Does Applying For a Mortgage Affect Your Credit Score?

If you are thinking about applying for a mortgage, you may be wondering: does applying for a mortgage affect your credit score? This post provides you with everything you need to know about how applying for a mortgage affects your credit score.

Does Applying For a Mortgage Affect Your Credit Score?

Yes, applying for a mortgage can lower your credit score because each time you submit a mortgage application, a hard inquiry is added to your credit report when a lender reviews a copy of your credit report. Although a single hard inquiry will slightly lower your credit score, accumulating too many hard inquiries within a short period of time can significantly lower your credit score.

That said, when shopping for a mortgage, credit scoring models treat hard inquiries made within a 14 to 45 day period while shopping for a mortgage as a single hard inquiry.

So, to avoid multiple hard inquiries from negatively affecting your credit score, you should do your mortgage shopping within a 14 day period to ensure that all mortgage-related hard inquiries count as only a single hard inquiry.

Hard inquiries are not negative marks, but they can lower your credit score. A single had inquiry can lower your credit score by 3 to 5 points, but multiple hard inquiries within a short period of time can significantly lower your credit score because they should lenders that you’re seeking too much new credit within a short period of time, which can be indicative of financial troubles.

Hard inquiries affect your credit score because credit scoring models take into account the number of hard inquiries you have on your credit report. As a rule of thumb, you should have no more than 2 to 3 hard inquiries on your credit report. Anything more and you could see a drop in your credit score.

Even though several hard inquiries may appear on your credit report when shopping for a mortgage, the credit scoring models will consider them as a single hard inquiry when calculating your credit score.

That said, when applying for a mortgage, it’s okay to rack up several hard inquiries so long as you make them within a 14-day window so that all hard inquiries gained as a result of shopping for a mortgage count as a single hard inquiry.

Newer credit scoring models provide a 45-day window, but stay on the safe side and conduct your mortgage shopping within the 14-day window just in case your lender relies on older credit scoring models that use the 14-day window.

That said, even if takes you longer than 14 to 45 days to look for the best mortgage, the temporary impact on your credit score may be well worth the savings you’ll gain by continuing to shop for the mortgage with the best terms and interest rate.

How Long Do Hard Inquiries Remain On Your Credit Report For?

A hard inquiry is placed on your credit report when a lender reviews a copy of your credit report after you’ve applied for a credit card, loan, or mortgage. Can cause a small drop in your credit score, but that drop is temporary in nature. In fact, hard inquiries only remain on your credit report for 2 years from the date your lender reviews a copy of your credit report. After the 2 year period, the hard inquiry will be automatically removed from your credit report. That said, experts agree that the effect that a hard inquiry has on your credit score only lasts for 12 months. After 12 months, a hard inquiry will no longer affect your credit score. After 2 years, it will be automatically removed from your credit report permanently.

Consider Mortgage Prequalification To Avoid Hard Inquiries

If you want to avoid having any hard inquiries added to your credit report, you should consider pre-qualifying for a mortgage. According to Bank of America, mortgage prequalification is an early step in the process of buying a home. To perform a prequalification, you must provide your lender with basic information about yourself and your financial situation.

The lender then performs a soft pull of your credit report to review your credit report. Soft pulls, more appropriately known as soft credit checks do not affect your credit score as do hard inquiries. So, if you want to avoid having hard inquiries added to your credit report, you can opt for mortgage prequalification instead.

Mortgage prequalification should provide you with very helpful information, such as whether you’re likely to qualify for a mortgage, the types of mortgages you qualify for, and the maximum amount of money that the lender will allow you to borrow.

If you find that the mortgage terms, interest rate, and the amount you’re allowed to borrow work for you, you can go ahead and submit a full mortgage application. When you submit the full application, only then will a hard inquiry be placed on your credit report.

Also, prequalification helps you narrow down your home search. For example, if you only pre-qualify for a $400,000 mortgage, you’ll know that you shouldn’t be looking at $700,000 homes.

