How to prepare for a new mortgage application

Lisa Parker
March 21, 2023

Get your paperwork organised

Lenders will need to see proof of income and identification before they can offer you a mortgage, so it makes sense to get your paperwork together in advance. Sending everything in one batch can help speed up the process as the lender should have all the information they need to hand.

Many lenders won't accept internet bank statements printed out at home, so you may need your bank to send you original copies. It’s worth asking for these a few weeks in advance in case you need to wait for them to arrive.

Your lender may want to see any or all of:

• Your last three months' bank statements
• Your last three months' payslips
• Proof of bonuses/commission
• Your latest P60 tax form, showing income and tax paid
• Your last three years' accounts or tax returns (if self-employed)
• Proof of deposit (e.g. latest 3 months’ savings account statements)
• ID documents (usually a passport or driving licence)
• Proof of address (e.g. utility bills or credit card bills)
• A gift letter; If you're receiving help with your deposit, the lender will need a letter from the person providing the gift explaining that they won't part own the home and that it’s not a loan.

Register on the electoral roll

This is the quickest and easiest part of preparing for a mortgage application. Being on the electoral roll at your current address is important because lenders often use the electoral roll data to help identify you, and being on the electoral roll will also help your credit score.

If you’re not currently registered you can join here.

Stay out of your overdraft

If you're constantly in your overdraft this can be a worry for lenders. In fact, some lenders may not accept you if you’ve been in your overdraft at all in the last three months.

Don't apply for credit shortly before making a mortgage application

Try to avoid applying for credit in the three months before getting a mortgage - it could impact your credit score, and taking out new loans or increasing your credit card balances is likely to reduce the amount you can borrow. Some recommend at least a six-month gap, to be absolutely safe.

If you need to apply for credit, it's unlikely that one application will hurt all that much, as long as it's affordable. But if it's a payday loan, some lenders will decline you for a mortgage if you've had one in the past year.

It’s also strongly advised not to take out any new credit between your mortgage offer being issued and completing on your new home. If you do so you will need to inform the lender, which could result in them changing the amount they’re prepared to lend you.

Manage your payments and spending

If you have an existing credit card or loan, it’s important you keep up with the minimum repayments and try not to get too close to your credit limit. Missed or defaulted payments, County Court Judgements (CCJs), payday loans, and clear betting patterns on your bank statements can all lower your chances of getting a mortgage. If the current climate means you’re struggling with repayments, speak to your lender about a payment holiday. This shouldn’t affect your credit score as long as you agree it with them up front.

It’s always worth adding to your savings if you can, even while you’re still looking for a property. It’s important to keep any savings in your own accounts and not to give them to friends and family for safe keeping.

Don’t forget, there could be other fees to consider when buying a new home, such as Stamp Duty and solicitors’ fees. Remember to take these into account when working out your overall budget.

Check your credit report before you apply

Lenders want to see that you're able to manage your finances before they decide to offer you a mortgage. One way they do this is by checking your credit file to see if you have a good payment history.

Your credit file lists your current and previous credit cards, loans, overdrafts, mortgages, mobile phone and now some utility payments, going back over the last six years. There are three main credit reference agencies in the UK, and several companies offer ways for you to see your report and score for free. The three main agencies are

Experian – You can sign up for a 30 day free trial with them here

Equifax – Clearscore offer free access to your Equifax credit report – you can sign up here

TransUnion – TotallyMoney offer free access to your TransUnion credit report – you can sign up here

If you think your credit file information is wrong, you can raise a dispute to get it corrected. In the first instance try contacting the company that registered the error on your credit file, although some of the services above do offer the facility to query entries too.

People who are financially linked to you could affect your credit score  

You can become financially linked, or associated, with someone if you take out or apply for joint credit, such as a bank account, mortgage or loan. Because there is a link, lenders will consider the other person’s credit history when you apply for your new mortgage, so any missed payments or defaults they have could impact your chances of being approved.

If you're now separated or no longer have a relationship with them, make sure you’ve closed or had your name removed from any joints accounts so you’re not linked to them financially going forward.

It’s also worth writing to the credit agencies and asking for a notice of 'disassociation'.

Consider how you’ll protect your new mortgage

Your new home and taking out the all-important mortgage is just the start - it’s a good idea to think about what may happen if things don’t go to plan.

Protection is all about ensuring that you and your family can continue to afford the mortgage no matter what happens in the future, giving you choices and options on how you deal with life’s ‘less welcome’ surprises. Life cover, critical illness cover, income protection or perhaps a combination of these, can mean future security.

As part of our fee free service, we aim to speak to all our customers about their protection needs and options, so once you’ve received your mortgage recommendation, we ask if you want to be transferred to one of our expert protection advisers – you can also speak to a protection expert at any time It’s a good idea to be prepared for this conversation - finding out whether you have existing cover with your employer or privately, is a great first step.

If you have cover, check exactly what you have, when it will cover you and how long for. We’ll then discuss how this existing cover will fit with your new mortgage and any additional needs you have now or in the future

If you don’t have cover, prepare for the conversation by noting down whether you have a sole or joint mortgage, have children or other dependents and thinking about ‘what if scenarios’ such as if your income stops, do you have a fall-back plan? There are a range of protection options to make ‘plan B’ affordable and our protection experts can help find the right solution for you

Once you’ve got all of that in place you’re ready to get started!

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