Does Comparing Loans Affect My Credit Score?

loans and credit score

When it comes to shopping for the right loan, it makes sense that you’d want to do your research in order to score the best rate possible. And the Internet has made it easier than ever to do so. But before you start comparing loans, it’s important to understand the effect this could have on your credit.

And the answer isn’t as clear-cut as you might think.

Credit inquiries

Whether or not comparing loans will affect your credit score depends on whether a hard or soft inquiry is required.

Soft inquiries happen when a business pulls your basic credit information without your directly applying for anything — for instance, when credit card companies check to see if you prequalify for a card. Soft credit checks have no impact on your credit report.

Hard credit inquiries come whenever you directly apply for a loan or new line of credit, such as a mortgage, car loan, or new credit card. The lender pulls your complete credit report to determine whether you’re a safe borrowing candidate.

Since you took the steps to apply, hard inquiries are considered “authorized,” and they do end up on your credit report and affect your credit score. Luckily, if your credit is otherwise in good standing, the effect is fairly minimal; your credit score will only drop by a few points, and it usually bounces back from the hit within six months. (However, the effect may be more impactful if your credit isn’t as strong.)

When credit checks are required

Hard inquiries may not be required until you’re further into the loan process. Lenders can get an idea of what interest rate you’d qualify for by performing soft inquiries using basic information including your name and annual income. So if you’re shopping around, this is the best way to look at all of your options.

However, to get an official rate quote, you will have to directly apply for the loan, which will result in a hard inquiry.

But here’s the good news: if you submit multiple applications for the same type of loan (say, a car loan) over a short period of time (usually between 14 and 45 days), it’s not considered risky behavior because it’s evident to the credit bureaus that you’re simply looking for the best deal. As such, credit bureaus will often count these multiple applications as a single hard inquiry.

(Note: This isn’t the case for credit cards. Submitting multiple credit card applications over a short period could not only bring down your credit score, it could also make you look like a risky borrowing candidate to lenders.)

How to shop for loans

In order to avoid damaging your credit as you shop for loans, make sure you’re aware whether your credit is being submitted for a hard or soft inquiry. Many websites will let you know, but if you’re not sure, call the company’s customer service to ask.

Also, make sure you’re protecting your privacy. A secure Web page will begin with “https,” so if you’re entering your social security number or any other sensitive personal information, make sure to double-check for that protocol.

If you’re having trouble getting approved for a loan, it could be that you need to fix your credit. For credit help, consider speaking with a credit repair expert. Lexington Law offers the legal expertise to help you repair your credit and ensure that your credit report remains fair and accurate.

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Source: lexingtonlaw.com

Top 3 Scams to Avoid This Holiday Season

Holiday Scams

‘Tis the season — the season for scams.

With more holiday shopping taking place online each year, more online scams are popping up than ever before.

Victims of online scams are at risk of fraud, identity theft, and serious harm to their credit. The FBI reported that total loss from cybercrime in 2016 exceeded $1.3 billion.

That’s why each year, everyone from the FBI to politicians to the Better Business Bureau issues warnings for consumers be on high alert for such scams.

Here are some of the most common ones to avoid this holiday season:

  1. Email and social media scams

You’re probably getting bombarded by marketing emails right now, but be careful what you click. Scam emails may well sneak into the bunch. Some emails will try to direct you back to scammy websites, which could then try to trick you into buying fake products from them in order to give up your banking information.

Another common email scam involves scammers masquerading as a tracking service like UPS or FedEx. They send you phony information about your “recent orders” and ask you to download an attachment or click a phishing link. These could contain malware that scammers use hack into your personal data.

If you’re unsure if a tracking email is a scam, call the company’s customer service line — but only use the number located on its actual website, not one you found in the email.

Also, be cautious of social media promotions or contests. Scammers will sometimes use this method to get you to fill in fake surveys, and then steal your personal information.

  1. Fake charities

Charitable donations tend to spike around the holidays each year. Unfortunately, so do the scams looking to take advantage of the spirit of giving. Fake charities are so common that they regularly appear on the IRS’s annual list of “Dirty Dozen” scams.

