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A home is the biggest purchase most Americans ever make—and a home mortgage is the biggest loan most of us will ever take out. So shouldn't your mortgage show up on your credit report? Generally, it will—but there are some situations where your mortgage may not appear on your report. Your mortgage may not show up on your credit report if your lender doesn't report to credit bureaus, if your mortgage is new and hasn't been reported yet, or if there's an error on your loan paperwork, among other reasons.
To understand why your mortgage might not show up, it's important to know how credit reports work. A credit report is a record of how you use credit, based on factors such as the amount and type of debt you carry and whether you pay your bills on time. Each of three major credit reporting agencies—Experian, TransUnion and Equifax—compiles a credit report on you based on information provided by your creditors and other sources. Whenever you apply for a loan, credit card or other type of credit, lenders can look at this report to assess your creditworthiness.
Reasons Why Your Mortgage Might Be Missing From Your Credit Report
There are several possible reasons your mortgage might not show up on your credit report.
- Your lender doesn't report to the credit bureaus. Lenders are not required by law to report to credit bureaus. Although most major banks and financial institutions do report, some (generally smaller lenders) do not. Some lenders report to one or two of the major consumer credit bureaus but not to all three.
- The mortgage is only in your spouse's name. Unless your name appears on the mortgage, the mortgage will not show up on your credit report, even if you are married and live in the same house. Unfortunately, changing this generally requires refinancing your loan, a costly and time-consuming process.
- There's an error in the loan papers. Rarely, a simple mistake when filing loan paperwork, such as a misspelled name, can keep your mortgage off your credit report. You might also have a problem if your mortgage is in a different name than you normally use. If you just got married and took out a mortgage under your new, married name, for example, or if you're a Junior but your mortgage documents don't include that suffix, your mortgage may not show up on your credit history. When applying for a mortgage, make sure to use identity info consistent with what's on your credit report.
- There's a delay in reporting. Lenders typically report to credit bureaus every month. However, it generally takes 30 to 60 days for a new or refinanced mortgage account to show up on your credit report. At times when a lot of people are buying homes or refinancing, it could take up to 90 days.
- You chose a nontraditional financing method. For example, if you purchased the home directly from its previous owner and are making payments to them (known as seller financing), your payments won't be reported to a credit bureau.
How to Add Missing Mortgage Payment History to Your Credit Report
What if your mortgage information isn't on your credit report and you've checked all the possible reasons above? Start by contacting your mortgage company to verify that they report to the credit bureaus. Individuals cannot report information to credit reporting agencies, so the only way your mortgage payment history can be added to your credit report is if your lender reports it.
If the lender has been reporting to the credit bureaus and they have the correct information about you, such as your name, Social Security number and other identifying details, ask them to contact the credit bureaus to find out why the mortgage isn't appearing in your account.
How Does a Mortgage Affect Your Credit?
As one of the biggest debts you'll ever have on your credit history, a mortgage can greatly impact your credit, either positively or negatively.
Your credit score may dip right after you get a mortgage, because you're taking on a big debt and haven't yet shown that you're making payments in a timely fashion. In addition, when you apply for a mortgage the lender makes a hard inquiry into your credit, which can cause a small, temporary decline in your credit score.
After you start to make regular mortgage payments and prove you can handle the loan responsibly, your credit score should begin to rise. However, because your payment history is the single biggest factor in your credit score, just one late payment can have a major negative impact on your credit.
The more mortgage payments you miss, the more damage you'll do to your credit score. After 120 days or four consecutive missed payments, many lenders will foreclose on your home. As if losing your home weren't bad enough, foreclosure results in a serious derogatory mark on your credit report and remains there for seven years, and can make it tougher to get another mortgage or other credit in the future.
If you've missed a mortgage payment, you may still have time to protect your credit. A late payment typically won't appear on your credit report until 30 days after the due date. If you make a payment after your due date but within that 30-day window, you'll have to pay a late fee to the lender, but the late payment may not be reported to the credit bureaus, so it won't affect your credit score.
If your payment is already more than 30 days past due or if you're worried about making your next mortgage payment, reach out to your lender to see what your options are. Suffering a short-term financial setback? You may qualify for a relief program such as mortgage forbearance, which temporarily pauses or reduces your mortgage payments so you can get back on your feet. Due to the widespread financial hardship caused by COVID-19, many lenders are offering such programs right now. If you think your financial situation has permanently changed, you can explore long-term options such as mortgage modification, which allows you to adjust the terms of your existing loan, or refinancing your loan with a different lender to lower your payments.
To avoid missing payments on your mortgage, put a reminder or alert on your phone or calendar to give you plenty of advance notice before your mortgage is due. Setting up automatic payments through your bank or mortgage lender can help to ensure you never miss a payment. Just make sure you'll have enough money in your account to cover the payment.
Using Mortgage Payments to Build Credit
Paying your mortgage on time every month can help to build good credit. To make sure your payments are being reported to credit bureaus, check your credit report for free to see if your mortgage is listed in your accounts.
Consider setting up free credit monitoring so you can keep tabs on how paying your mortgage affects your credit score over the long term. You'll enjoy the satisfaction of owning your own home—and potentially improving your credit score at the same time.