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.