How paying down credit cards faster will get you in a new home


The next time you receive a monthly credit card statement, take a look at the minimum payment due – and think about aiming higher. This article from Daniel Goldstein of MarketWatch explains why – especially if you’re thinking about purchasing a new home.

Paying the minimum balance only on your credit cards, even if it’s on time, may not be enough anymore to get the best home loans.

That’s because starting in June, Fannie Mae, one of the biggest government-sponsored buyers of mortgages, says when it comes to buying home loans it will now favor borrowers who are making efforts to pay down their credit cards, rather than just pay the monthly minimums. Fannie Mae’s counterpart, Freddie Mac may also follow suit.

“It’s not a bad thing to have credit cards, but you have to use them wisely,” said Mindy Armstrong, product manager for Fannie Mae. The new moves would make it easier for borrowers who might be on the cusp of approval for their loan to be bought by the agency to get an OK, she said. “This trended data approach could get them into the approval bucket,” Armstrong said.

The agency said last October that with the cooperation of two of the biggest credit reporting agencies, TransUnion and Equifax, it will begin looking at credit card data going back as far as two years (24 months) beginning on June 25.

The so-called trended data, which includes amount of payments made and total amounts remaining on the balance, will only include revolving credit card accounts, but not other consumer debt payments, such as mortgage loans or student loans. The trended credit data that will be available to lenders will include the minimum payment due, the actual payment amount, and the balance each month.

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