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Before they decide on the terms of your loan, lenders need to know two things about you: your ability to repay the loan, and how committed you are to repay the loan. To assess your ability to pay back the loan, lenders look at your debt-to-income ratio. To assess your willingness to repay, they use your credit score.
The most commonly used credit scores are called FICO scores, which were developed by Fair Isaac & Company, Inc. The FICO score ranges from 350 (high risk) to 850 (low risk). You can find out more on FICO here.
Credit scores only consider the info in your credit profile. They don't consider income or personal characteristics. These scores were invented specifically for this reason. Credit scoring was envisioned as a way to assess willingness to pay without considering other demographic factors.
Your current debt level, past late payments, length of your credit history, and a few other factors are considered. Your score is calculated with positive and negative information in your credit report. Late payments count against your score, but a record of paying on time will improve it.
To get a credit score, borrowers must have an active credit account with a payment history of at least six months. This payment history ensures that there is sufficient information in your credit to calculate an accurate score. Should you not meet the criteria for getting a credit score, you might need to establish your credit history prior to applying for a mortgage.