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bglemaker

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will paying off small collections damage my credit score in the short term?
I have a few small collection accounts and am trying to fix my credit so I can purchase a house within the next 9 months. will paying off these small accounts hurt my credit score or improve it?

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It depends.  If these debts are near the SOL in your area and/or are about to fall off your credit report, then paying them will actually renew their visibility for up to 7 years so while it might not hurt your credit report *more*, it won't help it improve in the short term any faster.  However, if this is not the case...

Then it is hard to say.  It depends on how they'll report it to the bureau's.  On rare occasion you can get a "pay for delete", essentially settle a payment with them and have them remove it from the reports.  More often than not, you get a "paid settlement" or "paid in full", but the collections and/or missed payments from before will still be visible.

If I had to just take a guess without more information and details, paying them won't damage your score, but it won't immediately help it.  However, letting them linger longer if you can afford to pay them off is not good for the long term.

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