you’re carrying in regards to limit, how many cards or tradelines you have and your history of repayment.

If you’re a young person and new to the world of credit, consider the 2-2-2 rule to help build up your credit. Lenders want to see two forms or revolving credit, like credit cards, with limits no less than $2,000 and a clean history of payment for two years. It’s also good to note, a great credit score will also include keeping a balance on all those cards at any given time below 30 per cent of the limit.

If you get “pre-approved” without a request for documents, it’s basically worthless. It’s also good to note, no lender will give you a firm approval until you get an offer that is accepted.

So, you’ve now found the home you want and have an accepted offer. You’re moving from pre-approval to actual approval of financing but you’re not out of the clear yet. Any final approval is pending the lender confirming the details. Just because you’re pre-approved, doesn’t mean you’ll eventually be approved for any property you want. In some cases, you could have all the right income and credit on your side, but the property is a mess and you get declined. There’s a lot more that goes into to being approved than just income. Items like strata documents and property details are all part of the ingredients in your final approval sauce.

Even with all the documents, you’ll likely be advised by your mortgage broker, they’re only good for 30 days and you could be asked to update them for final approval when the time comes. But unless you’ve lost your job, bought a new expensive boat or run into some type of financial difficulty, updating should be a lot less stressful.

And it’s better to be stressed out about financing at the beginning of the home-buying process, rather then once you’ve got your heart set on a home you might not be approved to buy.

In this video, Sandra and Marina explain how your credit score impacts your ability to buy a home.

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