Getting a mortgage with bad credit can be challenging, but it's not an impossible task. If you're wondering whether you can get a mortgage despite having poor credit, the answer is yes. However, it's important to note that it may be more difficult, and your options might be limited.
When you apply for a mortgage, lenders typically perform credit checks on all applicants. Any negative marks on your credit history will be taken into account. The level of impact will depend on the severity of the incidents and how recent they occurred.
While many mainstream banks may reject your mortgage application due to a poor credit history, there are other options available. Building societies and specialist "bad-credit mortgage lenders" are often more flexible and considerate of individuals who have experienced challenging life events, such as serious illness or divorce.
These specialised lenders are more open to reviewing mortgage applications from individuals with bad credit. However, it's important to note that they may offer higher-than-average interest rates and require larger deposits.
Now, let's delve into some practical steps you can take to improve your chances of being approved for a mortgage:
Assess your partner's financial situation
If you're purchasing a property with a partner, their credit score will also be taken into consideration. It's crucial to have open and honest discussions about each other's debts and financial standing before proceeding.
Focus on improving your own credit
Demonstrating a history of timely payments and responsible financial behaviour can boost your credit score and assure lenders of your reliability.
Over time, the negative impact of past financial issues on your credit history will diminish, especially if you have since improved your financial situation.
Maintain honesty with lenders
Trying to conceal any financial issues from mortgage lenders is not advisable. Lenders have ways of uncovering information, and it's essential to maintain transparency. Dishonesty will only harm your chances of securing a mortgage.
Provide explanations for past financial difficulties
Lenders often want to understand why you faced financial challenges and, more importantly, what steps you have taken to rectify the situation. Being able to provide a clear explanation and evidence of positive changes can improve your prospects.
It's important to note that bad credit encompasses various situations, such as missed payments, Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs), County Court Judgments (CCJs), and bankruptcies. Lenders consider the specifics of your credit history, emphasizing the nature, timing, and reasons behind any negative incidents. Each lender has its own criteria, so finding a lender that is understanding of your circumstances may be key.
Remember, obtaining a mortgage with bad credit may require more effort, but with careful planning, transparency, and perseverance, it is possible to achieve your goal of homeownership. Here are the most common examples of bad credit, how each one may affect your mortgage application, and some examples of available help:
Missing a payment
Failure to make payments on time for things like bills or outstanding debts are recorded as defaults on your credit history and lower your rating. They don’t all hold the same importance, though. A missed bill payment is understandable, but a missed mortgage payment at any point will make any lender extremely unwilling to agree to a mortgage.
County court judgements (CCJs)
A CCJ can be ordered against you when you fail to pay someone the money you owe, even just for minor sums, and they can stay on your record for seven years.
Banks will take the failed repayment amount into account when looking at your mortgage application. Amounts of £200 will not be viewed as harshly as those of over £1,000, for example.
Most high-street lenders might be willing to give you a mortgage despite a CCJ if it is more than three years old and the amount is fully repaid, but any CCJs that are not ‘fully satisfied’ will severely lower your chances.
Debt management plans or IVAs can help
If you find yourself in large amounts of debt, one of the best ways to get out of it is by setting up a debt management plan. This is where you reach an agreement with a creditor to repay a limited amount of money per month.
Or, you can go for an individual voluntary agreement (IVA), which enables you to pay in affordable amounts for a longer period of time – often over five to six years. These are recorded in a public register and creditors cannot demand complete repayment while you have an IVA set up.
In extreme circumstances, declaring bankruptcy might be your one and only option. Your application may be considered by specialist lenders if the bankruptcy occurred over six years prior to the application and has been discharged, but high-street lenders are much less likely to be considerate.
Checking your credit score
It is advisable to think twice about applying for a mortgage if you think there’s a chance that you could be rejected, because every failed attempt shows up on your credit history and lower your score.
You might get around this if you’re applying for a mortgage in principle because lenders may only conduct a ‘soft check’, which will not appear on your record. But, soft checks don’t cover everything in your history, so a future mortgage application could still fail if issues crop up later down the line.
Whether you believe these factors apply to your situation or not, it is always worth checking your credit report before you apply for a mortgage. It could be beneficial to check with a few companies, because they all score differently.
Once you have the report(s), make sure to check that all your information is correct and start thinking of how you can improve your credit score.
In most cases, you will be better off waiting until your credit history has improved because this gives you access to more affordable mortgage deals. A reliable broker will advise you on the deals you'll likely be accepted for, or will tell you you’re better off waiting.
For more information and to get advice on mortgages with bad credit, visit our mortgage advice page.