Let’s be real: Rejection hurts. It’s particularly hard if you’re denied for a mortgage preapproval, which is one of the biggest hurdles in the home-buying process.

Mike and Brittany Delgado know the feeling all too well. In 2013, the couple tried to get a mortgage preapproval and were denied. Why? Mike’s credit report showed no history or FICO score. “This was a surprise to us,” says Brittany Delgado, adding that her husband had paid off old debts, but the couple had never taken steps to re-establish his credit.

“Our lender outlined exactly what we needed to do and told us to start small — finance some furniture or a laptop — and make payments on time to build the credit back up. She warned us it would take a while.”

The Delgados’ experience is…

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Buying a house is exciting, intimidating, and a bit complicated. If you’re like most home shoppers, you’ll spend close to three months just finding “your” home.

It’s an emotional roller coaster. You might find what seems the perfect place, only to learn that it’s way over your target price. And that in-your-budget “fixer-upper” is more like a demolition zone.

But there are some home search hacks you can use to help you buy smart. It all starts with researching your market.

Things you can control, and things you can’t

You’ve no doubt heard the terms “buyer’s market” or “seller’s market.” If you’re house hunting, you want to be on the right side of that equation — in a buyer’s market. Prices are reasonable, there are lots of choices within your…

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