Fake charities often design themselves after legitimate organizations, using similar names and page layouts to fool you. You can check if an organization is legitimate on the IRS website. Don’t give out personal information to anyone claiming to represent a charity and solicit donations. And when you do make donations, use a credit card or check rather than cash or wire transfer. They’re easier to recover if the charity ends up being bogus.

  1. Scam job postings

Our spending tends to increase over the holidays, so the idea of making a little extra pocket money may be appealing. But be cautious. Some seasonal employment is completely legitimate, but some postings are created by scam artists who are also trying to get a little extra pocket money — yours.

If a prospective “employer” expects you to spend any cash up front, whether on job training, a start-up kit, or your own inventory — beware. Jobs are supposed to pay you, not the other way around.

If you do become the victim of identity theft or fraud as a result of scammers this holiday season, and your credit takes a hit as a result, Lexington Law can help you with credit disputes and credit restoration. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

Carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

The LifeLock Security Risk and Why You Should Care

LifeLock Security Risk

In an age where data breaches are common, another company’s data has been exposed. It may come as a shock, but Lifelock, the company that millions of consumers turn to in order to protect their identities, has holes in its security that could potentially lead to more phishing scams and identity theft.

Lifelock’s site security hasn’t updated since 2015, which is a huge issue since technology is always changing making it easy for hackers to access sensitive information such as millions of users’ email addresses.

The holes in Lifelock’s security were discovered by security expert and blogger Brian Krebs. He found a vulnerability on the site that allows anyone to index millions of customer accounts on their web browsers when they unsubscribe from Lifelock’s marketing emails. This makes users vulnerable to any identity thieves out there who might be looking for easy prey. This is a huge disappointment for consumers, who seem to be facing the never-ending nightmare of the potential for identity theft.

Aside from causing headaches and costing lots of money, identity theft can destroy your credit. So where do you turn to for help when you trust a company to protect your sensitive information and they fail you? Luckily, there are trustworthy companies out there that can help you who haven’t been breached, and do everything they can to protect your sensitive information.

Who Can I Trust to Protect My Sensitive Information?

Lexington Law Firm offers credit repair services, but we also offer identity theft protection services. And we make every effort to protect our users’ data, because we understand how important it is. Lexington Law Firm is PCI-DSS and EI3PA compliant. PCI-DSS means that we are constantly maintaining and building a secure network, protecting card-holder data, maintaining a Vulnerability Management Program, implementing Strong Access Control Measures, monitoring and testing networks, and maintaining an Information Security Policy.

The EI3PA is Experian’s Independent Third Party Assessment. This means that we use Multi-Factor Authentication and run vulnerability scans on a quarterly basis, keeping us updated on any new security risks. This means that our users’ data is always secure. The EI3PA is performed by a third-party PCI Qualified Security Assessor. We work with theses third parties to make sure everything is secure.

Lexington Law Firm also has firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, file integrity monitoring, and physical access controls. Plus, we encrypt all sensitive client data. Lexington Law will never sell your sensitive data to any other companies and takes users’ security very seriously. Lexington Law will not ask for any sensitive information via text message or email either.

How Else Can Lexington Law Help Me?

On top of all of that, our credit repair services have helped consumers that have already been affected by identity theft. We have a dedicated team of attorneys and paralegals that will fight for your right to a fair and accurate credit report. We’ve seen removals of negative information on credit reports that was a result of identity theft.

Our clients are also covered under an identity theft insurance policy for as long as they use our services. Not only that, but some of our products include credit monitoring and protection, as well as identity theft restoration. These products allow users to receive alerts anytime there are changes to their accounts – including those that don’t show up on credit reports, such as checking accounts and savings accounts. If you’re looking for a company you can trust to protect your sensitive information, or are in need of credit repair from identity theft, call us today for your free credit consultation.

How Can I Protect My Identity?

