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How to Review Your Credit Report Before Buying

By Brandon Cornett

Advanced Summary
This article will educate first-time home buyers on the relationship between credit and mortgage loans, and why a thorough review of one's credit should be part of your home buying process.

The Credit - Mortgage Relationship
Credit and mortgage loans go hand in hand. When you apply for a mortgage loan as part of the home buying process, the mortgage lender will review a number of your financial factors. One of those factors is your credit score, which is derived from your credit report. Basically, the mortgage lender wants to know (A) your credit score, which they will use to assess the risks involved in loaning money to you, and (B) your ability to manage debt.

Reviewing Your Credit
Long before you apply for a mortgage, you take a look at your credit. The idea is to get the "lay of the land" before a mortgage lender puts you under the financial microscope. At the least, this will help you avoid unpleasant surprises. At most, this will allow you to identify errors on your credit report and work to correct them.

Credit reports are maintained by three credit reporting companies. Chances are, you've heard of these companies before. They are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Your credit score is derived from the information found in the three credit reports maintained by the three aforementioned companies.

Getting Copies of Your Credit Report
As part of a thorough credit-review process, you'll need to start by requesting copies of your credit report from the three companies mentioned above. The easiest way to do this is to visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com. This is a joint website managed by all three of the credit reporting companies. By law, you are entitled to one free credit report per year, so you shouldn't have to pay anything if this is your first time.

Looking for Credit Errors
Once you receive your credit report, review it for errors or inaccuracies. Check the personal information to make sure it's correct. Look for loans or other lines of credit that are not yours (possible credit fraud), and anything else that doesn't seem right. If you find an error, visit the website of the company in question to submit a correction request. Or call the company's customer service number and ask how to proceed.

Don't delay in correcting credit mistakes. The process takes time, so start it as soon as you find an error. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), credit reporting companies bear full responsibility for correcting inaccurate credit reports. So don't be shy about asking them to do so!

Credit Report vs. Credit Score
Let's clarify the difference between a credit report and a credit score. When you order your credit report, you won't receive a score. The score is usually determined by the mortgage lender, based on information found in the credit report. So if you want to know your
credit score, you'll need to purchase it separately. You can obtain your credit score by visiting www.MyFICO.com.

Informational websites worth a visit:

My FICO:
www.myfico.com

Credit Advice from the Better Business Bureau:
www.bbb.org/Alerts/article.asp?ID=616

Credit Section of About.com:
www.credit.about.com

Credit Learning Center at Home Buying Institute:
www.homebuyinginstitute.com/credit.php

About the Author
Brandon Cornett is the publisher of Home Buying Institute, one of the Internet's largest libraries of home buying advice. For more tips on
buying your first home, visit http://www.homebuyinginstitute.com

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