When you apply for a mortgage, your credit history will play a major role in deciding the type and amount of home loan you’re eligible for.
Mortgage lenders will take a look at more than just your credit score, utilizing what’s known as a tri-merge credit report to gauge all your credit data to access your credibility.
This is a different scoring model than the FICO credit scoring system that provides individual reports in the United States.
The report is essentially a combination of your reports from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.
In the guide below, we’ll provide you with all the details you need to know about your tri-merge credit report, how lenders use it, and how you can access the information it contains.
Table of Contents:
What Is a Tri-Merge Credit Report?
As its name suggests, the tri-merge report is a merger of your credit reports from the premier credit bureaus, namely Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
Per federal law, you are guaranteed one free annual credit report, and mortgage companies can use your personal information on your free copy for their needs.
This 3-in-1 report simply brings all three of your credit reports together in one comprehensive packet.
More specifically, it includes your reports from the three agencies above, including your FICO score, a registered trademark of the Fair Issac Corporation.
Sometimes referred to as a residential mortgage credit report or a 3-bureau credit report, this type of report is typically reserved for mortgage lenders because it gives a broader understanding of your credit than purely a consumer credit report.
Lenders in other industries typically only review one of your credit scores in the underwriting process.
Is There a Tri-Merge Credit Score?
While the tri-merge credit report brings your reports together in one place, it does not come with one singular score.
When lenders review your tri-merge report, what they’ll see are your three individual FICO scores from Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.
The majority of lenders use your FICO score when you apply for a loan, but a small percentage of lenders use a different model to analyze tradelines, like the VantageScore.
This score is similar to the FICO, ranging from 300 to 850, but uses its own formula, which can vary a bit.
Interestingly, the credit scores that lenders use to assess your creditworthiness can fluctuate from the scores you see when you use free credit reporting services.
Because a mortgage comes with unique risk factors compared to consumer lending sources like credit cards, some factors are weighed differently when you apply for a home loan.
Regardless, online credit monitoring services can give you a good idea of where your credit stands and how you can work to improve it.
It’s smart to use these services as you can regularly check for changes to your score and see tailored ways to improve your credit and access the best loans.
By checking, you can catch identity theft attempts by noticing new accounts opened in your name.
Why Do Mortgage Lenders Use the Tri-Merge Credit Report?
Have you ever noticed a discrepancy between two of your credit scores when checking your credit online?
Oftentimes, credit reports don’t match one another because reporting is optional, not required, for lenders.
As such, some creditors may only report to one or two agencies, or none at all.
Mortgage lenders use tri-merge credit reports to compensate for these inconsistencies as the tri-merge report paints the clearest picture of your actual credit profile.
It’s also crucial for lenders to be as accurate as possible for legal purposes.
They must be sure that the amount they lend you matches your eligibility, and the tri-merge report gives them a thorough idea of your financial standing.
It especially catches any negative information placed on your public records like tax liens or bankruptcies.
How Does the Tri-Merge Credit Report Affect Your Mortgage Application?
A lot of considerations go into determining your creditworthiness when you apply for a mortgage.
Chances are, your home loan will be the largest singular amount of money you borrow in your lifetime.
As such, it comes with a lot of responsibility. While other factors may come into play, the primary influences on your mortgage application will be:
- FICO score: Short for the Fair Isaac Corporation that created the metric, this score, which ranges from 300 to 850 points, is a key deciding factor.
- Credit report: The lender will also look at the specific elements that make up your individual credit scores, such as your payment history.
- DTI: Your debt-to-income ratio is another big decision-maker. You need to prove to the lender that your income reasonably outweighs your debts.
Where Do Mortgage Lenders Get Tri-Merge Credit Reports?
Tri-merge credit reports can come from a couple of different sources.
In many cases, mortgage lenders like Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, purchase applicants’ credit reports directly from the three major credit bureaus.
There are also numerous mortgage credit reporting companies whose operations are dedicated to compiling tri-merge credit reports for mortgage lenders.
In either case, these reports simplify things for mortgage companies by presenting them with a comprehensive report, one that is easy to read and tailored to mortgage-related risk factors.
Can You Buy a Tri-Merge Credit Report?
Unfortunately, securing a copy of your tri-merge credit report can be easier said than done.
Since these reports are designed with the sole purpose of assisting mortgage lenders in their underwriting process, most mortgage credit reporting companies won’t share them with the individuals applying for home loans.
However, you may be able to get a copy from the loan officer on your case after you apply, though you aren’t automatically guaranteed one before a decision is made.
If your mortgage application is denied, though, you do have the right to obtain a copy of the credit report that contributed to your rejection.
However, you aren’t necessarily entitled to the full tri-merge credit report in any case.
Where Can You Find the Information in Your Tri-Merge Credit Report?
While you might not be able to get your hands on your actual tri-merge credit report, you can access the information found in the report on your own.
Using free or paid credit monitoring services, you can regularly check your credit scores from the major bureaus.
Many of these services only monitor one or two of your credit scores, though, so note that you’ll probably pay more for a service that reports all three scores.
You can also access your scores from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion once a year without doing any damage to your credit score or paying a fee.
Thanks to the Fair Credit Report Act, you can see all three scores once every twelve months at annualcreditreport.com.
If you need to access your full report more than once a year, you’ll have to pay to access the information.
Your tri-merge credit report is an important part of your mortgage lender’s decision-making process. It can be the element that decides the fate of your mortgage application.
Despite its importance for lenders, you don’t need to worry about accessing the report yourself.
With a good credit monitoring service and your right to access an annual credit report, you can easily stay on top of your credit score and the factors that go into it.
If you’re planning to apply for a mortgage, take a few moments to check your credit scores first.
If they aren’t quite as high as they should be, you can hire a credit repair company to improve them or work on improving your borrowing habits to see positive results.
That way, you can get approved and gain access to the best mortgage rates available to you.