By Kay Wilson-Bolton
President, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS®
June 4, 2000
REALTORS® were at the forefront with some important partners in supporting SB 1607, introduced by Senator Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont) which gives homebuyers the “Right to Know” their credit scores. This bill is landmark legislation and it will take some of the mystery out of credit reporting. It passed the Senate on a 31 to 1 vote.
For years, homebuyers were kept in the dark about their credit scores. Buyers with a score of 700 or better had little problem obtaining a mortgage. No one told consumers that they could engage in behavior that hurt their score without even knowing it.
Supporters of the bill view this as a great victory for the consumer because they have a fundamental right to know what their score is and how their loan applications are being evaluated.
Over the last five years, the mortgage lending industry has become increasingly dependent on credit scores to evaluate risks associated with prospective borrowers. Mortgage lenders contract with the three major credit reporting bureaus (Experian Inc., Trans Union Corp., and Equifax Inc.) to access a borrower’s credit report.
The reporting bureaus then contract with a modeler, like Fair, Isaac and Company, based in San Rafael, California, to determine a “FICO” or credit score.
Lenders then use the credit score to determine loan eligibility, interest rates and other loan terms for prospective homebuyers. Consumers are not allowed to know their score, how it was determined or how they can improve that score if needed.
The irony is that a good credit report does not mean that a consumer has a good credit score.
An example of how a score can be negatively impacted is when someone shops for a loan on the Internet or transfers loan balances on credit cards in order to obtain more favorable interest rates. Every credit inquiry negatively impacts the score.
The new SB 1607 requires lenders to provide consumers with the specific credit score, the credit information used to compile the score along with an explanation of how scores work.
Consumers are allowed to receive a copy of their credit score when they request copies of the credit file for a fee less than $4. The law compels reporting agencies to correct inaccurate information in a timely manner, and it provides consumers additional legal recourse when credit-reporting agencies continue to report inaccuracies.
This bill is a landmark for homebuyers and we now await the vote of the Assembly. Those of us who wear the “Blue R” take pride in knowing that our State Association is at the forefront of such important legislation.
Kay Wilson-Bolton is president of the Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS®. For more information, contact Kay Runnion, Interim CEO, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS® at 981.2100. Our website is http://www.vc-realtors.com