If you’re in the market for a home and your credit score is lower than you thought, you might be wondering how you can raise it fast. A rapid rescore may be an option — provided you can pay down debts quickly and your lender is willing to do it.*
A rapid rescore is a request to one or more of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to update your credit file immediately.
Under normal circumstances, changes to your credit score appear within 30-45 days. But you may not have that much time if you’re in a hurry to buy a house or have already had an offer accepted.
Rapid rescores can be loan-savers in a pinch. But they’re not right, or available, in every situation.
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What is a rapid rescore?
A rapid rescore is a formal request from a mortgage lender to one or more of the credit bureaus to immediately update a borrower’s credit report with new information.
A loan officer might request a rapid rescore if there’s an error on the borrower’s file, or the borrower can prove that they recently paid down a debt that isn’t reflected in their file yet.
Typically, a loan officer might do a rapid rescore if a homebuyer needs to raise their score a few points to meet the product guidelines for a particular program.
“A rapid rescore is done during the underwriting process, usually for applicants who are right on the cusp of credit qualification but who have issues in their credit or that prevent approval, such as a debt-to-income ratio just over what the lender will accept,” said Brian Martucci, the Minneapolis-based finance editor for Money Crashers.
The borrower may be a few points shy of meeting the minimum credit score requirement. Or, they might need a slightly higher score to get a lower interest rate. The rate isn’t just about saving money — it affects your estimated monthly payments and therefore your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), another key factor in mortgage eligibility.
If the rapid rescore request results in negative items being removed from your credit file or debts being paid down, your score could jump significantly within a few days.
After you submit your mortgage application, your lender may tell you that your credit score is too low to qualify.
If you can demonstrate that you have recently worked to improve your credit, perhaps by paying down debts right before you applied for the mortgage, your lender can request a rapid rescore.
Your lender may also suggest paying down a particular amount on your debt accounts, after which they will request the rapid rescore. In either case, they’ll likely want to see proof that you paid off the debts before they make the request, as rapid rescores can be costly and they are paid entirely by the lenders.
“A rapid rescore is helpful for someone looking to improve their credit score quickly to obtain a mortgage with a better rate and payment,” said Jason Gelios, a REALTOR in Southeast Michigan. “Typically, people who find out about a credit report error during the mortgage preapproval process opt for a rapid rescore.”
A rapid rescore request can only be done through a mortgage lender, and it’s not appropriate for everyone.
“Not everyone has the credentials to warrant a rapid rescore. These are reserved for people who have already made improvements to their credit history,” said Than Merrill, CEO of FortuneBuilders. “If you still have work to do to improve your credit score, you’ll need to consider an alternative, such as working on your own to improve your debt-to-income ratio by paying off recurring debts and loans.”
“These self-efforts can improve your credit score and achieve similar results to a rapid rescore, but it will take a much longer period for the credit reporting agencies to reflect these changes in your credit reports,” Merrill added.
If your lender offers you a rapid rescore, know that you cannot pay for it. The lender must cover that cost, by law. For that reason, not all lenders do rapid rescores. They could be out hundreds of dollars if it does not raise your score.
Most rapid rescores take around three to seven days, from initial request to a change in the borrower’s credit information.
“But you may be taking a gamble that your score will increase. It’s possible that a new negative credit issue could pop up after requesting a rapid rescore, which could actually lower your credit score,” Gelios cautioned.
Talk with your lender about any other credit applications you recently submitted to avoid any surprises in the process.
There are alternatives to a rapid rescore — and they don’t include going it alone.
Some lenders will offer credit guidance to help get your score to a place where you can qualify for a mortgage.
Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation, which owns Home.com, has a Creditool program that loan officers can use to create custom plans for borrowers who need to raise their scores.
The loan officers can run “What if?” simulations to determine how much you need to pay off to hit the target number. They’ll also provide step-by-step directions on how to get there.
If you follow the plan, they can either run a rapid rescore or allow your score to come up organically as you pay down debt. Typically, a rapid rescore is appropriate if you’ve put in an offer on a home or have a short closing window and need to get approved fast.
If you’re at the beginning of your homebuying journey, you may be better off taking time to improve your score and allowing it to come up over the next several months.
Following a lender’s plan, whether it’s based on Creditool or another credit modeling system, doesn’t guarantee that you’ll qualify for a loan. However, it can help get your credit score in the ballpark and significantly boost your chances.
Not all lenders offer rapid rescores. The process can be costly, and not all companies or mortgage lender branches are willing to cover the expense, particularly if the borrower needs to make substantial changes in order to raise their score.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to monitor your credit score before you apply for a mortgage. Pay down as much debt as you can, and avoid taking out new loans or credit cards for at least six months prior to applying. Keep your credit card balances low as well. Most importantly, pay your bills on time. These are the biggest factors in your credit score, and consistent good credit habits will improve your likelihood of qualifying for a mortgage.
If you’re really struggling to get your debts under control, you may consider contacting a debt management agency. But it isn’t always easy to figure out which companies are credible.
Many debt management agencies are nonprofits that may earn their revenue through fees, so proceed with caution.
A reputable debt management service may provide free initial counseling sessions to discuss your finances and determine whether you’re a candidate for their debt consolidation and management services.
If they can help you, they will attempt to negotiate your bills with your creditors, either for a lower pay-off amount, reduced interest rate, or lower monthly payment.
