10 biggest mortgage mistakes

Not checking and fixing your credit

Checking your credit report with all three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — is free through annualcreditreport.com.

Free credit-monitoring services like those offered by Credit Karma and Quizzle also give customers access to one bureau’s report.

It’s important to examine your credit reports carefully, because any mistakes  — and they are depressingly common — could lead to a higher mortgage rate or even loan rejection.

If possible, check your credit six months to a year before you apply for a mortgage to give yourself plenty of time to fix errors and make changes that will improve your score.

Using less than 20% of your available credit card limit each billing cycle (yes, even if you pay your balances in full and on time), paying down loans with large balances and making all your loan payments on time are easy ways to improve your credit score.

With below-average credit, the only loan you might qualify for is an FHA loan, which has expensive mortgage insurance premiums for the life of the loan.