Credit scores among U.S. consumers surged to a record high this spring. Further, the share of borrowers considered among the riskiest borrowers hit a record low. The higher credit scores could be a boon for the mortgage market: A good credit score can help borrowers snag a better mortgage rate and better their chances of qualifying for financing.
“Higher scores lead to more available credit,” says Cris deRitis, senior director in the economics group at Moody’s Analytics. “We’d see more activity in terms of loan approvals and credit-card approvals, more spending, and that would have a ripple effect across the economy, increasing aggregate demand for goods and services.”
In April, the average credit score nationwide reached 700, which is up one point from last fall, according to the Fair Isaac Corp. That is the highest average since FICO began tracking such data in 2005.
The share of consumers considered to be the riskiest — with scores below 600 — hit a record low of about 40 million, or 20 percent of U.S. consumers who have FICO scores, according to Fair Isaac. That is down from a 25.5 percent peak in 2010.
Rising credit scores will likely prompt banks to make more credit available to consumers and at a cheaper cost, finance experts say.
“The domino effect for lenders would be more consumers they can market to [and] more consumers who may be credit-eligible who weren’t in last year’s models,” says Nidhi Verma, senior director of research and consulting at TransUnion, a credit-reporting firm.
Part of the reason behind the soaring credit scores is the increasing number of foreclosures and bankruptcies that are falling from American’s credit reports. More than 6 million U.S. consumers will have personal bankruptcies disappear within the next five years from their reports, according to Barclays PLC.
Consumers have a greater likelihood of getting approved for financing after negative events, like bankruptcies and foreclosures, drop from their reports. Foreclosures stay on credit reports for up to seven years (dating to the missed payment that resulted in the foreclosure). Foreclosure starts peaked in 2009 at 2.1 million, according to ATTOM Data Solutions. Personal bankruptcies can stay on credit reports for seven to 10 years.