Top Ten Questions About Credit Reports

The following information is from Debra Stedt, a great mortgage broker with Guarantee Mortgage.

Mortgage lenders continue to add more weight to credit scores in evaluating whether to grant credit and also in pricing their loans. A difference of one point on a credit score can easily make a .125% difference in interest rate. On a $650,000 loan that’s $52.39 per month. That’s like a free tank of gas or twenty-one tall lattes. No wonder consumers are curious about credit scores. We therefore give you the top ten answers to the top ten questions about credit scores.

NUMBER TEN: What is the highest possible score? There is a slight difference between the three reporting agencies. Beacon scores range from 300 to 850, Fair Isaac from 360 to 840, and Empirica from 336 to 843.

NUMBER NINE: Can anyone determine the exact impact on my score for certain things, such as a 5 day late payment, a 30 day late payment, opening a new account, or having a collection filed? The short answer is “no.” But generally speaking, payment history has the most weight, new credit has more weight than old credit, and a high balance compared to the credit limit has more weight than a lower balance.

NUMBER EIGHT: Will closing accounts increase my score? It might, but paying balances down will have more effect than closing accounts with no balance.

NUMBER SEVEN: What is the difference between a hard inquiry and a soft inquiry? A hard inquiry is when a consumer seeks an extension of credit. Hard inquiries are posted to your file and are visible to potential creditors. A soft inquiry is when someone whispers into your ear, asking you what time it is. (Gotcha! Just wanted to know if you are reading carefully.) No, a soft inquiry is when a consumer requests his or her own report. Only a hard inquiry affects the credit scores, and the inquiry factor is less than 5% of the total credit score.

NUMBER SIX: Is there a website where I can play “what if” to see exactly how different actions will impact my credit score? The answer: “no, sorry.”

NUMBER FIVE: How long does it take after correcting an error on my report for the credit score to change? All agencies have (for a fee) a process for updating scores within as little as five days after receipt of documentation proving the error. Your lender can coordinate the process.

NUMBER FOUR: How long does a negative item stay on my report? The short answer is, “seven years.” The long answer is all items, negative or positive stay on your report for seven years.

NUMBER THREE: I get a different score from each agency. Which of my three credit scores does a lender use? For a couple, most lenders will use the lowest middle score of both borrowers. For a single person, they will use the middle score.

NUMBER TWO: Do credit reporting agencies have a direct line which will enable a consumer to speak with a real live person? Yes, they do. Your lender can give you the number, which can also be found on your credit report.

NUMBER ONE: What is the likely impact on my credit score for a mortgage payment that is 30 days late? The reason this is the number one question is that it is the most important. First: your credit score will take a hit somewhere in the 100 point range. This can be serious. A drop from 720 to 620 could disqualify you for a special loan program that you need for example. Second: a great many lenders will be reluctant to loan at all to borrowers with recent mortgage lates. SO, DON’T EVER BE 30 DAYS LATE WITH YOUR MORTGAGE PAYMENT. EVER.

A “drywall activist”???

I’m probably going to regret mocking this, but until then… below is an article from an Eastern Virginia paper about the issue they are having with “toxic chinese drywall.”

One individual is quoted as a “drywall activist” which seems a bit insane to me. I could understand “pissed off home seller” or “nervous home buyer” but how do you end up with enough time to become a drywall activist? I’m just sayin…

I’m not aware of the issue in San Francisco, but I suppose it is entirely possible and realistic to think some of our remodel or new construction from around 2006 – 2007 could be affected. I’m actually curious about some of the larger projects built around then like 1 Rincon and The Infinity to name but a few…

Toxic Chinese Drywall has Ripple Effect in Real Estate Market for Home Buyers and Sellers

August 17, 2010

By Joe Lawlor, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.

Aug. 17—At first glance, it might seem like a good deal: a spacious townhome in Denbigh, 2,200 square feet with three bedrooms and three bathrooms for $217,950.

But the home at 1006 Hollymeade Circle has a problem that’s not immediately clear to someone browsing homes on the Internet—toxic Chinese drywall.

