Answering a Common Question: Mortgage Refi FICO Scores

November 28, 2017

If you use a credit card or bank checking account’s online system, you may have noticed the appearance of a free service: FICO score tracking. You find it as a clickable area with a link title like “Your FICO® score” or just “FICO®.”

For many years, each of the major credit reporting agencies was mandated by law to honor any consumer’s request for a copy of their credit scores—but it was a once-a-year deal. For access to regular updates, you had to pay for a subscription. Particularly for consumers working to improve their credit scores, the paid services became a prudent monthly expense. The arrival of anytime free FICO score reporting eliminated much of that need.

Of course, tracking your FICO score is only useful if you know how the lending institutions will view it—and the answer to that is anything but clear-cut. Not only does each lender has their own confidential requirements, but since there are three separate reporting agencies, consumers have three FICO scores (and they’re rarely the same).

Even so, let’s face it: the single piece of information most everybody wants to know is what FICO score is needed to buy a home? or to refinance a home? Even if the answer is imprecise, it’s human nature.

To satisfy that curiosity, at least one source is willing to report what amounts to an average of approximations: it’s called EllieMae®. Ellie is a company that serves banks, credit unions, and mortgage companies by providing a raft of automated tools—but those are for industry insiders. As a sideline, they also put out a monthly Origination Insight Report with statistics drawn from the home loans processed through their systems—including some that most future home loan applicants will be interested to learn:

  • Average FICO score for conventional mortgage refis closed last month: 732
  • Average score for conventional purchases: 752
  • Average for FHA purchases: 681
  • Average FICO score — all loans: 724
  • Average time needed to close: 43 days

The percentage of mortgage refis grew to 39% of all loans, probably because interest rates decreased “for the sixth straight month” to 4.2%. EllieMae reckons that constitutes “a new 2017 low”—something refi and home loan applicants will be interested to know!

Those bargain basement interest rates continue to create a terrific opportunity for Grand Forks Area real estate. Call us for a no-obligation discussion about how you might take advantage of the current real estate environment!