FICO scores hit all-time high (thank you, millennials)

OK, boomer. It turns out that millennials are good for something: paying their bills on time. The blog by Experian, one of the three credit bureaus that make up the FICO score, just noted that FICOs are currently at an all-time high.

In 2019, according to Experian data, the average FICO Score in the United States hit a record high of 703. That’s up from 701 in 2018 and up 14 points since 2010. That may seem surprising, but it shouldn’t be, as more people are monitoring their credit reports and credit scores using the wide array of available free solutions. In fact, 72% of consumers responding to a recent Experian study say their credit score is important or very important to them.

“We’ve seen the average FICO® Score of the U.S. population steadily increase each year since the Great Recession in the mid 2000s,” says Tom Quinn, vice president of scores at FICO. “The increase is being driven by changes in consumer credit behaviors. For example, the percent of the population with a 30-plus-day past-due [payment] reported in the last year has decreased by 22% between April 2009 and April 2019, and average credit card utilization has decreased by 28% during the same time period.”

And to what or whom can we attribute the changes in consumer credit behaviors that Quinn is talking about? Millennials. That’s right. Millennials are simply doing a better job of paying their bills.

“Their economic emergence is reflected by a 25-point increase in average FICO Score since 2012 (the earliest available Experian data)—the biggest increase of any generation. With an average FICO Score of 668, millennials’ improving credit shows opportunity for reaching an average in the “good” FICO Score range if growth trends continue,” the post states.

Caliber CEO makes 5 surprising predictions

ICYMI, the CEO of Caliber Home Loans, Sanjiv Das gave us this piece on five ways the housing market will surprise us all in 2020, and here they are:

  1. Mortgage refinancing will last longer than expected
  2. Housing affordability improves
  3. Home purchases will increase
  4. The non-qualified mortgage market will evolve more quickly
  5. Gig economy workers will drive a new wave of home buying

At least four of those are somewhat surprising, but the last two take the cake. Is Das making the case for opening up the credit box to more esoteric borrowers? As the leader of such a large lender, he has the opportunity to move into this wide-open lending space.

“Non-QM mortgages are often designed for self-employed borrowers, real estate investors, and near-prime borrowers,” Das explains. As Fannie and Freddie face reform, there is a chance that the private market would look to fund these kinds of borrowers at a higher level.

As for his prediction on gig economy workers, Das explains that 36% of America’s workers work in the gig economy in some way or another. However, current mortgage applications require W2 forms that these individuals may not have. Congress may be able to help, Das said, but they aren’t going to hold their breath for political-lead change in this regard.

“The Self-Employed Mortgage Access Act would enable lenders to accept alternative forms of income and job verifications,” Das explains. “The enactment of this law would be a boon to millions of Americans who want to take part in the American Dream of owning a home. But those of us in the housing industry aren’t waiting for Congress, as my firm and others are introducing responsible ways to verify gig economy workers.”

And the Nerdwallet best mortgage lenders award goes to…

Awards junkies, rejoice. Nerdwallet’s best mortgage lenders awards are here to assuage the lull between the Golden Globes a couple weeks ago and the Oscars ceremony, which doesn’t take place until early February.

The consumer-facing financial advice and data analytics website recently ranked the best mortgage lenders out there. No statues, no gowns and no crazy after parties, but its awards aren’t without the possibility of controversy. Its list is an interesting one, as Nerdwallet itself confesses that several of these lenders compensate the website, but promise they can’t buy favorable reviews. 

So with that grain of salt, tied with LenderFi as the top lenders to refinance. Best online lender is NBKC bank which also tied with Bank of America. Both Better and NBKC are listed as advertisers to the site. (Click here to review their disclosure under the “mortgages” section.)

Vishal Garg, CEO and founder of said in a release that his company’s simplification and digitalization of the mortgage process is driving growth and borrower satisfaction, but that the industry could use even more modernization: “Even in 2020, nearly 60% of loan files have between 500-2,000 pages of paperwork [this link is from 2014], in addition to trip after trip to brick and mortar banks, an opaque pricing structure that many homebuyers don’t understand, hidden costs, and jargon.”

A couple of notables from the list are:

  • Best VA lender: Veterans United and Navy Federal (tie)
  • Best FHA lender: Fairway Independent
  • Best HELOC: Citi
  • Best Jumbo: PNC and BofA (tie)
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