Have a checklist Whether you are a 1st-time buyer or an experienced owner, buying a house requires a “preflight check,” in the words of Barry Zigas, director of housing policy for the Consumer Federation of America. Read on for a checklist provided by Bankrate, including tips on the types of savings you need, plus advice about what matters beyond purchasing a home at its resale value. And if you’re already ready to shop for a mortgage, find the best deal today by talking to your local lenders, mortgage brokers and researching online. Strengthen Your Credit Score “It’s a brave, new world with respect to credit requirements for mortgages,” says John Ulzheimer, credit expert and contributor at CreditSesame. One old rule still applies: The higher your credit score, the lower your monthly payments. “Below 660 or 680, you’re either going to have to pay sizable fees or a higher down payment,” Zigas says. And that’s pretty much the cutoff score for getting a mortgage, he says.