Making the decision to buy your first home is exciting. Being prepared to make it happen is crucial. Here are some steps to make the process flow smoothly.

Your credit history and credit score are the biggest factors lenders use to determine whether you’re a risky borrower. As you get ready to apply for a mortgage, check your credit report, and if needed, file written disputes to eliminate errors.

If you have credit cards with high balances, try to pay them down to show that you’re not using all of your available credit, which sends up a red flag for most lenders. If possible, you should keep your balances at 29% of your total credit limit — or less.

It’s also best to avoid opening a lot of new accounts or making big purchases (like financing a new car) right before you apply for a mortgage.

Tip courtesy of Bill Holmes of Front Street Mortgage