Your credit score plays a big role in the homebuying process. It can influence what interest rates you’re eligible for, as well as what options you have for loans in general.
If your current score isn’t as high as you’d like, don’t lose hope. You can boost your score and improve your chances of qualifying for a mortgage or a better rate. Here are a few ideas that can help:
- Check your credit report. Credit reporting agencies collect data from a variety of sources, and this info may contain errors. Plus, there’s always the possibility of identity theft. Request a copy of your annual credit report from one (or all) of the three main agencies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — and make sure everything is correct. If you see something that looks off, report the issue to get it resolved.
- Settle any debts in collections. Having an account in collections hurts your credit score. Pay these off as soon as possible, or work with the creditor to set up a payment plan.
- Work toward paying off other debts. Start paying down your debts as much as you can, focusing on high-interest ones first. Your total debt balance has a big impact on your score, so reducing even one account can help immensely.
Additionally, don’t open any new credit cards, take out a new car loan or put extra purchases on your existing cards when gearing up for a home purchase. Though this won’t improve your score, it will keep it from getting worse — and that’s just as important.