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The Scores That Matter in Mortgage Lending

, by Tom Quinn

So you're ready to take on a new mortgage and you've done your research. You have been educating yourself about credit scores, the credit process and how lenders evaluate credit for mortgage loan applications as you are getting ready to purchase a new home. And you know understanding your FICO® Scores is really important as they are the credit scores most commonly used in the mortgage lending process.

You've pulled your FICO® Scores and credit reports at myFICO to see where you stand but are not sure on which FICO Score versions you should focus. Do mortgage lenders use FICO® Score 8 from all three credit bureaus or FICO Score 8 from one and FICO® Score 5 from another? I know, it can be kind of confusing.

Let me explain ...

When you access your credit report and FICO Scores at myFICO, you now get access to more than one FICO® Score version. That's because different lenders may be using different versions of the FICO Score in their credit review processes and we want to make sure you are getting access to the FICO Score version your lender is likely using.

Why are there multiple versions? It boils down to two main reasons:

  1. FICO® Scores have been an important component of most lenders' credit criteria for the past 25 years. Over that time we have periodically updated the FICO Score mathematical formulas several times to keep them up to date and to maintain their predictive power. It's similar to how there are multiple generations of smartphones in use today.

  2. There are FICO Score versions tailored for select types of credit such as auto and bankcard lending. If you are applying for a car loan or signing up to get a credit card, there is a good chance the lender is using one of these tailored score versions

Each lender determines what FICO Score version they will use in their credit evaluation process. Generally speaking in most cases, you likely won't know what version a lender is going to pull when evaluating your credit request.

However, in mortgage lending it's less confusing. It is highly likely that the following FICO Score versions will be pulled on all mortgage applicants and from all three credit bureaus.

  • FICO® Score 5 based on Equifax data

  • FICO® Score 2 based on Experian data

  • FICO® Score 4 based on TransUnion data

Sometimes you may see or your lender may reference these versions in slight variations to the list above. For example, check out FICO Score version information found on Fannie Mae's website ) where they reference them as follows:

  • Equifax Beacon 5.0

  • Experian/Fair Isaac Risk Model V2SM

  • TransUnion FICO Risk Score, Classic 04

As you can see, there are some differences but most industry references to the FICO® Score versions commonly used in mortgage lending will have the appropriate version 5, 2 and 4 version number to the corresponding credit bureau listed.

Hope this provide some clarity. You can now focus on those mortgage-related versions in your FICO Score explanation report with confidence knowing they are the same versions your mortgage lender will likely access in the mortgage loan review process.

Tom Quinn

Tom Quinn is the Vice President of Business Development for myFICO and has over 25 years of experience working with consumers, regulators, and lenders regarding credit related questions and initiatives.