How do credit scores work?
1. Paying on time: This represents 35 percent of your score. Payment history is the biggest factor for determining your score. This category includes the number and severity of any late payments. Payments of 120 days or more are the worst. The more credit problems you have, the lower the score.
2. Amount and type of debt: These make up 30 percent. This includes the total amount you owe, the amount you owe by account type such as revolving, installment or mortgage, the number of accounts on which you're carrying a balance and how much of the credit lines you have drawn down. Using your entire credit limit on a card lowers your score. Having credit cards with no balances ups your score. Free FICO® Credit Score Estimator
3. The length of time you've been using credit: This encompasses 15 percent of your score. This one you can't do much about today. But "paid as agreed" accounts that have been open for at least two years will help to increase your score.
4. The variety of accounts: This element represents 10 percent. A mix of credit accounts is good, but riskier types of credit will mean lower scores. For example, if most of your debt is in the form of finance-company loans, your score will be lower than if your debt is from student loans and mortgage loans, all other things being equal.
5. The number and types of accounts you've opened recently, generally in the last six months or so: These generate 10 percent of your score. Opening new accounts raises the question, "Can you afford a greater debt load, and also why have you opened them?" So, initially your score will go down. Once you show you can handle the new credit, the new credit will help your score. Credit Crisis Concerns? Get 20% off FICO credit scores now
To learn more about your credit score, better understand the factors affecting your score and what you can do about them, I suggest you go her Fico Scores/Reports. Fair Isaac Corp., the FICO score firm, has recently redone its Web site and has some excellent new educational features that you may find helpful. Finally, I want you to go to AnnualCreditReport.com to get a free copy of your credit reports and make sure there are no errors on them that are hurting your score. Around 20 percent of reports have some errors and yours may be one!
Finally, you will need to balance your desire to have a home now with the home and mortgage that you can afford with your current credit score. In today's tight credit environment, it will be super-hard and super-expensive to get a mortgage with your current credit. My advice is to work on rebuilding your score and wait until it improves before shopping for a home.