Check your credit report. If you haven’t checked your credit report in the past year, you definitely want to take a look now. Consumers can receive three free credit reports a year, one from each of the main credit-reporting bureaus, on Make sure that all of the loans and accounts listed under your name actually belong to you and that the account balances are accurate.  It can take several months to have an error removed from your credit report. So the earlier you look, the more time you give yourself to fix the problem before you start applying for loans.

Maximize your credit score. Boosting your credit score can increase your chances of being approved and help you land a lower interest rate on your loan, says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist of Consumers may have a hard time being approved for a mortgage if their credit score is below 625.  However, with some lenders it is possible but with more fees and interest to be paid.

Lift your score by establishing several habits in the months leading up to the purchase, housing experts say. The first thing to do is to make sure to pay your bills on time since payment history is the No. 1 factor that goes into a person’s FICO score. It also helps to bring down the balances on credit cards to below 30 percent of the available credit.   Hold off on opening or closing credit cards until after they’ve purchased the home. Applying for a new card requires a credit check, which can ding your credit score. And closing a card can also lower your credit score by reducing your credit history or making it seem like you are using a larger share of your total credit.

Read the other steps from this article written by Washingtonpost.

TIP:  Contact a local home loan professional for pre-approval and steps to take as you plan and prepare for a home purchase.