Buying a home is probably the largest purchase you’ll likely make in your lifetime. So it comes as no surprise that the entire process can be a stressful situation; after all, how often do you make a six-figure purchase?

couple looking at home

Between negotiations with the homeowner and a complex loan underwriting process, there are countless opportunities for things to go wrong. In fact, buyer financing is one of the likeliest issues to prevent a closing from taking place.

A common problem that many people face is having a credit score that is borderline, either for the best interest rates, the lowest down payment amount, or even being approved for the loan altogether.

There is a solution offered by mortgage lenders that can help your credit get the quick boost it needs during the home buying process. It’s called a rapid rescore and if you’re considering purchasing a house or condo in the near future, it’s definitely worth learning more about.

How does rapid rescore work?

When you’re applying for a mortgage loan, lenders look at your credit scores to determine whether or not you’ll be approved. They also use in deciding what interest rates you’ll get and how much of a down payment you’ll need to pay.

It’s a big deal because even a difference of just a quarter percentage point in your interest rate can save you (or cost you) tens of thousands of dollars over the course of your mortgage.

And it’s one thing to be prepared to pay for a 5% down payment, but what if your lender suddenly requires a 10% down payment because of your credit scores? That’s a $10,000 difference on a $200,000 home.

A rapid rescore is a way to quickly increase your credit score to help you qualify for better rates and terms during the mortgage application process.

Maybe you’ve updated some important financial information already but the changes haven’t been reflected on your credit report yet. Or maybe you want to pay down enough debt in order to qualify for a lower rate.

Your lender can help you look at your credit history with a credit score simulator and figure out hypothetically what actions could get your score to where it needs to be. Then you actually take those actions.

Since positive movement generally takes several weeks to appear on your credit report, you then get a rapid rescore done. Those new items will quickly show up on your credit history (and ideally, give you a new credit score as well).

How long does a rapid rescore take?

Normal disputes with the credit bureaus typically take 30 days to resolve, and the updates can take even longer to actually show up on your report. A rapid rescore, on the other hand, takes just between three and seven business days from start to finish.

Because the closing date on a home typically can’t be delayed beyond the original agreement, it’s not realistic for homebuyers to have to wait a month or more just to hear back on the results of their request to the credit bureaus.

Rapid rescoring is an expedited process that goes directly through your lender and can have huge results, all within the timeframe you need. What used to take weeks or even months can be done in just a matter of days.

What items can be addressed with rapid rescoring?

The easiest and possibly most successful item you can have updated through rapid rescoring is paying down a loan or credit card balance. Your amounts owed account for 30% of your credit score, so if you have lingering debt, it might behoove you to pay it off.

Plus, on top of your credit, lenders also look at your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio — that’s how much in minimum debt payments you owe each month compared to how much pre-tax income you bring in.

If it’s over 43%, you might have trouble qualifying for a home loan. Your lender can use the simulator to give you a suggestion of how much debt to pay off to either improve your credit scores or lower your DTI. Then, you can do a rapid rescore so that the information is quickly updated on your credit report.

Even if you regularly pay off your credit card balances, a zero balance might not be reflected in your credit score. Whatever your credit card balance was on the day your report was pulled, that is the amount of debt that will be factored into your loan application.

Plus, remember that most information has at least a 30-day delay, so unless you’ve stopped charging your cards well in advance of applying for a loan, you’re likely to see some sort of balance, whether it’s up-to-date or not.

Another way to improve your credit is by filing a dispute regarding an error on your credit report. It’s always best to review your report for accuracy once a year, so if something has changed or been added incorrectly since the last time you looked at it, rapid rescoring can help get it taken off.

You will also want to look for any signs of identity theft. Just remember that an item does have to be an actual error for this tactic to work.

How much does a rapid rescore cost?

It can add up, costing between $25 and $50 for each account on each credit report but luckily, your lender pays for the service. It has to be done with each individual credit bureau, so even if there’s just one item to update, that can add up between $75 and $150.

However, federal law prevents you as the consumer for being charged for this service. That’s because the Fair Credit Reporting Act prohibits individuals from being charged for disputing information on their credit reports.

Consequently, your lender will absorb the cost. It’s really in their best interest to do so because they run the risk of losing your loan business if you don’t qualify for the best rates and terms, or for any loan at all.

Is rapid rescoring the same as repairing your credit?

No, the rapid rescoring service goes directly through your mortgage lender rather than a credit repair service. It’s really only used for quickly updating information that is outdated, or disputing false information within a quick timeframe.

If credit repair seems like a better option, check out our list of the best credit repair services. The sooner you get started, the better, especially if you’re about to start the search for a new home.

What is required for a rapid rescore?

It takes a few steps to complete. The first several steps can be done with your lender. Start by figuring out exactly how short your credit score is for qualifying for the loan or interest rate that you want.

Then, determine which credit reports need updating. Do all three major credit bureaus list the incorrect or outdated information? Or do you only need to update one report?

Your next step is to have your lender run the simulator program. This offers solutions on what you can do to potentially improve your credit score.

Once you figure out the information you need, it’s your job to hand over any supporting documentation to your lender.

Perhaps it’s a credit card statement showing your new low balance, or other paperwork verifying a date for a particular item on your report. Once you provide your lender with the relevant documents, you should receive your updated credit report and credit score within just a few days.

Rapid rescoring can be extremely useful in getting approved for a mortgage or even taking advantage of the very best rates available. It gives you the chance to have all of your financial information completely updated before getting your credit score calculated — a crucial moment in the home financing process.

You’ll need the help of a knowledgeable lender so make sure you find someone who knows the ins and outs of the process. After that, all you’ll have left to do is pack up some boxes and pick up your keys!