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Improve your chances of getting a mortgage

Improve your chances of getting a mortgage

Category: Mortgages

Updated: 03/04/2017
First Published: 03/04/2017

If you haven't remortgaged recently, you may find that you have to jump through a few extra hoops to obtain a new mortgage. Likewise, if you're trying to get a mortgage for the first time, it's useful to know what can improve your chances of getting that all-important loan.

To help you along, we've compiled a list of the ways in which you can turn yourself into a more appealing borrower:

1. Remortgage before changing jobs

When making a mortgage application, the length of time you have been with your current employer can help determine if you're eligible. As a general rule of thumb, at least 12 months with the same employer is sufficient, but this will vary depending on an individual lender's conditions.

A good idea, then, is to stall any thoughts of that job move until after your new mortgage has been sorted. Incidentally, if you're thinking of becoming self-employed in the near future, consider a mortgage that won't need changing in the near term, as it will be difficult to remortgage during the first few years you are in business.

2. Repay other debts

It's best to get into the habit of repaying credit cards, store cards, catalogue accounts and overdrafts anyway – it'll save you money – but having less of this kind of debt will also increase your chances of getting a mortgage.

Lenders take into account the amount of outstanding debt you have, and the monthly payments you make, when assessing whether you can afford the mortgage. Worryingly, some lenders may even assess affordability using the potential amount of debt you could have, assuming that you have maximum balances on all your cards and overdrafts, instead of the balances you do have.

If you don't use a certain credit card or overdraft, why not close it? Also, try to put all expensive debts onto the cheapest card you have (applying for a new 0% balance transfer credit card will impact your credit score, so leave doing this until the new mortgage has completed) and close the rest, instead of repaying several and having lots of temptations to spend.

3. Check your credit report

It's important to check your credit report before applying for a mortgage as there may be items that have been repaid but appear outstanding, or even fraudulent applications made in your name. Getting this all dealt with prior to applying for a mortgage, before any money is lost, is a simple thing you can do to improve your chances of getting a mortgage.

4. If you already have a mortgage, overpay

If you've got some money collecting little more than dust in a savings account, consider making an overpayment on your current mortgage instead.

If you have a particularly high loan-to-value (LTV) - the amount of mortgage in relation to the value of your home - the mortgage rate is likely to be higher, and it could also make remortgaging more difficult. So, by overpaying, you're reducing the amount of mortgage you have and lowering the level of risk that a lender has to take on, and both of these could work in your favour when a lender is assessing the application.

As an added bonus, by overpaying and reducing the LTV you'll be able to repay the mortgage quicker and will have access to cheaper deals, thereby helping you repay your mortgage more efficiently and cost-effectively.

5. Buying for the first time? Can your parents help?

The explosion of property prices has had a severe impact on how big mortgages are in relation to wages, and securing a mortgage could be even harder as a result.

But while you may be able to afford the monthly repayments, another side-effect of high property prices is that it's really tough saving a deposit, even just 5 or 10%. Enlisting the help of financially-supportive parents can really make the difference, and there are several ways in which they can help:

  • They could help by giving or lending you part of the deposit. Borrowing money from family can sometimes cause trouble though, so be sure to agree repayments that all parties are happy with. Borrowing from family will usually work out cheaper than borrowing elsewhere, and of course, it doesn't appear on your credit report.
  • They could act as a guarantor on your mortgage. This means that they guarantee that the mortgage payments will be made, so they become fully liable as well (although in some instances this liability may be limited to a certain percentage of the mortgage amount). Guarantors normally have to be able to cover their own bills and your mortgage payments.
  • A number of providers offer schemes for families to help get first-time buyers on the property ladder – do your research or ask your lender what the options are – while the Government's Help to Buy scheme is a national initiative that could prove beneficial, too (see below).
  • Your parents could borrow to help fund your deposit. The least preferable option, but an option nonetheless, is for them to take out an unsecured loan. However, this should be thought through very carefully as your parents will be out of pocket, and you may not be able to pay them back in the near term, or at all. You could set up an arrangement whereby you pay this loan as well, but remember that you'll have your mortgage and bills to cover, so you need to consider if this is really affordable for all parties.

With any sort of arrangement where somebody takes a financial interest in your mortgage, we would strongly recommend seeking financial and legal advice.

6. Consider Help to Buy

The Government's Help to Buy equity loan phase allows you to put down a 5% deposit and get a 20% Government equity loan to help fund the rest, meaning you only need to get a 75% mortgage (note: this is only available to new builds up to a certain value). The second phase, the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee was in place between 2013 and the end of 2016, but is now closed to new applications.

7. Keep your house in order

When going through the application process, your property's value will be assessed. If you need to borrow at a high LTV this will almost definitely mean a valuer physically coming around to inspect the property.

It's the same as if you were trying to sell your house – it needs to look its best to command the highest price. So make sure that both the outside and the inside of your property are well maintained. For the purposes of a basic mortgage valuation, they are looking at saleability of the property. The higher the value of the property, the more likely you are to secure a lower mortgage rate.

8. Are you overlooking something?

As well as searching the market for the best remortgage deals, don't forget to check what your current lender could offer. There will often be exclusive deals for you to remortgage to, sometimes with lower fees. The chances of acceptance also tend to be higher – after all, you already have a mortgage with them!

9. Enlist the services of a good mortgage broker

As opposed to going directly to a lender, making use of a good whole of market mortgage broker can improve your chances of getting a mortgage.

A broker will search the market and will have knowledge of lending conditions particular to each lender, which, as well as your personal financial situation, they will take into account before making any recommendations to you.

Beware though: check how much you have to pay for this advice, as fees can vary widely. Make sure you're comfortable with how much the broker's fee is before proceeding.

What Next?

Compare the best mortgages deals

Check your credit report

Speak to a mortgage adviser for the best deal today

Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.