Having a good credit score is the most important thing. It used to be an apple a day, four glasses of milk, or eight glasses of water, wrong! Sure that’s important for your health, but your creditworthiness is just as important. Not having good credit makes it virtually impossible to attain home ownership, a car or anything that requires long-term repayment. And, choosing the right credit repair company is also vital. Can I tell you a secret? You CAN repair your credit yourself, but I will share why it’s best to seek professional help.

The best thing to do before you endeavor the gigantean task of repairing your credit, is to understand the intricacies of your credit report. And when you see it, it’ll look like an engineering chart of the Star Trek Enterprise. So it’s smart to find a credit restoration specialist to help you understand the numerous hard inquiries, stale accounts, and any inaccuracies posted on your credit report.

Be careful where you get your credit report. If you get it from a mortgage banker or car finance manager, this is known as a hard inquiry and will drop your score 2 to 3 points and stay on your report for over a year! Really? Every time you apply for credit, an inquiry is noted on your credit report. This normally isn’t a big deal, and counts for just 10 percent of your FICO score. That said, too many inquiries in a short period of time makes you look like you’re desperate for cash, and it might turn a bank off from lending to you. Make sure you have as few inquiries as possible as you prepare to buy a home. And stay away from free sites because those don’t disclose your credit scores or all lines of credit. CreditKarma.com is free and will give you a score, but it’ll only give you your TransUnion score. You can use CreditKarma.com to gauge where you are generally. But if you want specifics, and an affordable credit report that won’t hit your credit report, visit creditscore.com or identityguard.com.

You also want to keep your balances low. This is the primary thing mortgage lenders look at. This is known as the debt-to-income ratio. Also, don’t close any credit card accounts once you paid them off! Showing an older account actually improves your score, whereas closing accounts will narrow and damage your debt to income ratio. Keep using your credit cards to make everyday purchases (e.g., groceries, gasoline, etc.) and pay the full balance when you get your statement. This basic strategy will help significantly as you’re restoring your credit.

As I noted before, you can repair your credit yourself, but there is a great risk or possibility of being ignored by your creditors and the credit bureaus. Choosing the right credit repair solution then becomes paramount, but most credit repair companies just send letters on your behalf—having the same minimal impact. So keep it real and find the credit repair consultant, credit counselor, or credit restoration specialist that work closely with attorneys. Having an attorney representing your creditworthy interests will be the secret to your credit repair success.