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What happens when a mortgage lender checks my credit?

Credit checks coming from lenders are reported to the credit reporting companies as an “inquiry.” An inquiry typically has a small negative effect on your credit scores. Inquiries can be seen by other lenders when they check your credit.

Inquiries tell other lenders that you are thinking of taking on new debt. An inquiry typically has a small negative effect on your credit scores. Inquiries are a necessary part of applying for a mortgage, so you can't avoid them altogether. But it pays to be smart about them. As a general rule, apply for credit only when you need it.

Applying for a credit card, car loan, or other type of loan results in an additional inquiry that can lower your scores, so try to avoid applying for these other types of credit right before getting a mortgage or during the mortgage process. Find out more about credit scores.

Does shopping around for a mortgage hurt my credit?

No. Within a 45-day window, multiple credit checks from mortgage lenders are recorded on your credit report as a single inquiry. This is because other lenders realize that you are only going to buy one home. You can shop around and get multiple preapprovals and official Loan Estimates.

The impact on your credit is the same no matter how many lenders you consult, as long as the last credit check is within 45 days of the first credit check. Even if a lender needs to check your credit after the 45-day window is over, shopping around is usually still worth it. The effect of an additional inquiry is small, while shopping around for the best deal can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Can I check my own credit with no effect on my scores?

Yes. When you check your own credit — whether you're looking at your credit report or credit scores — the credit reporting companies don’t treat it the same as a lender making an inquiry. Checking your own credit does not affect your credit scores. If you are applying for a mortgage and haven't already checked your credit report for errors, do so now. You can get a free copy of your credit report at . If you find errors, get them corrected as soon as possible.