When tenants are asked why they don't just buy a home, the answers often include, "my credit is bad." Improving your credit is not as hard as most people believe but it does take some action. Credit is established by a payment history. It is important to know what kind of payments are used to create a credit score. Some payments are not reported to the credit bureaus, but can be used as "non-traditional" forms of credit. These payments include cell phone, utilities and rent payments. If you have no credit score, these "non-traditional" payments can be used to prove your credit worthiness and are acceptable for certain home loan products. Keeping good records of these payments are important and can be the proof you need to qualify for financing.
In the case of having poor credit due to slow payments on past loans such as a car payment or bills that were turned in for collection or repossession, that can still be overcome. The first step comes from learning what shows up on your credit report by having a bank pull a report and is willing to show you the results. If there are outstanding balances or collections, they must be addressed. It is possible that the creditors are willing to negotiate a payoff that is less than the actual amount you owe. Using a tax refund, for example, to pay off old debt would be a smart way to use those "extra dollars." A phone call to the creditor requesting a discount, in most cases, will result in a payoff that may be affordable and will be a step in improving your credit score. In any case, clearing any bad history is critical before any "good credit" can be obtained.
If credit report shows only limited use of credit and the score is low, there is another way to correct this problem. Of course, the answer is to obtain recent payment history to show you now have the ability and willingness to make timely payments. One way to make this happen is to go to a bank or credit union and tell them what you are trying to do. Request a small loan of $1,000 or whatever the lender's minimum loan is. Use the loan proceeds to open a savings account or Certificate of Deposit to be held by the bank as security for the loan. The bank is 100% guaranteed that the loan will be repaid since they are holding the money to apply to the loan if you don't make the payments. Once the loan is in place, be sure to make timely payments until the loan is paid in full. The bank will then release the hold on the funds in your savings account. You will have accomplished two things: you improved your credit score, and you have money in the bank! Plus, the bank is now more willing to consider you as a risk for future loans. Building credit, or repairing credit is not an overnight thing, but is vital to making the leap from paying off someone else's mortgage to paying off your own.
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