When you are searching for a lender it is a good idea to do it all within a thirty day window so your credit score only takes one hit. Some unscrupulous lenders will caution you to not let anyone else check your credit after they do or your score will go down. If your score drops, the further caution, you may not be able to get that good rate anymore that they were promoting.
That's a scare tactic and do not fall for it. Brokers who fear others competition will tell you that you will not shop around. Rather than playing head games with you what they really should be doing is giving you the lowest rate they can and be honest about it. By law, when a lender checks your credit for either the purpose of buying a house or a car, once you take the initial hit, you have thirty days to shop around before you can take another hit. If someone should suggest otherwise, run the opposite direction. Because of this rule it's a good idea to have a list of everyone you want to check your credit already lined up so you can get it done all at once. Do not bother telling one lender to use the credit score and report that you got from another lender; it will not work. Each lender has to own their own report generated by their own computer system and they can not enter another's report and use it. However, if you are considering another lender and you do not want them to check your credit yet, you can always tell them what your last time was it checked. That way they can give you a secure quote. Just keep in mind that the quote they give you will be based on the information you tell them. In other words, if you tell them you have a thirty day late on your mortgage, but it turns out you have two thirty days lates, you can not hold them to the quote they have you. Or if your score drops due to being outside the window, you can not hold them to the quote either. As long as the score you quoted them was from the three bureaus, a tri-merge report, they should be able to give you a quote based upon that report. Just keep in mind that at some point you will have to give them permission to run your report if you want to seriously consider them.
I am often asked how much their score will drop when they have their credit checked, but I really can not tell them, there are just too many variables involved for me to make that kind of guess. Some of those variables are: how many revolving accounts open, how long accounts have been opened, how close those accounts are being maxed out, and how much of their credit is newly received credit. There are other variables as well and as you can see, it would be impossible for anyone outside of one of the reporting agencies, like Transunion, to tell you how much your score will change. In fact I was told by a representative from Transunion who came to our office to educate us that they could not even make an educated guess. It all depends upon a computer algorithm that takes all the variables in account and it's far too complex for anyone to make a real guess.
So, do all your checking in the same thirty day period and you will not have to take more than one hit. Remember, each lender will have to generate its own official report. And, if you check your score on the internet it will not affect your score. Just make sure the report you get is a tri-merged report from the three bureaus, Transunion, Experian, and Equifax. Good luck and happy borrowing.