Although the experts at Lexington Law are happy to help you with protecting your identity, there are steps that you can also take to protect yourself as well. Here are some precautions you can take:

  • Change your passwords. The longer and more complex the better.
  • Check your credit reports regularly. Doing so will allow you to keep track of what accounts you have and will help you spot fraudulent ones.
  • Keep important documents such as your social security card someplace safe.

Be careful who you provide sensitive information to – if you’re not sure who you’re speaking with, either find a brick and mortar location you can go to or find the correct phone number for the company you’re speaking with on the BBB’s website to call back

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

Lexington Law vs. Other Credit Repair Companies What Sets Us Apart

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

Healthy credit is an essential bargaining tool that many Americans live without. According to Money-zine.com, over 40 percent of the population’s credit scores dip below 700. When you are focused on finding reputable credit repair services, how do you know who to trust?

Good credit can open doors and save you money. Despite these basic facts, many people choose to adopt the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality when it comes to financial issues. Don’t join the group by waiting to get serious about credit repair. Improving your score could save you thousands in mortgage interest, car payments, credit card debt, and more. Consider Lexington Law as an advocate to help you navigate the road ahead. We aren’t your average credit repair law firm. During 20 years of service, we have helped over a half-million clients find better credit. Aside from our demonstrated results, client comfort and satisfaction is our top priority. We:

1. Invest in your confidence. You don’t have to pay up-front to see our credit repair services at work. We offer a free, no obligation consultation where our qualified staff will help you understand:
o The positives and negatives of your credit report
o The components of credit scoring
o The importance of good credit
o Ways to improve your score in everyday life
Moreover, clients engage our service for discrete monthly servicing periods and pay only for services previously (and completely) delivered. The bottom line: we want you to feel confident in your credit repair decisions. We want our skills to speak for themselves.

2. Design solutions to fit your needs. Different clients have different needs, and we work to fill them. Our three-tiered levels of service are designed to address your issues and suit your budget. Each level includes free support and anytime cancellation. Choose from:

o Lexington Regular—This option covers credit repair basics, including credit report consultation and credit bureau-directed investigations, challenges, and disputes as applicable.
o Concord Standard—Clients enrolled in this level enjoy everything provided in the Lexington Regular service but also benefit from the firm’s legal interventions directed to creditors and others who report information to the credit bureaus.
o Concord Premier—Lexington’s most popular and comprehensive level affords everything available in the Lexington Regular and Concord Standard services as well as TransUnion Credit Monitoring, monthly credit score improvement analyses, ReportWatch™ comparative alerts, and InquiryAssist™ for problematic credit report inquiries that can also damage your credit scores.

3. Don’t make empty promises. While other credit repair companies may offer guaranteed results, we follow the letter of the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA), which prohibits such claims. In the world of credit repair, there are no guarantees. What we can promise is exemplary service, legal and fair billing practices, and accurate representation. Our track record speaks for itself. Visit us at www.lexingtonlaw.com to learn more about our services.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

The Best Apps on the Market to Learn About Your Credit

rebuilding credit

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

Smartphones have become an absolutely critical part of our lives, allowing us to keep in touch with our friends and family and stay on top of important information such as our finances, virtually 24 hours a day.

If you’re someone who likes to keep an eye on your credit situation while you’re out shopping, traveling, or conducting business, it’s especially convenient to be able to get an instantaneous glimpse of your credit score or other pertinent credit-related data. Here’s an overview of some of the most popular apps available to allow you to be a mobile master of your credit situation. These can be useful to have on hand while working on the paperwork for a car loan or another major purchase.

Credit Karma

Acclaimed by Apple as one of the 10 best apps of 2016, Credit Karma’s redesigned mobile tool offers much of the versatility of the company’s popular credit monitoring website. Like the online service itself, the app is free to use, though its resources will only provide data from TransUnion credit reports — users of the full website are also able to compare their Equifax reports, one of the other three commercial credit bureaus. Information is updated on a weekly basis, and users are allowed as many inquiries as they wish.

