Even if your credit score is high enough to obtain a mortgage for your new home purchase, it doesn’t mean that you should leave well enough alone.
There are many reasons to improve your credit score before applying, including the following:
- To improve the likelihood of an approval
- To secure the lowest possible interest rate (which can save you thousands of dollars)
- To reduce the amount of time that it takes to find a lender
With that out of the way, it’s time to answer the million-dollar question: what’s the best way to improve your credit score before applying for a mortgage?
No two buyers are dealing with the exact same circumstances, but here are some basic steps you can take:
1. Eliminate Debt
Yes, this is easier said than done, but any progress you make is better than no progress at all.
For example, rather than make the minimum payment on your credit card, double this number to speed up the payoff process.
2. Dispute Credit Report Mistakes
The last thing you want to find on your credit report is a mistake. But on the plus side, this is something you can take care of. Doing so can result in an immediate boost of your credit score.
Carefully review your credit report with a focus on anything that doesn’t look right to you. If there’s any type of mistake — such as an account you didn’t open or a past due balance that has been paid off — file a dispute.
3. Don’t Take on More Debt
Applying for credit can drag down your score. Just the same, when you take on more debt, your debt to income ratio will rise.
If you’re serious about applying for a mortgage, you must also be serious about keeping your spending in check.
4. Ask for a Higher Credit Limit
A higher credit limit on your credit cards can have a positive impact on your credit score. This is the result of reducing your overall credit utilization ratio. Even if it’s only $500 or $1,000, it can help.
5. Don’t Close Unused Credit Card Accounts
It’s tempting to do this, but it’ll actually cause more harm than good to your credit score — especially in the near term.
Rather than close unused credit card accounts with zero balance, leave them open. You don’t have to use the account. You just want the available credit showing on your credit report.
Don’t let your credit score stop you from buying your dream home. Instead, take the steps above to improve your odds of a loan approval.
Once you have a pre-approval letter in hand, it’s much easier to pin down your budget and search for homes in your price range.
What was your credit score when you applied for your last mortgage? Did you run into any trouble as a result?