Mortgage Musts: 7 key steps to get a home loan
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Mortgage rates have plunged to record lows, below 4 percent. That’s great — but only if you can actually qualify for a loan, and that’s not easy. After giving away the store during the housing boom with disastrous results, lenders have tightened their underwriting standards, leaving many would-be home buyers out of luck.

But there are steps homebuyers can take to find the right mortgage and qualify for it. Here are seven:

1. IMPROVE YOUR CREDIT SCORE: A credit score below 620, as measured by the Minneapolis company FICO, will knock most potential buyers out of the running for a mortgage. And even if you can qualify for a loan, lenders reserve their best interest rates for borrowers with the highest credit scores — typically 740 and above. If a bad credit score pushes up your interest rate by even one percentage point, you could end up paying $ 85,000 more over the life of a $ 400,000 loan, according to Tracy Becker, president of North Shore Advisory, a credit repair company in New York state.

To see where you stand, start by checking your credit report, which is available free at, preferably at least six months before you’re ready to shop for a home. You can get a free report once every 12 months from each of the three credit reporting companies — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Make sure there are no mistakes on the re…………… continues on

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