Credit Karma’s app offers the ability to monitor those scores and recent activity reports, and allows users to receive alerts about changes to their report, as well as use a built-in feature to immediately submit any disputes to TransUnion. The Credit Karma app also includes educational tips and tools, as well as “approval odds” to suggest loans or credit cards users might access more easily, based on their scores.

LexingtonLaw.com

For those interested in taking a more proactive approach to their credit rating, Lexington Law provides a mobile version of its acclaimed credit monitoring and credit repair services, designed to allow clients to monitor the progress of their credit repair case, in real time.

As part of Lexington Law’s monthly package, clients have the ability to instantly access their FICO score and check for any changes, as well as getting immediate feedback on current challenges to incorrect credit data with all three credit bureaus — and see what items have been removed, and when. Lexington Law’s app also provides a comprehensive overview of current credit reports, including recent purchases and any new inquiries from creditors or lenders.

myFICO mobile

While most free-to-use credit monitoring services rely on variants of the major credit bureau’s scores, only myFICO.com’s mobile app can provide instant access to a sophisticated blending of all three plus a user’s genuine FICO scores — including the recently released FICO Score 9. The app is part of myFICO.com’s paid services, which start at $29.95 per month for quarterly updates of up to 28 different FICO scores used by major retailers and lenders.

The app allows the ability to historically track Score 8 data from all three bureaus and monitor credit reports, as well as get updates and even spot identity theft threats.

Learn more about our credit repair company, and carry on the conversation to our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

What is an Accurate Credit Listing?

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

According to the FTC website “No one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from a credit report. The law allows you to ask for an investigation of information in your file that you dispute as inaccurate or incomplete.”

This is a message that is seemingly black and white on the surface. In fact, many critics of credit repair and credit repair law firms such as Lexington Law will try to use this message to imply that there is little that can be done about bad credit, that the only recourse for people with a bad credit score is to wait for their credit to improve on its own, and that it is a futile attempt and a waste of money to work with any credit repair company.

When you take time to research the credit reporting system and your rights to dispute the questionable negative information in your credit reports, you will find that there is much more ambiguity in the FTC quote than critics of credit repair would have you believe.

This primarily has to do with the concept of accurate vs. inaccurate when it comes to the items listed in your credit reports. When we typically think of these terms, we think of them according to the dictionary definitions. In the credit reporting world, however, these two words do not mean what people think they do. While they are not wholly redefined, the definitions of these two words as they are used in the Fair Credit Reporting Act are altered when they are applied to your credit reports.

When trying to define what is accurate when dealing with the items listed in your credit reports, it is helpful to identify those things that are not accurate.

To start with, there are items that are patently inaccurate or untimely. These are listings on your credit reports that belong to another person, are duplicate entries, are the result of identity theft, have been listed longer than 7 years, etc. Because of the nature of the credit reporting system, it is surprisingly common for these types of items to end up on your credit reports.

For many people, this is the only type of negative item they believe can be disputed and removed from a credit report. The truth is there are a number of other classifications of negative items on your credit reports that you have the right to dispute.

Along with disputing negative items that are patently inaccurate or untimely, you also have the right to dispute any item you feel is misleading, incomplete, ambiguous, unverifiable, biased or unclear (“questionable”). To get a better idea of what types of negative items fall into these categories, consider the following real life account from the book “Credit Revolution: Path of the Smart Consumer“:

Mr. Telford* subscribed to the Ditech mortgage payment service, which was offered to him when he initiated his mortgage, and which breaks his monthly mortgage payment into two semi-monthly payments. A slight change in the property taxes on the property caused an increase in the amount owed each month. This change was never communicated to the semi-monthly mortgage payment service. Therefore, each month, Mr. Telford was unknowingly paying slightly less than his full mortgage amount. He did not receive any notices reflecting this shortfall. Even though Mr. Telford was making nearly the complete mortgage payment through the automated service, his credit report showed that he wasn’t making his payment at all, due to the fact that the amount paid was insufficient. When Mr. Telford went to purchase a new home, he was surprised to discover that his credit report included many non-payments of his previous mortgage.