The gases released from the drywall have caused health problems and corroded wiring and appliances in homes, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and homeowners across the country who have the material in their houses. Many people have left their homes, and some have gone into foreclosure as they struggled to pay for rent in addition to their mortgage.

Among the myriad of issues with Chinese drywall is what to do with properties that end up back on the real estate market. Some houses for sale may not disclose about Chinese drywall, especially if the home went into foreclosure and is now owned by a bank, real estate experts say. And home inspectors do not routinely test for the drywall gases.

The listing agent for 1006 Hollymeade Circle, Kevin Pall, said Monday the house shouldn’t sell for anywhere near the listing price, because of the presence of Chinese drywall. Pall said the lockbox was removed, no one is allowed inside the property and the drywall problem is now disclosed to potential buyers.

“You would have to be crazy to purchase it at the price that it’s at now,” Pall said.

The Hollymeade Circle listing didn’t originally disclose the Chinese drywall when it entered the market on May 27, Pall said, because at that time he didn’t know that the bank-owned home contained defective drywall. The home is a foreclosure, currently owned by Bank of America, Pall said. He said he’s waiting to hear what the bank wants to do with the property.

The previous homeowners, through an intermediary, did not respond to requests to be interviewed by the Daily Press.

Signs throughout the neighborhood used to warn people that Hollymeade had toxic drywall. Those signs have since been removed.

Pall said when he found out a few weeks ago that the home might have drywall, he sprang into action. A contractor inspected the property, determined that the home did indeed have defective drywall, and he immediately included the drywall disclosure on the listing.

“No one is allowed to go inside the unit,” Pall said. “I wouldn’t have wanted (drywall problems) to happen to anybody else.”

Activists said one of their worries is that the problem would be passed along to unsuspecting new homeowners.

“The more you ignore this Chinese drywall problem, the more widespread it’s going to be, and the more people are going to be affected,” said Colleen Stephens, a Virginia Beach drywall activist who is a member of the state’s defective drywall task force. Stephens and other activists say the response by the government has been slow and weak.

When the drywall is disclosed, selling prices dip dramatically, because the cost of removing the drywall and wiring is nearly the same as re-building, according to homeowners who have had estimates done on their properties.

“It (the presence of Chinese drywall) makes the property virtually un-marketable,” said Tom Sullivan, president of the Virginia Peninsula Association of Realtors. “This is a really tough nut to crack.”

Sullivan said he would be hard-pressed to even accept a listing if he knew a home had Chinese drywall.

What might help is a list that the Virginia attorney general’s office has that shows what addresses Chinese drywall was delivered to from 2006-2009 by Drywall Venture Supply, a former Norfolk-based business. Most of the deliveries were in 2006 and 2007, when the housing market was still strong.

The house at 1006 Hollymeade Circle is on the list, having 181 sheets of drywall delivered in April 2006. The list doesn’t indicate whether the builders used the Chinese drywall in the construction of the homes, but it could be an indication that testing is needed.

Pall said the list, if it were to be distributed, should be useful to real estate agents.

“More information is always better,” he said.

What to do with the list was a topic at the Aug. 8 meeting of the drywall task force in Newport News.

Sullivan said he’s concerned the list might include homes that did not have the drywall, but the topic is sure to be discussed again.

“We need to do something about this,” Sullivan said. “There’s too much confusion out there.”

Brian Gottstein, a spokesman for the state attorney general’s office, said the attorney general’s office won’t be distributing the list because it’s not considered a public document. He said it falls under an exemption related to information gathered by the attorney general’s office for possible investigatory purposes. He said others who have the list can freely distribute it.

The Daily Press obtained the 21-page list from a homeowner who obtained it from attorneys working on national drywall litigation. To review the list, go to

Del. G. Glenn Oder, R-Newport News, said he’s not sure how it should be distributed, but he believes the list should be handed out.

“People who have Chinese drywall in their homes should be told it’s there,” Oder said, comparing it to health and safety recalls. “Responsible companies let their people know when their product is defective. By whatever means possible, people need to be notified.”

Read more: