Your credit score can be the single biggest factor that affects your purchase of a home. Knowing what affects your credit score and what that score is made of is essential for avoiding nasty surprises when it comes time to meet with a lender.

The more you know, the better you can negotiate and potentially save thousands of dollars over the course of your mortgage.

What is a credit score?

Your credit score is a numerical representation of your credit report, which you can get for free once a year from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion at Be careful of “free” credit report offers from other companies, as they typically require you to purchase other services to obtain your report.

It’s not too early to check your credit score:

“Check your credit as soon as you begin to think about purchasing a property. An alarming number of mistakes and surprises greet buyers. If you find your dream home, you might still be able to get a loan with a minor blemish, but why pay more in your monthly loan payment because of a reporting error. Allow yourself ample time for corrective action and avoid feeling squeezed under pressure. Buyers have paid debts that were not theirs, solely to clear their credit, in order to clear and close a loan. Credit scores matter,” said Deborah “Deb” Madey, broker of Peninsula Realty Group in Red Bank, New Jersey.

What a credit score is made of

Your Credit Score Demystified

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