Is There A Rule-of-Thumb Regarding The Number Of Credit Lines To Have Open?

While the actual credit score has a big impact on a loan approval, it’s not the only component of the credit scenario that underwriters consider for a mortgage approval.

Since loan programs, individual lenders and mortgage insurance companies all have their own credit report restrictions, it’s difficult to define a standard Rule-of-Thumb to follow.

However, the number of “Open and Active Trade Lines” seems to be the common denominator in most approvals.

A trade line is basically a credit card, installment loan or other credit liability that is reported to the credit bureaus and displayed on a credit report.

Credit Trade Line / Approval Bullets:

  • Banks usually won’t count a trade line that is less than 12 months old.
  • The minimum number of trade lines most lenders find acceptable is 4 open and active trade lines.
  • Lenders like to see at least one credit line of $5,000, or all credit lines to total $1,000 or more.

Exceptions to Trade Line Rules:

Interestingly enough, a recent list of Mortgage Insurance requirements included a favorable trade line requirement, which read:

Min 3 trade lines @ 12 mo reporting. Cannot be ‘authorized user’

Basically, this means as long as the lender, and the loan program allow for less than 4 trade lines, this mortgage insurance company will accept only 3 trade lines that are in the borrower’s name.

Another exception to this rule is if you have no FICO score, and no negative trade lines.

In this case you may qualify for an “alternative credit” loan. The most common loan of this type is insured by FHA, but there are select programs that are usually targeted to assist people whose culture does not trust or use banks.

Borrowers applying for a non-traditional credit loan will still need to prove they have successfully paid their bills on time for 12 months by clearly documenting at least four creditors.  A verification of rent from a property management company, power, utilities, cell phone… are alternative sources of credit that can be used.

*A letter from a landlord or creditor stating that the bills were paid on time is not acceptable forms of proof.  Lenders will need canceled checks and / or copies of bank statements to start out with.

Since not all companies report to credit bureaus, it’s possible to get a free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com to verify your total reported trade lines.

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March 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment

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About Lester

In 1973, I graduated high school and started college. In 1977, I met and married my wife Deborah of 40 years, put on a suit and tie, and went to work for Prudential Insurance Company. In 1979, my wife was offered a great job as an advertising executive for a San Jose television station, so we moved from the Monterey Bay area to San Jose, CA. I needed a new job in San Jose and I didn’t really want to start from scratch with a new insurance office. While going to college, I had managed a Travelodge, and it was that management experience that landed my new job and started my career in real estate as a property manager. In 1980, I completed my first certification course with the National Apartment Management Accreditation Board (NAA), and in 1983, I earned my Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) designation which I keep current today. In 1984, my daughter Pearl was born, and in 1987, my son Max was born. When I was managing rental properties, many of my tenants wanted to become homeowners, so in 1988, I got my real estate sales license with the California Department of Real Estate to help them with that goal. As a new Realtor, I found that obtaining financing is the first and most important step to shopping for a home, so in 1989, I completed my first of many programs in real estate finance and loan officer training. In 2000, I stopped doing property management and real estate sales altogether, to concentrate on mortgage loan origination exclusively with Coast Capital Mortgage. In 2004, I moved from Coast Capital Mortgage to join First Priority Financial. In 2014, First Priority Financial changed its business model from mortgage brokerage and banking to just mortgage banking. To better serve my clients and stay a competitive mortgage broker, I joined C2 Financial Corporation. How many people can truly say that they love the company that they work for? I can! ◾C2 Financial Corporation is a mortgage brokerage and a banker. ◾They are A rated and accredited by the Better Business Bureau. ◾Members of National Association of Mortgage Brokers ◾FHA and VA approved. ◾Managed by principals with over 62 years experience in the mortgage industry. ◾Partners with the largest banks in the U.S. ◾One of Scotsman’s Guide Top Mortgage Originators of 2012 and 2013. I’m a lucky guy that loves my job and the people that I work with. Every day borrowers entrust me with one of the most important financial decisions of their life and I don’t take that responsibility lightly. I do what is best for my clients and know that by doing so I’m not only doing what is morally and ethically right, this belief system will result in my borrowers referring me additional clients, which is the best long-term business model. So far so good!

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