You can use sites like creditkarma.com (which uses TransUnion and Equifax) and freecreditscore.com (which uses Experian) to get free credit scores from all three credit bureaus, free credit monitoring to alert you of any changes to your credit, and advice on how to improve your credit scores.
The key things are to make sure you make your debt payments on time, pay off as much of your debt as possible (except perhaps car and student loans, which tend to have relatively low interest rates), and be careful of closing credit card accounts.
Two people may have the same income, but one may need to save more for retirement or choose to make large private school tuition payments for their kids.
Take a look at your current saving and spending needs to see how much you can realistically afford to pay each month and don't forget to leave some room for the potential "hidden expenses" of home ownership like utility bills, HOA fees if applicable, repairs and maintenance.
A 30-yr loan has lower monthly payments and can be advantageous if you'll make good use of the savings by investing them or paying down high interest debt.
But if you're honestly more likely to splurge the money you save each month with a 30-yr loan, the 15-yr loan could be better since it will cost you less in interest and you'll pay it off sooner.
That's because you could see your monthly payments jump up on a variable rate mortgage if interest rates keep climbing.
On the other hand, fixed rate mortgages start with higher interest rates so it may not make sense to pay more to lock in a fixed rate for longer than you need it.
Consider non-profit credit unions, web sites like bankrate.com and eloan.com, and independent mortgage brokers who can shop around from multiple mortgage companies to find the one that can offer you the best deal.
Once you've gotten pre-approved on a mortgage, find a buyer’s agent experienced in the neighborhoods you're interested in and only look at homes that are within your affordable price range.