Maybe you’re renting in an overpriced neighborhood and are sick of writing a huge rent check. Maybe you’re living in a yurt and miss having normal walls. Wherever you wake up, the same thought runs through your head every morning: “I want to buy a house!” But perhaps that want hasn’t yet translated into how to actually go about buying a house. That’s where this handy checklist on preparing to buy a home comes in.Step No. 1: Boost your credit scoreWhat do these three numbers have to do with buying a home? Well, pretty much everything. Your credit or FICO score—which reflects how dependable you are at paying bills—directly affects the interest rate on your mortgage and the amount of your monthly payments.Most lenders require a minimum score of 620 for a mortgage (the U.S. average is 687), so you’ll want to do everything to lift your number before applying for a mortgage. The things that drag down the score include carrying an excess of debt, missing bill payments, or applying for too much credit. So can plain old mistakes.