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Before deciding on what terms they will offer you a mortgage loan (which they base on their risk), lenders need to find out two things about you: whether you can pay back the loan, and your willingness to repay the loan. To figure out your ability to pay back the loan, lenders look at your debt-to-income ratio. To assess how willing you are to repay, they use your credit score.
Fair Isaac and Company developed the first FICO score to assess creditworthiness. We've written a lot more on FICO here.
Your credit score comes from your repayment history. They do not take into account your income, savings, down payment amount, or demographic factors like gender, race, national origin or marital status. These scores were invented specifically for this reason. "Profiling" was as bad a word when FICO scores were first invented as it is in the present day. Credit scoring was developed as a way to take into account solely what was relevant to a borrower's willingness to pay back the lender.
Deliquencies, payment behavior, debt level, length of credit history, types of credit and the number of inquiries are all considered in credit scores. Your score considers both positive and negative information in your credit report. Late payments count against your score, but a consistent record of paying on time will raise it.
Your credit report should contain at least one account which has been open for six months or more, and at least one account that has been updated in the past six months for you to get a credit score. This history ensures that there is enough information in your report to assign a score. Some borrowers don't have a long enough credit history to get a credit score. They should build up a credit history before they apply.