How Many Times Will You Pull My Credit?
Vice President, Mortgage Lending
You should be mindful of your credit profile throughout the entire process of purchasing a home.
Buying a home can be overwhelming for first-time buyers. Lenders will ask you many questions and have you provide documentation to support your application before granting you a loan. And of course, they will require a credit check.
I am often asked if we pull credit more than once. The answer is yes. Keep in mind that within a 45-day window, multiple credit checks from mortgage lenders only affects your credit rating as if it were a single pull. This is regulated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – Read more here. Credit is pulled at least once at the beginning of the approval process, and then again just prior to closing. Sometimes it’s pulled in the middle if necessary, so it’s important that you be conscious of your credit and the things that may impact your scores and approvability throughout the entire process.
Initial credit check for pre-approval
The first thing I encourage any potential buyer to do is to get pre-approved. Many realtors may not even begin to show you homes until you’ve taken this first step. You can apply for pre-approval online, face-to-face or over the phone. Lenders want to know details such as history of your residence, employment and income, account balances, debt payments, confirmation of any foreclosures or bankruptcies in the last seven years and sourcing of a down payment. They will need your full legal name, date of birth and Social Security number as well so they can pull credit.
Once you find a home within budget and make an offer, additional or updated documentation may be required. Underwriters then analyze the risk of offering you a loan based on the information in your application, credit history and the property’s value.
Credit check during the loan process – maybe
Depending on how long it takes from your pre-approval until finding a home, contracting and then closing, a lot of time could pass. As determined by Fannie Mae guidelines, credit reports are only good for 120 days, so if you get pre-approved then find a home a few months later, your report may expire during the process and need to be re-pulled. Other reasons to re-pull might be to if you cleaned up some debt, removed disputes or had erroneous items removed that could impact your interest rate.
Final credit check before closing
Depending on how recent your initial credit report was pulled and how long your contracted closing date is, a lot of time can pass from the start of the process thru the date of your closing. Since your credit report is simply a snapshot of your credit profile, it’s understandable that things can change and new credit incidents may occur on your history. Lenders pull credit just prior to closing to verify you haven’t acquired any new credit card debts, car loans, etc. Also, if there are any new credit inquiries, we’ll need verify what new debt, if any, resulted from the inquiry. This can affect your debt-to-income ratio, which can also affect your loan eligibility.
This is known as a soft pull. We don’t actually generate new credit scores, and it will not show up as a hard pull on your credit record. If the final credit check results match the first, or if your debts have decreased, closing should occur on schedule. If the new report has increased debt, the lender may ask you to provide more documentation and send your application back through underwriting to make sure you still qualify.
It’s important for buyers to be aware that lenders run this final credit check before closing. If you ever need to open a new credit card or make a major purchase before your loan closes, be sure to contact your lender first to make sure the new debt doesn’t affect your approvability or your closing date.
If you have any questions, contact me here or at 708-531-8324. For more questions we can answer about the mortgage process, check out our Homebuyer FAQ page.