This guide will explain how to apply for a mortgage, the process, and share some top tips. Finding the right adviser to suit your specific needs is crucial. We can help with that too. Let’s take a look at an overview to help you get started.
How do I apply for a mortgage?
- Check your credit score
- Decide if now’s the time
- Work out what you can afford
- Find the right mortgage deal
- Get a mortgage in principle
- Find a property
- Collect all the documents you’ll need
- Make a mortgage application
Step 1: Check your credit score
A mortgage lender will assess whether you’re a good candidate for a loan who can keep up with mortgage repayments. Your credit history is an important part of this risk assessment. So, first things first, check your credit score and try viewing yourself through a lender’s eyes.
You can get a mortgage with bad credit, however, it’s recommended to improve your credit score beforehand. You can do this by:
- Paying off any existing debt
- Ensuring you don’t miss or are late on any credit repayments
- Check and update postal addresses on old accounts
- Avoiding withdrawing cash on credit cards
- Paying your rent on time
Step 2: Decide if now’s the time
Buying a house is probably the biggest purchase most of us will make in our lifetime. It’s a time-consuming and costly process, so ideally this next home is somewhere you’ll live for the long-term. So, you need to be sure – this is essential when preparing to buy. Consider everything from how stable your employment is to what you’re looking for in an area.
Step 3: Work out what you can afford
It might sound obvious, but it’s essential you work out if you can afford a mortgage. This goes beyond the monthly repayments themselves. You also need to factor in:
- Utility bills
- Insurance costs
- Property maintenance costs
- Other household costs
- Living expenses
- Food shopping
Using a mortgage affordability calculator can help here. Enter your annual income and outgoings for a prediction; though bear in mind this is an estimation to be used as a guide only. This can help you set a budget for a property you’re looking to buy. Set one and ensure you stick to it.
Step 4: Find the right mortgage deal
A good mortgage deal isn’t just about interest rates. You should also look at the loan term, as this will determine how much you end up paying over time. There are other things to consider too, such as early repayment charges.
There are many types of mortgage out there; from interest-only to fixed rate. Each has its pros and cons. You need to carefully consider your individual circumstances and make a decision based on what’s right for you, under the guidance of an adviser.
You could speak to multiple lenders and get different quotes. We can help make life easier and take the headache away. We’ll connect you with an experienced adviser who can guide you step by step.
Step 5: Get a mortgage agreement in principle (AIP)
A mortgage in principle is a declaration of how much a lender is willing to lend you to buy a home. It’s not legally binding, however, it can allow you to view properties with more confidence knowing what you can afford.
Some estate agents will only take you seriously if you have one, as it proves you can afford the property you’re looking at. It also helps you appear a more prepared buyer to sellers – giving you a potential advantage.
These typically don’t last more than six months, so if your search takes longer than expected, you may need to reapply.
A soft credit check will need to be performed for this, which shouldn’t harm your credit score. A hard check leaves a footprint, but won’t hurt your score necessarily, unless you’re rejected for multiple applications.
Step 6: Find a property
With an AIP under your belt, you can confidently attend property viewings knowing how much you’re likely to be able to borrow.
Here are some tips to help you find the right property:
- Have a clearly defined search brief
- Avoid delays & wasting time (e.g. be open & communicative)
- Get a property report to gather area-specific insights
Try and view a potential property objectively, through the eyes of a lender. They’ll need to conduct a mortgage valuation survey on it to assess the security of their loan. So, consider whether the area is up and coming and whether the property is likely to increase in value over time. Don’t get blindsided by the ‘nice to haves’ alone.
Step 7: Collect all the documents you’ll need
An adviser, bank or building society will likely need to see:
- Bank statements
- Proof of employment
- Proof of benefits (if applicable)
- Tax returns (if self-employed or you have multiple sources of income)
- Last three months’ payslips
- P60 form
- Passport & driver’s license
Ensure everything you provide is accurate, don’t round anything up or omit important details. It’s most likely these will need to be hard copies. Work closely with your mortgage adviser and ask them what you’ll need.
Step 8: Make a formal mortgage application
Apply for a mortgage after you’ve made an offer on a property and had it accepted. Remember that even with an AIP, your loan will be subject to final checks on the property and you yourself.
Mortgage lenders are in business to lend money, so have to assess risk, when it comes to you (as the applicant) and the property itself. They’re regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and therefore obliged to make affordability checks. They’ll need to work out what would happen if you were to default on your payments.
If your mortgage is declined, try finding out why. Making multiple applications in a short space of time could hurt your credit score. This is another reason why working with an adviser is hugely important.
What happens next?
If the lender is happy, they’ll make you a formal mortgage offer. These are usually valid for six months. It can take around a month to come through, but could be delayed if there are any issues with the valuation or you haven’t supplied certain information.
The process of buying a house can be fraught with difficulties, and the longer it’s drawn out, the more likely it is to fall through. So, ensure you supply all the necessary details and that they’re accurate.
If all goes well, funds will be released on completion day.
What if you’re remortgaging?
If you’re remortgaging, much of the same process applies, e.g. the checks mentioned above. However, offers are usually only valid for three months as opposed to six.
You don’t necessarily have to borrow more money, but can find a more flexible arrangement. Always speak to an adviser to explore your options. They have their finger on the pulse with the best remortgage deals in the market.
Tips for making a mortgage application
Here’s some advice to improve your chances of getting a mortgage and make the process easier in general:
- Saving as high a deposit as possible can help give you access to better mortgage deals, with more favourable interest rates
- Make sure there’s no incorrect information about you on your credit report. If there is, deal with it before applying
- Don’t just go straight to your current bank! You may end up paying more than is necessary
- The devil’s in the detail – always explore your options in-depth
- Ensure you’re on the electoral roll
- It helps to be in steady employment; if you’ve just moved jobs it might be wise to wait six months before applying
- Ask your lender to explain all charges and what they mean
We can connect you with an experienced panel of advisers who can help find the best deal for you. No headache, no obligation – we’re here to help save you time and money.