We share the ten key steps you will need to take in order to buy your first home.
If your credit history is not perfect, we can still talk with you about the possibility of arranging a mortgage.
In the meantime, there are some simple steps you can take to improve the chances of having your mortgage application approved;
- Cancelling unused credit cards - access to too much available credit, even if it isn't used, can be a problem. If you have a range of unused credit cards and lots of available credit, it could be a good idea to cancel some of them. This lowers your available credit and should help.
- Try not to withdraw cash on credit cards - this is expensive to do, as interest is higher and you're charged it even if you repay in full each month. Crucially, many lenders may see it as evidence of poor money management skills.
- Making payments on time - even if you're struggling, try not to default or miss payments. If you are in difficulties, the cliché "contact your lender" is a good one. Changing your repayment schedule is preferable to you defaulting.
- Saving regularly with a lender – use savings to pay off debts if you have them. This is particularly relevant if you're applying for a mortgage – the less you're borrowing in proportion to your house's value, the better deal you may get.
- Check your credit file with one of the three main credit reference agencies: Experian, Equifax and CreditExpert - Once you have a report of your file (there will be a small fee), check to make sure all the details are correct. Contact the agency if you have any queries, or need to put something right.
- Check for errors on your credit file - this could lead to you being rejected for a loan, mortgage or credit card. If there is a mistake, contact the lender and the credit rating agencies. If they fail to respond within 8 weeks, you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, which is free to use.
- Registering to vote - if you're not on the electoral roll, it's unlikely you'll get any credit, so sign up immediately. Don't wait for the annual reminder! You can apply at any time on the Gov.UK. website.
- Not eligible to vote in the UK? Add proof of residency - If you aren't eligible to vote in the UK so can't be on the electoral roll (mainly non-Commonwealth and non-EU foreign nationals), send all three credit reference agencies proof of residency (utility bills, a UK driving licence) and ask them to add a note to verify this.
- Check addresses on old accounts - this may sound strange, but a wrong address can have an effect. If you had, for example, an old mobile phone contract or credit card that you don't use any more, but still listed as active on your credit reference files, then check the address is your current one.
- If you've separated from someone, ensure you financially delink - if you split up with someone you've had joint finances with (or just moved out from your flat share), once your finances are no longer linked, write to the credit reference agencies and ask for a notice of disassociation. You can also call up or find the forms online.