*Name has been changed

In this case, all of the negative listings on Mr. Telford’s credit reports are accurate when using the dictionary definition of the word because the listings correspond to something that actually happened. Mr. Telford was not making full payments on his mortgage on time. But fortunately for Mr. Telford, the legal interpretation of what is accurate and inaccurate on consumer credit reports is not as cut and dried.

Mr. Telford disputed the questionable negative items listed on his credit reports because he believed they were misleading. The negative items in his credit reports showed that he missed making mortgage payments when in fact he had completely complied with the terms of his loan agreement. Mr. Telford was still a responsible consumer although when he tried to purchase a new home, his credit score mislead lenders into thinking that he was a high credit risk.

Situations like this are not at all uncommon and are the reason why you are able to dispute any of the questionable negative items on your credit reports. So when you hear that no one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from a credit report, remember that when it comes to your credit reports, accurate has a much different meaning that most people believe.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

I Didn’t Open All of These Accounts on My Credit Report. What Should I Do?

Free Credit Report Summary - Payment History

See your payment history?

Payment history is the record of when—and if—you pay your bills. And, it’s one of the main things that creditors look at. Payment history makes up 35% of your credit score—the biggest part. Your report card shows your grade, total late payments and more. See your payment history now »

See How You’re Using Available Credit

How you use credit affects your credit score. Use too much and your score goes down. Your credit utilization ratio, or how much of your credit limit you use, makes up 30% of your credit score. Your credit report card shows your ratio, credit card debt, credit limit and how different factors affect your score. Get your debt usage now »

Free Credit Report Summary - Debt Utilization Free Credit Report Summary - Number of Inquiries

Take a Peek at Your Credit’s Age

Credit age, aka credit history, is the age of your oldest account, not how long you’ve used credit. Creditors want older credit histories. And older accounts are better for your score. Credit age makes up 15% of your score. See your credit history and the ages of the oldest and newest account on your credit report card. Know your credit age now »

See Your Account Mix

Revolving credit, installment loans and the mix of the two—student loans, auto loans, mortgages, etc.—make up 10% of your credit score. A good mix shows creditors you can handle different types of debts. See how many revolving credit accounts and loans you have in your free credit report summary. Check your account mix »

Free Credit Report Summary - Age of Accounts Free Credit Report Summary - Account Mix

Know How Many Inquiries You Have

Every time you apply for a new credit card or loan, it can show up as a hard inquiry on your credit report. That’s true even for denied credit. And hard inquiries make up 10% of your score and can cause it to drop. Applying for credit too frequently is a red flag to creditors. When was your last inquiry? See how many inquiries you have and how long you’ve had them on your report card. Check your inquiries now »

See Why—and How—Your Score Changed

If you want the details of why your score changed, it’s all there. Simply select “See details” for “Why did my score change” to see the historical view of your credit score—and what’s changed it.

Free Credit Report Summary - Age of Accounts

Source: credit.com

How to Find All Your Debts: 4 Tips

Paying off your debts is a critical part of a healthy credit profile. Here’s what you need to know about how to find your debts.

It’s uncomfortable to admit, but it’s entirely possible that you have debts you didn’t even know about. Whether mail went missing or communication about medical debt got mixed up, it’s possible an account with your name on it is languishing somewhere in collections. Get some tips to find out all your debts so you can make educated decisions about how to clean up your credit history.


How to Find All Your Debts

Even if you keep meticulous records, it’s possible for some debts to have fallen through the cracks. And perhaps you know you owe a debt, but it’s been passed around between collection agencies so many times you’ve forgotten who currently owns the debt. Here’s how to find out which collection agency you owe or uncover debts you don’t know about.

1. Check Your Credit Reports

Our first tip for finding your hidden debts is to turn to your credit report. While not every debt is reported, many are. And if you’re in collections or have owed the debt for a while, chances are someone has placed a negative item on at least one of your credit reports.

The trick here is getting copies of all three of your credit reports from the major bureaus. Not all creditors report to all three, so TransUnion, for example, could have a detail that Equifax and Experian do not—and vice versa.

