Mythbusting: How Inquiries Impact Your Score When Shopping for a Mortgage

by Alex Stenback on April 28, 2011

One of the more resilient pieces of consumer-pop-mythology is the idea that a credit inquiry or multiple credit inquires will always and universally screw up your credit score.

As a point of fact, this is not true, and with apologies to George Orwell:

Not all credit inquiries are equal, but some inquiries are more equal than others.

It is true that opening or applying for multiple new credit accounts in a short period of time represents higher risk and may adversely impact your score, but this is not the same as rate shopping, and the FICO scoring model is tuned to recognize and discount ‘normal’ shopping behavior from credit-seeking-binges.

From Myfico.com:

“Looking for a mortgage, auto or student loan may cause multiple lenders to request your credit report, even though you are only looking for one loan. To compensate for this, the score ignores mortgage, auto, and student loan inquiries made in the 30 days prior to scoring. So, if you find a loan within 30 days, the inquiries won’t affect your score while you’re rate shopping. In addition, the score looks on your credit report for mortgage, auto, and student loan inquiries older than 30 days. If it finds some, it counts those inquiries that fall in a typical shopping period as just one inquiry when determining your score.”

So the next time a lender (or anyone else) suggests you avoid inquiries from other mortgage lenders, know that they:

a) Are trying to discourage you from shopping around.

Or

b) Have no idea what they are talking about.

In either case they should be ignored.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura Morton May 2, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Sometimes 30 days is not enough to shop around and nail down the rate you really want. The problem is when you need about 60 days. This is when your score suffers.

[Editors note: This comment is nonsense. It does not and will never take more than 30 days to "nail down the rate you really want" and is great example of how lenders use and promote ignorance among consumers]

John Neil May 10, 2011 at 12:28 am

If borrowers are smart than they will do all of their rate shopping on the same day. Not because the potential credit inquiries will adversely affect their credit score but because rates change on a daily basis (sometimes multiple times in a day) and getting quotes on the same day is the only way to get a true apples to apples comparison between lenders.

Greg Young May 31, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Good insight. It seems like the lending industry should have little tolerance for scare tactics or ignorance.

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