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NAR voices support for bills in favor of alternatives to FICO

by Rachel Popa

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Earlier this month, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) expressed their support for two bills that aim to make it easier for consumers to build credit and secure a mortgage.

The first bill NAR expressed support for is H.R. 4172, “The Credit Access and Inclusion Act of 2015,” which was introduced by United States Representatives Keith Ellison (D-MN., 5th) and Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA., 8th). The act seeks to amend the “Fair Credit Reporting Act” by allowing utility providers like gas, electric and telecommunication companies to report consumers’ payment histories to credit reporting agencies. That way, rural, minority and first-time homebuyers would have an easier time building credit and receiving a loan, according to a written statement from NAR.

“More than 40 million ‘thin file’ Americans have trouble accessing affordable credit,” wrote Tom Salomone, president of NAR, in a letter of support for the “Fair Credit Reporting Act.” “NAR is pleased that by amending the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, low and moderate income individuals would be able to access affordable and responsible financial products and services to build wealth.”

The “Credit Access and Inclusion Act of 2015” was originally introduced to the House Committee on Financial Services last December, and has since been introduced to the House of Representatives.

NAR supports alternative credit scoring models

NAR also endorsed H.R. 4211, the “Credit Score Competition Act of 2015,” which was introduced by U.S. Representatives Edward Royce (R-CA., 39th) and Terri Sewell (D-AL., 7th). The “Credit Score Competition Act of 2015” would help families achieve homeownership by requiring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to update their requirements so lenders could use other credit scoring models. Current credit scoring models, such as FICO, do not take into account whether or not borrowers have paid their rent or utility bills on time, which poses problems for consumers without access to traditional forms of credit, as we’ve reported on in the past.

“A borrower’s credit score is a critical access factor when trying to enter the housing market,” Salomone wrote in a letter to Reps. Royce and Sewell. “With a poor score, or none at all, a borrower stands little to no chance of obtaining a loan.”

The “Credit Score Competition Act of 2015,” like the “Credit Access and Inclusion Act of 2015,” was introduced to the House Committee on Financial Services last December, and has moved on to the House of Representatives.

The “Credit Access and Inclusion Act of 2015” and the “Credit Score Competition Act of 2015” are just two solutions for those with “thin files.” An alternative to FICO that is currently available to consumers is SoFi, a lending platform that approves applicants based upon whether or not they historically pay their bills, and if they make more money than they spend.

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