Life Stages: Prepping Your Credit Before You Apply for a Mortgage
Purchasing a home is part of the American dream. However, with the real estate market crash that began in 2007, lenders have tightened credit standards. That means that if a house is the next step in your many life stages, you'll need to start well in advance to prep your credit and make sure you look like the most reliable borrower possible. Don't make the mistake of letting your credit go unchecked until it's time to get qualified; you could be in for a rude awakening.
Start in advance
The week before you apply for a mortgage to buy a home is definitely not the time to wonder about your credit history. In fact, you should start thinking about your credit score at least 12 months in advance of looking for a home. That's about how long it takes for good habits to start taking effect on your actual credit report, so paying bills on time and keeping credit balances low really pays off.
Pay down smaller debts
While showing that you have ample credit available to you is a good idea, keeping small debts unpaid isn't. If you have the capital available, pay off some of your smaller debts while leaving the accounts open. It's also a good idea to pay down credit that is nearing its limit.
Grab your credit report
You're entitled to a free credit report from all three of the major reporting bureaus (including TransUnion) each year.