How to secure your credit score when purchasing real estate

All the hard work of buying a home and reaching the end of the home-buying process can go down the drain with just one misstep.

While always protecting your credit record is of the utmost importance, maintaining a strong credit score is also essential during loan processing.

As you prepare and gather documents for your home purchase, don’t forget about also protecting your credit score during this critical time. Read on to learn about some easy-to-follow tips that will allow you to uphold your stellar credit score as you take on the real estate market.

Monitor credit report

The first step is knowing.

When you know where you stand, you can then make the necessary adjustments to improve your score.

Credit companies and other financial institutions make it easier than ever to take a glance.

Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, by mandate, offer customers a comprehensive annual credit report that you should take advantage of.

Take your time and review the report with a fine-tooth comb. Make sure everything is recognizable and that the numbers add up.

Avoid opening new lines of credit

When buying a home, a lender will analyze an applicant’s income in relation to outstanding debt.

This ratio will help lenders determine an applicant’s lending readiness.

So, as a buyer, try to avoid opening and using new lines of credit that will upend your debt-to-income ratio.

While a purchase might not tip the scale in any direction, a lender doesn’t really like surprises so standby on opening new accounts until the purchase is signed, sealed and delivered.

Be on alert for scams

The frequency of scam emails, texts and phone calls you encounter only seem to increase these days.

Worse, one slip up can have a devastating effect on your efforts of buying a home.

So learn to recognize phishing emails, calls or other sophisticated attempts to trap your finances. A common-sense approach, like not giving away sensitive information without verifying the identity of the solicitor, will protect your finances and credit.

Freeze credit

This is only to be used when it’s absolutely necessary.

If you suspect fraud, a credit freeze prevents anyone, lenders included, from accessing your credit report.

This credit pause will buy you enough time to figure out what’s wrong, submit a dispute and resolve the issue.

You’ll need to file a freeze with all the major credit bureaus listed above for this measure to be effective.

Get credit alerts

Go the extra mile with credit monitoring and set up alerts that provide more real-time snapshots of where you stand.

Major credit cards and other companies like Credit Karma offer customers free credit monitoring and regular updates in their inboxes every 30 days.

Customers can customize their settings so they receive alerts based on sensitivity. It’s ideal to choose a wide-range setting so nothing slips by that can potentially damage your credit score.

Ready to make offer on dream home? 5 things to know

Once the finish line toward homeownership is in plain view, it’s natural to be overcome by joy and jitters.

If you’re about ready to submit an offer for your dream home purchase, here are some things to consider as you approach the finish line.

Be preapproved

The importance of getting a preapproval cannot be stressed enough.

During the preapproval process, the lender will determine whether the applicant qualifies for a loan and for how much.

A preapproval will not only help establish the buyer’s budget, but it’s a signal to the seller that the applicant is vetted and ready to strike a deal.

A preapproval is like having a world-class runner on your team.

Reduce contingencies

Any major transaction such as buying a home will come with contingencies. They’re great for protecting each party, but they can also bog down the process.

So whenever possible, the buyer should be reasonable with their expectations in today’s red-hot market.

The easier path forward you can create, the better the chances you’ll have for success.

Get feel for neighborhood

In a tight market, buyers are not always finding homes in neighborhoods they both know and desire.

Since buying a home is like buying a neighborhood, it’s vital to check out the neighborhood and learn about what makes it tick.

If the home you’re eyeballing is comparable to other homes in neighborhoods you know, why not give it a chance? Just do a little more digging first to determine if the unfamiliar neighborhood as a whole matches your needs and lifestyle.

Don’t forget closing costs

With all the excitement bubbling up during the final phases of buying a home, it’s easy to lose sight of the closing costs.

Buyers should remember that closing costs represent about 2% to 5% of the purchase price, a cost on top of the financed portion of the transaction.

Review every bottom line number, including the purchase amount, taxes and closing costs, for the full picture of the costs associated with buying a home.

Leave no stone unturned

Again, the excitement of buying a home is overwhelming, as it should be.

Nevertheless, buyers should be mindful and not just gloss over some of the details and fine print.

Home buyers can make more informed financial decisions and plan ahead by accounting for home insurance premiums, utility bills and other miscellaneous costs.