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Credit Scores Nearly 50 Points Lower for Renters

Experian study indicates Texas has lowest credit scores

May 27, 2004


Credit scores for homeowners with a mortgage are significantly better than scores for renters, according to a study by one of the "Big 3" national credit reporting agencies. The report also found that Texas is the state with the lowest average credit scores for mortgage borrowers.

Experian Consumer Direct -- a division of Experian and a provider of online direct-to-consumer credit reports and products -- recently reported the findings of a nationwide study on the effects of mortgages on consumer credit scores.

The results reportedly showed that U.S. consumers with at least one open mortgage have an average Experian PLUS Score of 716 versus 667 for nonmortgage consumers. The Plus Score is Experian's numeric representation of financial behavior, based on information found in credit reports. The score can range from 330 to 830, with the higher score indicating a lower credit risk.

Because most mortgages are large loans, they can form an important part of a consumer's credit history, according to Experian. An open, current mortgage account generally improves consumers' credit scores because it shows potential lenders the person has been considered creditworthy in the past, and therefore indicates more responsibility in handling future financial engagements.

"We are not saying that if you have a mortgage, then your credit score will jump significantly up," spokeswoman Heather Greer said. "Having a good standing mortgage will contribute positively to a credit score, similar to other good standing accounts."

Experian believes there are other reasons for credit scores being higher for consumers with at least one open mortgage. These people have established a good history of managing their credit prior to obtaining the mortgage, Greer said. Also, they have reached a certain point in their life where they are stable, settled, she added, and they are making a good income or are at their peak income to be able to afford the mortgage.

On a state-to-state basis, South Dakota mortgage borrowers had the highest PLUS Score average at 738 versus 701 for nonmortgage consumers, while Texas mortgage borrowers had the lowest average at 690 versus 642, according to the study.

The study was compiled using the Experian National Score Index, which is based upon a nationwide sampling of three million consumer profiles and formulated using the PLUS Score, the credit agency said. The index monitors several components of consumer credit behavior to provide insight into consumer credit trends.

Other findings were that the average mortgage amount is approximately $136,000 for U.S. consumers, and that only 10% of consumer mortgages exceed $250,000, Experian said.

The study also showed that the average number of credit inquiries for home loans is highest in the month of July.

While the PLUS Score is Experian's proprietary credit score, the agency also uses Fair Isaac and Company software to produce a FICO score, which it names the Experian/Fair Isaac Risk Model score. FICO scores are lenders' most commonly used base for credit risk decisions and have different names at each of the three credit reporting agencies, according to myfico.com. TransUnion names its Empirica and at Equifax it is called BEACON.

Coco Salazar is an assistant editor and staff writer for MortgageDaily.com.

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