Jumping into the housing market? Your credit report should be your first stop.

Sara Gilbert resize

Sara Gilbert, GreenPath manager, CO/WY

Guest column by Sara Gilbert, GreenPath manager for Colorado and Wyoming

Headlines across the country read that the real estate market is making a comeback and many are thinking that now may be the time to buy a home.

One of the most important things you can do if you want to borrow money to buy a home is to improve your credit score. Here are some steps to take.

First, pull your credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com. If you want to see your credit score, you’ll need to pay a small fee. But without paying a fee, you can still look at and print your credit report from Transunion, Experian and Equifax. Review your reports for accuracy. You have a right to dispute any incorrect information.

Make sure you pay your credit card, mortgage and any loan payments on time. Past-due payments show up as a negative item on your credit report, which you surely want to avoid.

Pay off any collection accounts from that show up on your credit report. Paying these accounts will cause an immediate boost to your credit score. Be aware that the account will remain on your report for seven years past the date that it was paid. But if nothing is owed on the account, it is much less of a concern.

Pay off credit card purchases every month when the bill comes. Make it a rule that you won’t charge things that you can’t pay for in full when the bill comes. Live within your means.

By planning ahead, these simple steps could result in your securing lower interest rate, which could translate into thousands of dollars saved over the life of the loan.

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