Easing Up On Credit Reports?

Posted by Steph Kaye on Friday, March 13th, 2015 at 6:17pm.

Fewer Negative Entries

If you’ve been struggling to build or repair your credit score, there are some changes happening soon that may make things easier for you.

On Monday, the three largest providers of credit-reporting information announced an agreement to change the way they handle information on your credit report. Going forward, consumers may see fewer negative entries added to their credit reports from secondary sources such as medical bills and collections for non-contractual payment agreements (such as traffic fines). The credit bureaus are also planning to reinforce higher-reporting standards across the board. But that isn’t the only way to beef up a credit history. Two studies recently conducted by Experian found a way to capitalize on a previously untapped source of positive payment history: rent and utility payment checks we write each month.

In the past, paying your rent and utility bills on time did nothing for your credit report or score, leaving many consumers out in the cold. “For many Americans, financial exclusion is a reality,” said Emily Christiansen, director of Experian RentBureau. She pointed out that even though many Americans consistently meet their financial obligations, they have little to no credit history because they operate primarily on a cash basis, which shuts them out of mainstream financial services products.

To see what impact including this information would have on consumers, Experian added payment history for a select group with thin or no-credit profiles. According to Experian’s Let There Be Light study, adding positive utility payments to credit reports yielded the following results:

A 50% drop in subprime consumers with credit scores between 300 and 600

A 54% increase in consumers considered nonprime with credit scores between 601 and 660

A 15% increase in those with credit scores over 661, generally considered prime

When positive rent payment information was added, the number of consumers designated as subprime dropped by nearly
20%, according to Experian’s
Credit For Renting study.

The study also found that adding rental payments helped consumers with limited credit history. Before the study was conducted, 11% of the renters had no credit file or credit score. After the information was added, those renters were considered scorable and able to start building positive credit histories. There is one caveat to adding new information: Once landlords and utility companies are reporting monthly, consumers’ credit scores decline if they pay late or miss payments.

But the good may still outweigh the potential downside, said Chris Magnotti, strategic analytic consultant for Experian. Namely, people with no credit history will still be able to build tradelines and develop a credit scoreNot all landlords and utility companies, however, have plans to report payment histories. There are currently only 750 property management companies reporting data to Experian RentBureau, according to Christiansen. But even if yours isn’t, you may still be able to get the information to appear on your credit report.

Christiansen suggests directing your landlord to the Experian RentBureau’s website, where both property management companies and private landlords can sign up to start reporting data. If that doesn’t work, you can also sign up through a rent payment service working with Experian RentBureau. These services allow for the payment and collection of rent electronically, and renters have the ability to opt in to reporting their rental payment history to Experian RentBureau.

Getting your utilities to report may take some additional follow- through. Typically, a utility company will report your payment history if requested, but the company may report only one time. If you want your information reported on a regular basis, you may have to make the request again. But when you’re trying to get out of the credit doghouse, a short phone call might just be worth the extra effort. 

If you are in the market for a new house and would like information on homes for sale, or are first time home buyer not working with a Realtor and would like to schedule a consultation with a qualified Oakland County and Macomb County Realtor, please complete the Lang Premier Properties contact form to have a real estate agent contact you. 

Lang Premier Properties are Birmingham Realtors specializing in Oakland County Real Estate. Stephanie is an agent with Lang Premier Properties. See what past clients have to say about Stephanie Lang.  Lang Premier Properties looks out for your best interests when you purchase a new custom luxury home. We always recommend working with an experienced luxury real estate agent when buying a new luxury estate.

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