Since mortgage lenders are business people, they must first determine if you are creditworthy before approving a mortgage loan. To do that, they need to examine your past credit history and look at your current financial status to minimize their risk in offering what is typically the most expensive purchase a person will ever make. One of the tools they use to make that decision is your credit score, and if it’s not where you’d like it to be, there are a few things you can do to increase your score.

Contrary to what you may have seen in magazines, in your email inbox, and on late-night TV, there really are no quick fixes that instantly repair your credit. It will take time and continued effort on your part to do so.

When calculating a credit score, mortgage lenders look at five sections of your credit report. They look at your past payment history, the amount you currently owe, how long you’ve had credit, the types of credit you’ve received, and any new credit you’ve applied for. Here are some suggestions for improving your credit score if there are one or two weak areas on your report.

First, try to keep your debt burden to a minimum. A high debt-to-income ratio will lower your credit score. If you have debt, pay it off instead of switching from credit card to credit card. However, if you have a card with a lot of available credit and another card that is nearing the limit, it makes sense to change some of the balance. You don’t want any credit card with a balance close to the credit limit. Any maxed out line of credit drastically lowers your score.

Then stop making late payments. Some people are indifferent when it comes to paying bills, but if you have overdue bills, make them pay and keep them current from now on. If you have bills that you know you’ll have trouble paying, contact that creditor right away and work out a payment plan that will help keep negative information off your credit report. If you don’t have the proper comments on your credit report, contact the lender and ask them to remove the negative report since it is now up to date.

There isn’t much you can do about the length of your credit history. All you can do is make sure your record from now on is perfect. Time is time, and there is no way to change or speed it up.

If you decide to open a new charge account, do so sparingly. Don’t open multiple new accounts hoping to increase your score. In most cases, new credit will not increase your score and, in fact, may do more harm than good. If you have had payment problems in the past but now you are more stable, it will help to open some new accounts, but if you get one, pay on time and don’t use it up.

If you can, try a combination of different types of loans, such as installment loans (car loans, for example) and credit card debt. Fixed-payment loans can help raise your score if you stick to your end of the deal as agreed, but you don’t want too many of these loans, because fixed payments will lower your debt-to-income ratio.

There are ways to improve your chances of getting a home loan, even if your past track record has been less than stellar. However, there is no quick way out. It will take time and a concerted effort to raise your credit score enough for your lender to consider you a good risk.