Now that you're a committed couple, one of the last things you want to do is to pay rent forever instead of building equity in a home of your own. When you're going to be in a particular city for at least a few years, buying a home there is usually a financially savvy choice. Because a mortgage is such a big loan, it's important to raise your credit score as much as you can before applying. That way, you'll get the lowest possible interest rate. This not only lowers your monthly payment, but also decreases the total cost of interest.
Get your credit reports for free through the Annual Credit Report website. You are eligible for a free report from each bureau each year.
Check all of the reports for errors and dispute any errors you find using the instructions provided on the credit report.
Call any lender that reported a late payment on your credit report and ask to have your account re-aged. If you have made at least one year of on-time payments since the late one, the lender will often erase the past late payment from your credit report, and that could boost your score.
Make payments to get current on any accounts listed as currently past due. Although this won't erase the late payments, it will reduce their negative impact on your credit score.
Pay down your balances on your credit cards to decrease your credit utilization ratios. Ideally, your balance on each card should be no more than 30 percent of that card's credit limit.
Call your credit card companies and ask for credit limit increases. Having a larger limit is another way to reduce your credit utilization ratio.
Use old credit cards to make small purchases and pay them off right away. Inactive credit card accounts do not factor as highly into your credit score, so posting some activity will ensure your years of credit history count to their full potential.
Do all of your rate shopping for a mortgage during a two-week time period so all of the credit inquiries related to the mortgage only count once on your credit report.
- A credit score of 760 or higher generally qualifies you for the best mortgage interest rates. Once your score has reached that point, further improvements won't have an impact on your rates.
- Getting married doesn't change your credit scores or give you a joint score. Check your individual scores and work to improve each of them, because they'll both count on your mortgage.
- Wait to take on additional debt until after you buy the house. Adding a new credit card or car loan to your credit report just before getting a mortgage will put a significant dent in your score.
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