So, if you’re thinking about buying a home and you do not want too many hard inquiries being added to your credit report, you should definitely consider mortgage prequalification before submitting full fledged mortgage applications that will undoubtedly result in hard inquiries being placed on your credit report as lenders review your credit report.

Does a Mortgage Affect Your Credit Score?

Having a mortgage can greatly affect your credit score. If you make your mortgage on time, you can build excellent credit. This is so because your payment history makes up 35% of your credit score. So, making timely payments on your mortgage will boost your credit score.

Additionally, opening a mortgage account can improve your credit mix. Your credit mix makes up 10% of your credit score, and it rewards persons who have a diverse mix of credit accounts with a higher credit score. Opening a variety of different accounts, such as credit cards, car loans, mortgages, and student loans will increase the diversity of your accounts, contributing to a higher credit score.

That said, although a mortgage can increase your credit score in the long run, when you first apply for a mortgage, you could see a small but temporary drop in your credit score. This small drop is caused by the hard inquiry that is placed on your credit report when a lender reviews a copy of your credit report.

That said, the impact that a hard inquiry has on your credit report is temporary. In fact, after 12 months, a hard inquiry will no longer affect your credit score, and it will be removed after 2 years from the date it was added to your credit report.

If you’ve shopped around for a mortgage, racking up multiple hard inquiries. The hard inquiries that are added to your credit report while you shop for a mortgage will all be counted as a single inquiry when calculating your credit score. That said, for them to be counted as a single hard inquiry the inquiries must be made within a 14 to 45-day window.

What Are Some Things That You Should and Should Not Do When You Are Trying To Qualify For a Mortgage?

Here are some things that you should and should not do when you foresee that you are going to apply for a mortgage:

1. Continue Making Your Credit Card and Loan Payments On Time

When applying for a mortgage, you should make sure to continue making your credit card and loan payments on time as missing even a single payment can cause significant damage to your credit. Also, having a recent late payment on your credit report will make it difficult for you to qualify for a mortgage with reasonable terms. So, make sure to continue making all of your payments on time.

2. Don’t Apply For New Credit Cards and Loans

If you know that you will be applying for a mortgage in the foreseeable future, you should refrain from applying for new credit cards or loans because it could show that you’re seeking new credit, which is not good when applying for a mortgage. Also, applying for a credit card or loan could lower your credit score because of the hard inquiry that’s added to your credit report when a lender reviews a copy of your credit report. So, don’t apply for new credit cards or loans for the best chances of being approved and to qualify for good terms and interest rate.

3. Keep Old Accounts in Good Standing Open

If you have an old credit card that is in good standing, you should not close such an account prior to applying for a mortgage. This is so because old accounts can actually improve your credit score because the credit scoring models take into account your account age. The older your accounts, the better your credit score will be. Also, oftentimes, closing a credit card could actually lower your credit score. So, to avoid this, do not close any accounts prior to being approved for a mortgage.

4. Reduce Your Credit Card Balances

If you want to boost your credit score prior to applying for a mortgage, you should consider paying down your credit card balance. Paying down your credit card balances can significantly improve your credit score especially if you’re using too much of your available credit. Your credit utilization makes up 30% of your credit score, so the more debt you have on your credit cards, the lower your credit score will be. So, pay down your credit card balances to improve your credit score prior to applying for a mortgage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Do mortgage applications affect your credit score?

Yes, mortgage applications can affect your credit score. In fact they can lower your credit score by 10 to 40 points, depending on how many applications you submit. On average, it takes approximately 12 months for your credit score to recover after submitting mortgage applications.

2. How much does your credit score drop when applying for a mortgage?

Your credit score can drop by 10 to 40 points when applying for a mortgage. That said, most applicants saw an average drop of 15 points.

3. Does mortgage prequalification affect your credit score?

No, mortgage prequalification does not affect your credit score so long as your lender conducts a soft credit check. A soft credit check does not impact your credit score and it’s commonly used for performing mortgage prequalification. That said, ask your lender whether their prequalification results in a soft inquiry or hard inquiry.

4. When should you apply for a mortgage to buy a home?

You should apply for a mortgage to buy a home when you have the necessary funds to place as a downpayment for your new home.