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Question: We are buyers applying for a mortgage. Our lender yelled at us for getting adepartment-store credit card during the process. I just wanted to save 20% with my back-to-school clothes purchase. Did I mess up our mortgage application?

Answer: While applying for a mortgage loan, you need to essentially freeze any otherborrowing. This includes the simple department-store card, aggressively pushed at thecheckout counter.

When your lender reviewed your application, he crafted your max loan amount basedon many factors. Of importance: your monthly income vs. your monthly debtobligation. A snapshot is taken at the time of your application and then again beforeyour closing. A major debt obligation can throw off your “debt to income ratio,” makingyou ineligible for your mortgage.

A few years ago, we were buying our home but needed a new car. To avoid a problem,we actually rented a car for the summer. Crazy, and expensive, for sure. But we kept ourcredit slate clean for our lender. Once in our home, we hit the dealerships.

Attorney James Haroutunian practices estate planning and real-estate law in Billerica at 790 Boston Road. Contact him to begin an estate plan or with questions at www.hlawoffice.com , 978-671-0711, or email him at james@hlawoffice.com.