Place a security freeze on your credit reports until you are ready to apply for a loan. Each freeze and thaw costs $5-20. but it is well worth it.
Hire a real estate attorney to represent you when taking out a home loan. They can protect you from mortgage brokers who often have a conflict of interests.
If you do use a mortgage broker, ask and follow up on three references. Find out first how much they stand to gain from any loan they suggest so you are clear about the charges.