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6 must-do's before buying a home

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Strengthen your credit score
Strengthen your credit score | Westend61/Getty Images

Strengthen your credit score

The higher your credit score, the lower your monthly payments.

"Below 660 or 680, you're either going to have to pay sizable fees or a higher down payment," says Barry Zigas, housing policy director for the Consumer Federation of America. And that's pretty much the cutoff score for getting a mortgage.

On the other end, a score of 700 to 720 will get you a good deal, and 750 and above will garner the best rates on the market.

Improve your chances by: pulling your credit reports and ensuring you're not being unfairly penalized for old, paid or settled debts. Get your credit report and score today, free and with no obligation, at myBankrate.

Stop applying for new credit a year before you apply for financing. And keep the moratorium in place until after you close on your home.

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