You can get one free copy of your credit report from each agency every year at AnnualCreditReport.com. (They’re available weekly for a limited time due to COVID-19.) But for those who really want to get a handle on who they owe and what’s on their report, a service such as ExtraCredit is a good choice.

ExtraCredit lets you see your credit reports from all three bureaus—anytime. The reports are pulled monthly. It also gives you regular updates on 28 of your FICO® scores, so you have a clear picture of what your credit history looks like to lenders. Plus, you can get rewards and offers for valuable credit services, including credit monitoring and credit cards.

2. Go Through Old and New Mail

Who among us hasn’t picked up the mail, only to put it in a stack by the front door and leave it there to languish for months? Life gets busy, and it can be tempting to slide unopened envelopes into a bin or drawer and forget about them. But mail can back up before you realize it, and you might miss a notice of a bill or debt.

Take some time to gather all the mail you have. Open it and sort it, carefully looking to see whether you need to take action on something or if you might owe someone money. Keep a notebook or computer nearby so you can make a list.

3. Listen to All Those Old Voicemails

Voicemail can back up just like snail mail. Many people never actually check their voicemail, assuming those who need them will call them back or text them.

Legitimate creditors and collections agencies should leave a voicemail, including contact information. They’ll also usually show up on your caller ID. 

Clear out your old voicemail, listening to each one and making notes about it. Compare that information with the notes you got from your mail and what’s on your credit report to compile a master list of debt you might owe. Keep an ear open for potential debt collection scammers and do your research before following up with anyone.

4. Contact Creditors You Think You Owe

In some cases, you know you owe someone, but it’s been a while. You can contact the last creditor you remember and find out if they still own the debt or if they wrote it off and sold it to a collection agency. They should be able to confirm your debt and give you the name and contact information for the agency that they sold the debt to, if applicable.

What to Do After You Find Your Debt

Once you go through a debt finder process and figure out who you owe money to, you have some decisions to make. Here are three tips for dealing with debt once you find it.

1. Decide Whether You Can—or Will—Pay

You might rush to pay off old debts thinking it will boost your credit, but that may not happen. Yes, the debt should then be marked as paid on your credit report. But the damage from the late payments and collection accounts could still linger.

So, you need to consider seriously how you can and will deal with old debt. If you simply can’t afford to pay, talk to a legal professional about your options, rights, and what consequences could come from paying or not paying old debt. For example, if you start making payments, the statute of limitations could restart and leave you at risk of lawsuits and legal collection activity much longer.

2. Consider Credit Repair Services

One result of digging through credit reports and chasing down old debt can be finding errors or collections you don’t actually owe. If you find inaccurate information on your credit reports, you might consider working with a credit repair service.

Credit repair services work on your behalf to dispute inaccurate information with the credit bureaus. You can actually do credit repair yourself, but if you don’t have time or just know you aren’t going to follow up, you might get more value by paying professionals to handle it for you.

3. Keep Up with Credit Reports and Debts in the Future

Finally, once you do the work to find your debt and clean it up, keep up with your credit reports in the future. While every single debt may not appear on your credit report—or appear right away—staying on top of your credit report ensures you’re aware of most of them. ExtraCredit gives you the access to your accounts that you need to keep track of your debts and your credit score.

Bonus Tip: Once you’ve found all your debts, use a debt management app like Tally to keep track of them moving forward so you’ll never have to wonder about them again.

TL;DR: ExtraCredit Could Help You Identify and Manage Your Debts

If you’ve lost track of your debts and what you owe to who, it can take some work and time to track everything down. But once you do, stay ahead of these things with help from ExtraCredit.


Source: credit.com

How Unemployment Can Affect Your Plans To Buy a Home—Now and Later

The coronavirus pandemic has led to record-high unemployment rates not seen since the Great Depression. And this is particularly worrisome for would-be home buyers.

If you were among the 23.1 million Americans who were laid off or furloughed, you might be worried about your financial future. And if you were hoping to buy a house—either now or in the next few years—you might also wonder how your current jobless status might affect those plans.

