How rapid rescore works when applying for a mortgage
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Dear Speaking of Credit,
I would like to get a phone number that I can talk with someone about getting my credit score higher with something called rapid rescore. -- Maribel
I wish you had indicated what you want to do with this higher score, such as buy a home, car or make some home improvements. It would also have been helpful to know if you're aware of any errors on your credit report and just how soon you need to see your score raised. However, since we don't know these things, I'll explain the rapid rescore process, who should use it and when it's most appropriate to do so. Then, if rapid rescore sounds right for you, you'll have a good idea of where to turn next.
The way rapid rescore works is that mortgage brokers and lenders pay a fee to the credit bureaus for a service that quickly corrects borrowers' inaccurate credit bureau information -- old balances, incorrectly reported delinquencies, collections placed in error, etc. -- and, when completed, recalculates the credit scores. Often a resulting higher "rescore" will be the difference between qualifying and not qualifying for a mortgage loan.
While such information updates can easily take 30-60 days to appear on a credit report when completed through conventional means, rapid rescore essentially moves these updates to the front of the line at the credit bureau where they tend to be processed within three to five days. If this sounds too good to be true, the downside is that this service is only available to mortgage brokers and lenders for their real estate loan borrowers -- and they are forbidden from charging to the borrower any part of the going rate of $30-$45 per account, per bureau being updated, which makes many reluctant to offer the program.
With rapid rescore, the consumer typically contacts the creditor, explains that the account is being reported in error and provides any supporting documentation as proof. If the creditor agrees to correct the error, the consumer is provided with a letter indicating the proper reporting of the account. The consumer then provides this letter to the broker/lender to submit to the credit bureau(s) via rapid rescore where, again, the turnaround time is about three to five days.
By comparison, using traditional channels, in which the consumer has convinced a creditor to fix an error, it can take weeks or longer for the correction to make its way to the credit report and score.
Another feature of rapid rescore that can be good or bad, depending on whom you ask, is a score simulator that can anticipate the scoring impact of a particular change to an account before beginning the rapid rescore process. That's the good news. The bad news is that when the simulator is wrong, which it often is, rapid rescore can result in fewer points than expected, or even a lower score than you started out with.
A common misconception about rapid rescoring is that this process can somehow find ways to raise your score to heights not otherwise possible. Anyone considering the use of rapid rescore should clearly understand that the only scoring advantage is the speed with which the score changes. The number of points achieved by a particular change will be the same whether rapid rescore or conventional means are used (all other things being equal).
Another common misconception about rapid rescore is that it's only about the score. According to Leah Tove, mortgage broker with Envoy Mortgage, mortgage companies are always leery of any attempt at credit score manipulation by consumers and tend to be highly suspicious of disputed accounts that, by design, are excluded from scoring until resolved. As a way to artificially inflate scores, some consumers, often with the assistance of credit repair agencies, have been known to abuse the credit dispute process to effectively exclude negative accounts from their scores. Ever since mortgage companies became aware of this tactic, they have refused to make loans to borrowers whose credit reports indicate an unresolved dispute. Says Tove, "We really dread seeing disputes, since we can't do the loan until the dispute is resolved."
In the event of a disputed account threatening to kill a loan, rapid rescore can come to the rescue relatively quickly if the consumer can obtain written confirmation from the creditor that the dispute has been resolved. The broker/lender can then submit a rapid rescore request and in a matter of a few days be able to prove to the mortgage company that the dispute has in fact been resolved.
Another example of mortgage lenders becoming suspicious of artificially inflated scores falls directly onto the rapid rescore process itself. "Post mortgage meltdown," says David Kanis, mortgage broker at Fairway Mortgage, "the practice of doing this [rapid rescore] is not positively viewed by the end banks. When a loan is sold in the secondary markets, if there is a second report pulled, the end banks have the right to request the first report to see what the borrower did to 'manipulate' their credit."
Kanis recommends that "borrowers talk with their mortgage consultant early on when they are even just thinking of aligning themselves for a possible purchase." The broker/lender will pull your credit reports and scores and advise you of any necessary error correction or other concerns to be aware of before actually applying for a mortgage. If this is done early enough in the process you'll have plenty of time to contact any creditors and file disputes that can be resolved prior to submitting the loan application. Or, if you don't have that kind of time and have errors to resolve, perhaps rapid rescore might just be right for you.
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