Make sure your credit is excellent
A mortgage shopper's most important move is to request a credit report and make sure it is accurate, according to Cindy Tessier, manager of mortgage processing and closing for Navy Federal Credit Union in Vienna, Va.
Tessier says lenders look to a borrower's credit score when deciding what interest rate to charge, so maintaining a high score is especially important.
"If there is anything negative on your credit report, you need to call the creditor to correct it or to work out a payment plan," Tessier says. "When you apply for a mortgage loan, be sure to provide documentation of any negative accounts, especially if this is something in dispute."
Once the error is corrected, go back to the credit reporting agency to see if the negative item has been updated.
Financial experts also recommend paying off collections and credit card balances before applying for a loan.
Todd Dal Porto, a national sales executive with Bank of America Home Loans, says, "Keep your debt low and the amount of credit you're using under 20 percent of what's available to you. Always paying your bills on time is one of the best ways to maintain healthy credit."