Starting with Credit: Tips for Renters and Potential Homeowners
written byMark Jackson
One of the dreams that many Americans have is that of owning a home. Due to various cultural influences, owning a home is simply part of living happily in many peoples’ eyes, it’s a sign that you have been successful to some extent. It’s also often said that buying a house is one of the most worthwhile investments a person can make. With that in mind, becoming a homeowner is not right for everyone, and that’s okay. Some may have a job that requires them to move around too often for it to make sense, some simply cannot afford to buy a house, and some do not have good enough credit to get a mortgage loan. There are plenty of advantages to renting a home as opposed to buying one and vice versa. As a result, you might find yourself asking: How do I know if buying a house would be a good investment for me? Would it make more sense to buy a house or keep renting apartments? Where do I even begin?
Start with Credit:
Taking a look at your credit score is a good place to start, especially because knowing your score and working to improve it will be beneficial both to buyers and renters, and home rental is inextricably intertwined with credit. Nowadays, most credit reports factor in your rental history when calculating your credit score, and most (but not all) landlords report rental history to credit reporting agencies. If you had a track record of paying rent on time or even early, your credit score might improve as a result; if you made a habit of paying late, that might hurt your score. These habits will, as a result, affect your ability to apply for a home loan. Having a bad credit score means you have a lower chance of getting approved for a loan. Based on the standards of most mortgage companies, you will need at least a score of 620 in order to qualify for a home loan. If your credit score is below 620, you are not out of luck. That simply means you’ll need to repair your credit before a home loan becomes an option. In its simplest form, that means you’ll need to use your credit and pay the bills on time.
Though many people argue that repairing credit is something that a person can do on their own, repairing your own credit can be a long, difficult, and stressful process. As a result, people also hire credit repair agencies to help them. These agencies offer services such as credit counseling, which is to say making a detailed plan for improving a person’s credit, and researching and filing credit disputes, which is to try and remove a negative impact from a credit report by arguing that it is fraudulent or inaccurate. While people can do these things themselves, credit repair agencies tend to be more experienced with credit repair and will generally be more thorough and efficient than the customer otherwise would be. They can be an effective resource for getting your credit back on track.
What About You?
Another thing to consider before getting into the nitty-gritty of home prices, mortgages, and home maintenance costs is what kind of life you’re looking for. While buying a home might seem attractive, it might not be the right fit for your lifestyle. Since buying a house is a long-term investment, you’ll need to consider where you want to end up in the future. If you see yourself wanting to do a lot of traveling or having a job that might require you to move around, a home probably wouldn’t be a good investment since it not only has a fixed location but needs continuous maintenance that couldn’t get done when you aren’t there. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a sense of stability and you see yourself living in one location for a long time, then it might be time to build your credit and start the search for a house. It’s simply important to remember that it’s about what’s right for you.