If you want to buy the home of your dreams, you’ll need a mortgage. And to secure that mortgage, you’ll need a credit check.

Unfortunately, these checks can harm your credit. But luckily, credit reports remain current for up to 120 days, or just under four months. For many, this is enough time to secure their dream home without hammering their credit health.

But what happens after 120 days? And what happens if multiple credit “pulls” occur in a short period?

The following article will delve into what you need to be aware of with respect to credit reports and mortgage applications. Be sure you read to the end to find out why a lender might need to pull your credit again, even if 120 days haven't passed.

Credit report basics

A credit report is a comprehensive document detailing your credit history and behavior. It’s primarily intended to give lenders, like banks, insight into your creditworthiness.

Credit reports will typically include the following sections:

  • Credit history: Your credit history is the backbone of the report. It details loans you’ve taken, credit cards you’ve used, and any other forms of debt you’ve incurred. It also lists how long each account has been active, the amounts borrowed, and how much you still owe.
  • Payment history: Lenders love to scrutinize this portion of your report. It reveals your pattern of paying debts and whether you’ve made timely payments on your debt in the past.
  • Outstanding debts: This section lists all active debts, including car loans, mortgages, and credit cards.
  • Inquiries: Credit reports record the times businesses have performed a hard credit pull.
  • Public records: Credit reports also include any financial-related legal matters. For example, a report might consist of bankruptcies or tax liens that have been applied.
  • Personal details: This section simply captures your personal information, like your Social Security number and employment details.

What are "soft" and "hard" credit checks?

A credit check (or "pull) is when a third party, like a lender, checks an individual's credit report to assess their creditworthiness.

A higher credit score implies better creditworthiness. Better creditworthiness means the individual has a greater chance of repaying debt obligations, like a mortgage.

As a result, lenders prefer to lend to borrowers with higher credit. It reduces the risk that the borrower will default on the loan.

A soft credit pull is a credit inquiry not associated with an actual credit application.

An example of a soft pull is when someone checks their own credit score. Another example might be when a credit card company assesses someone’s credit health to determine if they qualify for pre-approval.

Soft credit inquiries do not impact your credit score.

Think of a hard credit pull as a more official and thorough credit check, usually, initiated by a financial institution, like a mortgage lender, to determine loan eligibility.

Unlike soft pulls, hard credit inquiries can temporarily lower your credit score. Usually, a record of the inquiry will remain on your credit report for two years.

Credit check implications

Credit pulls are a completely normal part of the loan process. Without them, lenders wouldn’t know which borrowers are most likely to repay.

Unfortunately, credit checks come with a cost. As discussed, hard credit pulls will lower your score temporarily. Multiple hard credit pulls are seen as a red flag by lenders.

Think of it this way: if you were to lend money, would you rather lend to a borrower with dozens of credit checks or one with only a couple?

You’d probably opt for the latter choice. The first borrower likely tried to get a loan at multiple banks but was declined. From a lender’s perspective, all else equal, this represents a risky borrower.

How long is a credit report good for a mortgage application?

Now, after a credit pull is completed, how long does it remain active and usable?

The short answer is 90 to 120 days, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. At times, lenders will need to pull your credit before the four-month period is up.


There are a few scenarios where a credit check may occur before 120 days. In each case, the re-pull results from circumstances that have changed since the initial inquiry.

  • You cleared debts since the previous pull
  • You removed disputed items
  • You have since corrected erroneous items on the report

While credit pulls can harm your credit score, it’s important to note that multiple checks within a 45-day window are treated by rating agencies as if they were a single pull. That means your credit health won’t be beaten up by repeated inquiries, provided they’re done within these 45 days.

How many times will my credit be pulled?

A lender typically performs the following credit pulls during a mortgage application process.

  • Pre-approval: Prospective homebuyers will often seek pre-approval before looking at houses. This lets sellers know they’re serious buyers.
  • Application process: A second credit pull may occur during the actual mortgage application process.
  • Pre-closing: If it’s been over 120 days since your last credit report was pulled, a final credit check may be required before the loan is approved.

So, how long are credit reports good for mortgage applications? Under normal circumstances, 90 to 120 days. However, if you’ve had any changes that can materially affect your credit health, a pull may be needed before this time has elapsed.

Regardless, it’s critical to confirm the exact requirements of your lender. If you have any questions, consider consulting with a financial professional, like an advisor or loan officer.