But your creditors are not obligated to participate. They may agree in order to get the debt paid. However, they do not have to accept the offer and may require you to pay the bill in full as agreed.
If you choose to work with a debt management company, you’ll pay them one fee every month for all of your bills (plus the agency’s fee). The agency then pays all of your creditors out of that one lump sum. This can alleviate your stress, since you don’t have to manage multiple payments. The reduced balances, if any, can also make it easier to pay down your debts and get your credit score back on track.
But not all credit counseling companies have your best interest at heart. There are plenty of bad players in the space, so check review sites, Better Business Bureau profiles, and other references before paying any money to an agency.
If your creditors agree to let you pay off the account for less than you owe, your credit score might dip at first. But as you make your payments on time and bring down your balances, your score will likely improve.
And here’s another benefit: a credit counseling company will work with you to develop solid personal finance skills so you can avoid taking on debt in the future. By the time you qualify for a mortgage, you’ll have a stronger credit score and a firmer grasp on your finances — both of which are essential to sustainable homeownership.
Credit repair companies target borrowers with bad credit or low credit scores, promising to help them raise their scores. But it’s best to steer clear of these companies because they charge high fees and don’t always deliver results. They’ll also tell you to do things you can learn on your own for free or by working with your mortgage lender.
If your loan officer does not offer rapid rescores or it’s not an option for you, ask your lender for guidance on what to do next. They may tell you which accounts to prioritize and how much you need to pay off.
If your lender doesn’t offer this type of assistance, you can apply with other lenders who do or focus on building basic credit skills yourself.
The keys to good credit are:
- Paying your bills on time
- Living within your means to avoid taking on debt
- Keeping your balances low
And you can do all of these things without paying a cent to a credit repair company.
Also beware of debt settlement companies. They may sound the same as debt management companies, but they’re very different. Debt settlement companies will charge high fees, and they may give you bad advice, including telling you to stop paying your bills while they negotiate with your credit providers. You do not want to stop paying your bills.
Failing to pay your bills can lead to default and your accounts being sent to collections, which will hurt your credit score.
Additionally, debt settlement companies cannot guarantee that your creditors will forgive or reduce your debts. If they’re not successful, you will owe all of the back payments plus interest, fees, and penalties — not to mention the settlement company’s fees.
There are many free and low-cost options for managing and paying off your debt. So, just say no to companies that make big claims (and want big money) about what they can do for your credit and debts.
Martucci notes that the potential savings for any rapid rescore will depend on the size of your loan, the change in your credit score, how your lender prices loans for different borrower risk categories and loan types, and other factors.
To demonstrate how a rapid rescore may benefit you, Gelios offered the following hypothetical scenario.
Borrower A and Borrower B both want to take out 30-year fixed-rate mortgages to buy $250,000 homes.
Borrower A has excellent credit and receives a 3% interest rate. His principal and interest payments come out to $1,054 a month.
Borrower B has low credit and receives a 5% interest rate. Her principal and interest payments are $1,342 a month — $288 more than what Borrower A will pay.
But Borrower B pays down some of her credit card balances to get her score on par with Borrower A. Her lender does a rapid rescore, allowing her to qualify for the same 3% rate. She saves $288 a month, and more than $100,000 in interest over the life of the loan.
As you can see, a rapid rescore can help you qualify for a loan and save serious money. But your lender has to agree to it. And you must be willing and able to make the payments and other changes to get your score where it needs to be for a rapid rescore to make sense.
Again, only a mortgage lender can request a rapid rescore, so you will need to apply for a loan before this option becomes available. But you can likely accomplish the same results by taking steps yourself well ahead of time.
“Paying down your revolving credit balances, paying more than your minimum payment every month, increasing your credit limit, and requesting that negative or erroneous entries be removed from each of your credit reports can all help you improve your credit score,” said Imani Francies, an Atlanta-based mortgage expert with Clearsurance.com.
Working on your credit on your own also helps you build better habits and learn from the process, something a rapid rescore can’t give you.
“If you have the luxury of waiting several months or longer to apply for your mortgage loan, paying down outstanding debt balances and manually disputing credit report errors may produce a bigger and more durable credit score increase,” Martucci said.
But it can take months before changes are reflected in your credit score.
That’s why, if you are in a rush to get approved for a home loan, Gelios said “a rapid rescore through a lender is your best strategy.”
Rapid rescore FAQs
No. A rapid rescore can only be requested through a lender.
The usual turnaround time for a rapid rescore result is three to seven business days.
Rapid rescores can get expensive fast. They can cost $40 or more, per bureau per account. There are three main bureaus. So if you have two accounts to update, times three bureaus, it would cost $240 (3 x 2 x $40) This is why many lenders don’t do rapid rescores. They pay the fee but have no guarantee that they can close your loan. Borrowers are not responsible for rapid rescore costs, and lenders are legally prohibited from passing these costs onto homebuyers.
A rapid rescore can be beneficial if you need to boost your credit score quickly. But it’s not always an option, or even the best option. Focusing on good credit habits before you get a mortgage, and working with your lender on a solid credit-improvement plan can yield longer-lasting benefits.
*Fairway is not a registered or licensed credit management service provider.
Some references sourced within this article have not been prepared by Fairway and are distributed for educational purposes only. The information is not guaranteed to be accurate and may not entirely represent the opinions of Fairway.