How your credit file could help you get a good mortgage deal

Posted by Kiah Phillips in Mortgages on 20 November 2018

How to use your credit report to get a great mortgage deal in 2019

There have been plenty of reasons to get people thinking about making that first leap onto the property ladder in recent months, including Help to Buy schemes, the removal of stamp duty charges for about 95% of first time buyers and an increase in affordable houses being built.

On the flip side, we’ve also recently seen the second increase in the Bank of England Base Rate in 10 years, from 0.5% to 0.75%, which has in turn seen mortgage rates nudge upwards. Taking all this into account, it goes without saying that if you are hoping to buy a home in 2019, getting a good deal on your mortgage is must.

Mortgage applications take a lot of preparation and there are several things that you can do right now to make your application go that much smoother.

Check what mortgage lenders will actually see

As part of the application, your prospective lender will review your Credit Report to see how you have maintained your credit agreements in the past and assess how likely you are to make your payments on time. Typically, the better your track record of making payments on other credit agreements looks, the more likely you are to qualify for the best mortgage products, meaning lower monthly payments and a lower amount of interest paid overall.

As soon as you start thinking about applying for a mortgage (or re-mortgaging) you should get a copy of your Credit Report and spend some time familiarising yourself with this information to see how this could be viewed by potential lenders. If you’re unsure of anything you find, you can always ask our professionally-qualified Credit Analysts for assistance, or read up on it with one of our articles about Credit Reports.

You can improve your overall Creditworthiness by making certain that you are registered on the Electoral Roll at your current address, making all your repayments on time, and simply ensuring that all information held about you is correct. If you do find any errors, be sure to get them corrected as soon as possible. Check that your accounts are all reported correctly at your current address and update any that aren’t with your lenders at least 6 weeks before you intend to make a mortgage application – you will need to provide several forms of documentary evidence as part of the application, including being able to verify that you live at your current address.

We regularly receive queries about how various parts of your Credit Report may effect an application and how to amend any issues that may have been reported. You don’t want to only realise that a missing Electoral Roll listing or an error in your payment history could be harming your credit rating after the application has been submitted, so the sooner you check your credit report the better.

Find a good mortgage rate and deal

Part of securing a good deal relies on your Credit Rating, but the remainder relies on the rest of the information you’ll have to submit as part of your application. The affordability aspect of your mortgage application will examine your income and outgoings in minute detail alongside the credit commitments you already have, to ensure that you’ll be able to afford the monthly repayments on the amount you want to borrow.

With the recent increase of interest rates from 0.5% to 0.75% you’ll want to do everything to make sure you’re not paying more interest than you have to on your mortgage, especially if that’s money that could be reducing the overall amount left to pay on the house.

After all, it's the main component in determining how quickly you will repay your mortgage.

You can do the research yourself, or use a mortgage broker to find the best deal for you. If you’d rather save some money (although you should always try and find a fee-free broker if you go down that route) and do it yourself, getting to know the different types of mortgage available before you apply can be a big help:

Tracker Mortgages

A tracker mortgage varies the amount of interest you have to pay directly in line with the BoE base rate. That means if base rate increases, your interest goes up by the same amount. If the base rate decreases your interest rate will go down.

Standard Variable Rate Mortgages

Standard Variable Rate mortgages may be affected by the changing base rate, but they are not directly linked. The amount of interest in an SVR mortgage is determined by the lender and their own criteria, which may include the base rate without completely relying on it.

Fixed Rate Mortgages

A fixed rate mortgage is not affected by changes to the base rate - these are often marketed as an introductory offer, allowing new customers a set period of at a fixed repayment amount before moving to a different tariff at a higher interest rate. A fixed rate period gives peace of mind, knowing that your repayments won't change in that period. Fixed rate deals might be slightly more expensive than other products as a result. After the fixed period (typically 2 or 5 years) ends, you are free to stay with that mortgage (at a higher rate) or look for a more appealing rate and re-mortgage.

Extra areas to check

If you are a first time buyer and you are looking to buy a property valued at under £300,000, you will not be required to pay stamp duty on your property but don’t forget to look carefully for any additional fees or limitations, such as how much you are allowed to overpay each year.

If you don’t have a large deposit but think you might be able to pay more than your monthly required payments you need to be sure that doing so is permitted within your agreement. Equally, make certain you know the administration fees for your particular mortgage choice before you make your application – these fees can cost upwards of £2,000 so it’s best to check before committing.

Help to Buy Schemes & ISAs

If you have been saving through a Help to Buy ISA make certain you use it as effectively as possible in the last few months before making your application. You can save up to £200 per month and as long as you have more than £1,600 saved before you want to use the bonus, the government will provide 25% of the total to use when purchasing your first home.

Your solicitor will need to make the application for your government bonus, so let them know as early in the process as possible that you will be using your ISA as part of your application. They can then guide you through the process and obtain your bonus on your behalf. The bonus cannot be used for fees, either for the administration or the solicitor, nor can the money be obtained in cash – instead it will simply remove a chunk of your outstanding balance at the start of your mortgage.

Keep an eye out for newly built properties offering Help to Buy schemes and check whether you are eligible for assistance. These schemes can assist you with supplying the minimum 25% deposit that mortgage lenders often require. If you can save 5% of the total cost of the property Help to Buy schemes allow you to borrow up to 20% from the government to assist with your deposit and could be the difference in securing your mortgage offer.

Be prepared

The more aware you are of each part of the application and the impact this will have on your chances the better prepared you will be for any difficulties that arise.

You can’t directly impact every part of your application but by making certain that you do everything you can you will be better placed to make it the year you get good deal on your mortgage.

For the best preparation, make sure you check your Credit Report throughout the process to make sure there’s nothing that will catch you or your mortgage provider off-guard. Checkmyfile offers the UK’s most detailed Credit Report, with information from 4 Credit Reference Agencies, not just 1. You can try our Multi-Agency report completely free for 30 days, then for just £14.99 a month after, which you can cancel online, by phone or by email.

Updated 20/11/2018 by Jamie Mackenzie Smith

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