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For direct online access to VA benefits and resources, create an account here.

Taking advantage of a VA direct or VA-backed home loan is one of the biggest financial moves a veteran can make in their lifetime. While it can payoff in ways that simply can’t be articulated with dollar signs or numbers, it’s important to get each and every detail in line before signing on the dotted, so as to not only ensure that monthly payments are easy and manageable but that your dream house can be plucked from a carousel of many, rather than a few.

So do this one thing, even before you get a COE (Certificate of Eligibility) or find a lender: get your credit report — and make sure it’s clean.

That means going to this website, downloading your own report (it’s completely free and doesn’t affect your credit) and making sure there aren’t any errors or discrepancies. According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, about a quarter of all credit reports contain mistakes that can end a promising home loan process.