How to Buy a House Part 1: Credit Scores & Budgeting

On this episode of The Dog Tag, our hosts Jim Bob Mickler, VLB Deputy Director for Marketing & Outreach, and Jimmy Smaragdis, VLB Marketing Specialist, talk about the first steps to take when buying a home. Their guests include Elizabeth Robertson, Director of Strategic Products at Gateway Mortgage Group, Marcia Boyer, Loan Officer for Gateway Mortgage Group, and Kim Mangum, Loan Origination Manager for the VLB Veterans Land & Housing Program.

Buying a home can be a very intimidating process, especially if it’s your first time, so we’re going to break it down with some of the most knowledgeable real estate people we know. On this first podcast we’ll cover the first two subjects related to buying a new home: credit scores and budgeting.

We’ll discuss what credit is, why it’s important and how to obtain it. We’ll also go over how to read your credit report and fix any incorrect items, so you can raise your credit score. We’ll also talk about how to budget for a home including how to calculate your desired monthly payment. We’ll get into down payments, closing costs, housing-related expenses, loan terms and much more.

(L-R) Kim Mangum, Jimmy Smaragdis, Elizabeth Robertson, Marcia Boyer & Jim Bob Mickler

Show Notes:

What credit scores and credit reports are and why they’re important. [1:19]

How to read and understand your credit report. [3:35]

How do your different credit scores compare to one another? [5:12]

Correction: In the audio podcast it was stated that mortgage companies show as “mortgages” on credit reports, however, this is not always the case, they may show as “financial.” Most creditor inquiries are grouped as industries. For example, auto loans, dealerships, retail (credit cards), mortgages, etc. When there are multiple inquiries with the same industry it only counts as one hit. That is correct regarding banks and credit unions. If the specific reason code is not there, it just hits as ‘bank’ and can count as multiple inquiries. Normally if it is a bank, they will have a specific mortgage code that would be used. Each industry also has its own set of scorecards. This is why you see different scores for the same borrower all the time. If a borrower has their own credit report pulled, it is considered a consumer inquiry and has a totally different score card.

How to raise your credit score. How to correct errors on your credit report. [6:35]

How long it takes for corrections to affect your credit score. [8:00]

How to determine what you can afford every month for a house payment. [8:43]

What other housing-related expenses to expect when you buy a home. [11:20]

Upfront costs to expect before closing on a home mortgage. [12:04]

Different types of loan terms. [14:36]

What amortization means.[15:58]

Difference between FHA, VA and conventional home loans. [17:07]

Helpful Resources:

Gateway Mortgage Group

Annual Credit Report

Trans Union



Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Contact Marcia Boyer: 817–484–6560 or

  • Stay tuned for our next podcast: How to Buy a House Part 2: Lenders, Mortgages and Real Estate Agents
  • Listen to our previous podcast: Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans

Listen to this podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.

The Dog Tag® is brought to you by the Texas Veterans Land Board. Find more episodes at If you have questions about this topic, or suggestions for other podcast topics, call 1–800–252-VETS or email Visit to find out more about your benefits!