I'll try to answer your questions; hopefully a lender will jump in here to fill in the blanks.
Credit checks done by a lender or car dealer, for example, within a 30 day period of time (I believe) won't ding your credit. It'll count only as one inquiry, and one inquiry is usually a 5 point reduction.
I like my buyer/clients to check their own credit and give a copy to the lender they choose to prequalify them for shopping purposes. Later, once they've found a house and are shopping in earnest for their loan, they can have their credit checked by their lender. Note that some lenders insist on their own credit checks before the'll issue a letter.
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All the preapproval process does is let you know if a lender is willing to loan you money for a mortgage and how much they are willing to lend you. It does not affect your credit score. They'll also explain to you different financing options and their pros and cons. REALTORS ask for this letter beforehand so they are not wasting their time and money showing you properties that you cannot afford.... more
Yes, be completely honest because more times than not, it will come back to bite you. If you had issues with your home, buyers like to see that the problems have been resolved. Even if you think it is unimportant, note it on the disclosure. The more information, the better.... more