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5 smart credit steps to take before getting a mortgage

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Thinking about buying a home? Get prepped with these credit steps.

If you’re thinking about buying a home, you may also be thinking about mortgages. Figuring out how much of a mortgage you’ll need and how big of a mortgage you’ll be able to afford are key steps. But getting the right mortgage for you may also depend on your credit health. Here are 5 smart credit steps to take before getting a mortgage.

1.  Start early.

You should always be on top of your credit health, but if you aren’t up to date, start paying attention now. Give yourself plenty of lead time because getting your credit as healthy as possible may take longer than you think. Credit health may play a big role in getting pre-approved and qualifying for low interest rates, so it’s important to pay attention to it as early in the process as you can.

2. Get your 3 free annual credit reports.

If you haven’t already, go to annualcreditreport.com and get your annual credit report for each of the 3 major bureaus: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. You can access these reports once a year, free of charge.

3. Review your reports.

Each of your 3 annual credit reports may have different information than one or both of the others. That’s why it’s so important to read through all 3. When you do, look for any unfamiliar addresses or accounts. Everything listed in each of those reports should at least be familiar to you.

4. Dispute any credit report items, if necessary.

If you find an account that doesn’t look like it’s yours, an unfamiliar address or any other detail you think may not be accurate, contact the listing creditor. If you’re unable to refresh your memory or clear things up, it may be a good idea to file a dispute with the bureau producing report in question. Each of the 3 major bureaus — TransUnion, Experian & Equifax — has dispute information and instructions on its website.

5. Practice good credit habits.

Put your credit in the best position you can leading up to the mortgage application. That means it’s especially important to pay your bills on time and keep your credit usage relatively low. Also, be aware that applying for a new credit card or closing out old accounts could impact your credit score.

Buying a home can be exciting. Getting a mortgage can be exhausting. By planning ahead and paying attention to your credit, you can make both experiences easier and more enjoyable.

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