Consumers should rebuild credit before taking out a mortgage loan

Since the recent economic downturn, many consumers have been having trouble applying for new home loans. As a result, individuals turned to professional credit help to get their finances in order before taking out a mortgage.

While the national average for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages recently topped 5 percent for the first time in six months, having a poor credit history may still be the biggest hurdle prospective homebuyers need to overcome.

"The interest rate is not the key issue for buyers," Keith Gumbinger, of HSH Associates, told CNN. "Increases do not produce a huge deterrent."

However, with interest rates now trending upward, consumers may want to check their credit reports and address errors that could keep them from taking advantage of a buyer's market.

Consumers who obtain a free copy of their credit report from one of three major credit bureaus and review it with a credit repair attorney, can spot questionable harmful errors. In addition, this process can help homebuyers confirm that their credit score is healthy before they make their next home purchase to ensure they're eligible for a low rate.