How can I improve my credit?

There’s really no getting around the fact that in order to get the best deal on home financing – and often to even qualify in the first place – your credit must be in good shape. Here’s the good news: even if your score needs a little boning up, there are ways to do that. You just need a little bit of patience and focus in addition to time. Start early so that you don’t have to stress out when you actually go to look for that dream home.

According to MyFico, repairing your credit can be likened to losing weight in that it’s time-consuming and there really is no quick fix. You didn’t accumulate your score overnight, and likewise you won’t fix it overnight either. Responsible management of your money over time is seen as the most likely way to rebuild your credit – but MyFico also breaks that down into actionable steps. Let’s check them out.

First, you need to check your credit report to make sure that the data contained there is current and accurate. Remember that you can get a free credit report on a periodic basis from annualcreditreport.com. Check it carefully to make sure that there are no wrongly listed late payments, that the amounts owed are correct and that there are no accounts listed falsely under your name.

Payment reminders will help you keep track of on-time bill management. Your bank may offer this through its online portal. You can also enroll in automatic payments, but keep in mind that this will only make the minimum payment and is not a way to better learn about money management.

Debt reduction is a longer-term but very positive goal. Your credit report can be used as a base here to see what you owe – and from that point on, make a vow to stop using your credit cards. You can then come up with a reasonable payment plan to get your debt down and eventually erased.

We’ll look at more credit-improvement tips tomorrow.

Dreaming of San Francisco? Cece Blase offers local advice to San Francisco buyers, sellers and owners– and feeds the dreams of those who wish they could live in Tony Bennett’s ‘City by the Bay.’ Call 415-577-0809 or email cblase@paragon-re.com. www.ceceblase.com