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Greetings, Chris, I think you ought to be safe if you decline permission to do a credit report pull (if you do not give anyone your social security number, for instance) until you are REALLY READY to start credit shopping. I imagine that if you went to a loan officer with your credit report(s) and score in hand (cloaking your social security number) and were prepared to answer any questions regarding income and savings compared to debt, they should be able to give you a reasonable ballpark estimate without affecting your credit score.

You can be a lot lower than 786 and still qualify for the top lending rates, and I am not totally sure how much each credit pull costs you (maybe 2-5 points a hit but others with more knowledge may need to chime in here - where is eudaimon when we need him?). This is one way to get an idea about what you would pre-qualify for without affecting your score for the worse. You also might try asking this question on the Buying or Selling a Home board for another look at an answer. On that board is at least one mortgage broker (dwdonhoff) who could give you further information.

xraymd
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