While the situation might seem dire, unemployment does not mean that home-buying plans have to be put on hold for long. Here’s how to navigate a period of unemployment so that it doesn’t derail your hopes to buy a home.

Can you buy a home if you’re unemployed?

For starters: If you lose your job while in the midst of home shopping or after you’ve even made an offer, you might have to put the purchase on hold.

The reason: Given your reduced income, the odds of lenders loaning you money for a property purchase are slim, unless your spouse or partner has a sizable income that can carry the mortgage alone.

And even if you’re getting unemployment checks every week, that money is considered temporary income, so it can’t be used to qualify for a mortgage, says Jackie Boies, senior director of housing and bankruptcy services at Money Management International, a nonprofit providing financial education and counseling.

In short, “unemployment could have an effect on your ability to purchase a home in the short term,” Boies says.

But the good news is that once you find a new job, you can likely resume home shopping without trouble, Boies adds. “Unemployment shouldn’t have a long-term effect on being able to buy a home.”

How long after unemployment can you buy a home?

But even once you do find a new job, that doesn’t mean you can easily buy a house just yet. That’s because lenders like to see a steady history of employment before loaning someone money.

“Regular employment must be reestablished as stable, reliable, and dependable,” says Karma Herzfeld, mortgage loan originator at Motto Mortgage Alliance in Little Rock, AR.

So how long is enough? Lenders typically require borrowers to have six months of employment at their current job, and two years of continuous employment. Breaks in employment older than two years shouldn’t affect getting a mortgage.

How unemployment affects your credit score

While unemployment doesn’t jeopardize future home-buying hopes per se, financial experts warn that what can put those plans at risk is how you handle your finances while jobless. Unemployment, after all, can stress your budget in ways that can damage your credit history and credit score.

Lenders check your credit score to assess how well you’ve managed past debts. Scores between 650 and 700 range from fair to good; scores below 650 are considered subpar, which could limit which lenders are willing to loan you money for a house. (You can check your score for free on sites like Credit Karma.)

Credit scores can be damaged in a variety of ways during unemployment. For one, if you get behind on paying bills, this will put some blemishes on your credit history and drag your score down.

Unemployment can also lower your credit score by negatively affecting your debt-to-income ratio, a calculation used by mortgage lenders to compare how much you make against how much you owe.

If you’re unemployed, you may face a double whammy as your income is lower and you’re charging more to your credit cards, thus increasing your debt. Both moves can negatively affect your debt-to-income ratio, which may make lenders leery of loaning you money.

“Any factor that affects income or debt may affect the debt-to-income ratio,” Herzfeld explains.

In sum, hopeful home buyers should be careful not to take on too much debt, even while unemployed. You need to preserve cash as best you can.

“I recommend, if on unemployment, [you] cut back on all discretionary spending and make every effort to keep bills current so that the credit score may not get negatively impacted,” Herzfeld says.

Debt-to-income ratio will likely rebalance once you return to work, as long as you haven’t racked up too much debt during the period of unemployment, Boies says.

How to handle your finances while unemployed

“My recommendation is to always try as best as you can to pay at least the minimum required payment on all monthly debt obligations, otherwise credit may be negatively affected,” Herzfeld says.

Boies suggests reaching out to landlords, credit card companies, utilities, auto lenders, and others to find out what options you have, such as payment plans, deferments, or forbearance. You might also be able to reduce some bills, such as insurance, by reviewing your policy.

“Don’t think that if you can’t pay that bill, you just can’t do anything about it,” Boies says. “You need to reach out to see what options they have available to you.”

How to bounce back from unemployment

If your credit score is negatively affected while you’re unemployed, it’s not the end of the world—but it will take time to repair.

Six months to a year or more of positive credit rebuilding could get you on track to buy a home, Herzfeld says.

“The sooner past-due debts can be remedied, the sooner the score may begin to improve,” she says.

For more smart financial news and advice, head over to MarketWatch.

Source: realtor.com