How credit scores compare by stateCredit scores are a curious thing. On the one hand, they say a great deal about us; they indicate, at least to a certain extent, our fiscal responsibility. They’re used by banks, credit card companies, car dealerships, and many other institutions to determine our “creditworthiness.”

What’s strange, then, is how difficult it can be to know just what your credit score is – and how to find it. I’ll give you some suggestions in a moment for how you can get your credit score for free.

For right now, though, let’s put things in perspective.

I want to pull back the curtain just a little bit on the world of credit scores and show you how the rest of the country stacks up and how your credit score compare – even if you don’t know what your own credit score is right at this moment.

[For the full infographic, click here]

How does your score stack up?

The map above provides a bird’s eye view of America, along with its range of credit scores.

What’s immediately striking is just how small that range really is. The lowest credit scores hover around 668, while the highest scores are around 718. That’s a range of only 50 points.

In other words, 50 points is all that separates America’s best credit scores from its worst.

Also of note is the rather subtle shift from the lower credit scores of the south to the higher scores farther north. In fact, the Midwest is home to some of the best credit scores in the country. The shades of green and red you see on the map are only averages, but it still paints a fairly clear picture of our country’s socioeconomic climate – even if may not be precisely what we expected.

What goes into a credit score?

Knowing your credit score is definitely important, but it’s even more important to know what that number means.

The most common credit measurement system is known as the FICO score. It’s a proprietary system, which means the Fair Isaac Corporation – the company that created the metric – has, historically, been rather tight-lipped about the criteria they use to measure it.
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Buying a property is stressful.  Buying an investment property generally means taking your personal tastes out of the decision, but paying close attention to details that will make the home pleasing to future tenants.  Here are some basic tips for buying an investment property.

Get Pre-Approved

Unlike with some personal home loans, investment property mortgages generally require at least a 20% down payment.  Make sure the properties you intend to buy are something that you can afford.  That said, you should attempt to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start the search.  It would be awful to find the perfect investment property but be unable to secure a loan.

Narrow Down Your Options

There are probably hundreds of properties for sale in your area.  It will save you time if you narrow down your options in advance.  Here are some questions that you can ask yourself before you start searching:

What type of property do you want – house, condo, etc.? Are you looking for a single family residence or a multi-family unit? Do you have a specific area in mind? How many bedrooms and bathrooms does it need to have? Is there a minimum square footage that you need? Are you looking for a newer or older home? What areas can be rented out for the monthly amount that you will need to cover your costs?

Once you have those answers and your loan pre-approval in hand, you or your real estate agent can start the hunt.

Close the Deal

Once you find the investment property that will work for you, it’s time to negotiate the price.  It’s stressful to wait for the back and forth communications, but have patience.  This is a property that you intend to make money on.  There is no rush.  Feel free to make offers lower than you would for a home that you intend to live in since there are usually more fish in the sea with investment property.

Once you agree on the selling price, you can start the closing process.  That will mean that you contact you will need to fix the interest rate on your mortgage, go through the final approval process, and sign the closing documents.  This can be as stressful as the price negotiations, but the end result should be owning a property that will make you money overall.

Do you have any specific tips that I missed?  Any pointers for parts of the process?

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