How to get a mortgage and increase your chances of being accepted

A couple holding their new house keys

As a first time buyer, wondering “how do I get a mortgage?” is something that you’ll have likely thought about in great detail. While the excitement of getting your first house is something that you’ll never forget, you should also be aware of all the mortgage acceptance steps you need to go through, and all the paperwork that you’ll need to fill out in order to be accepted for a mortgage.

In our guide below on how to get a mortgage and increase your chances of being accepted, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about what credit score you need to get a mortgage, how to improve your credit score to increase your acceptance chances, plus how to get a bad credit mortgage.

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What do mortgage lenders look for?

When applying for a mortgage, there are several things that mortgage lenders look for. They’ll want to know:

  • The size of the loan that you want to take out
  • Your employment status and income
  • Your credit rating and credit score
  • Whether you have any existing debt
  • How much money you’ve got saved for a deposit

Common types of mortgages

There are two main types of mortgages; fixed rate and variable rate. 

With a fixed rate mortgage, the interest rate that you have to pay stays the same for a certain number of years; usually between two and five years. Whereas with a variable rate mortgage, the interest rate that you pay can change.

There are also several other types of mortgages that you might want to look into, including:

  • Standard Variable Rate
  • Discount mortgage
  • Capped rate mortgage
  • Offset mortgage
  • Tracker mortgage

The mortgage application process

The mortgage application process is often a lengthy one; below you can find some very brief steps about the whole process.

  • