How can I prepare for financing?

1. Credit Report - Contact a credit bureau and get a credit report on yourself, just to make sure your report is accurate. If you do not like what you see, it is time to try to clean up any problem items or clear up any mistakes. You may also want to consider contacting a consumer credit counselor for help.

2. Save Money - Skip a vacation, movie or dinner out to save money for a down payment and closing costs. Try not to buy anything on credit and if you do, pay it off quickly. Try to avoid taking on another large credit expense or even applying for another credit card.

3. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage - It pays to get pre-approved for a mortgage early in the process. Some think pre-qualifying for a loan is enough, but it is not. Pre-approval gives you more power when you have found that perfect house. You know in advance how much you can afford to spend on a home. You have the negotiating power of a cash buyer when you can prove that you have financing in place. You can close in as little as 15 days compared to the 60 days if you are not yet approved. You can lock in an interest rate early for a faster closing and better rate. (Ask your lender about a 30-day rate lock instead of the normal 60 days.)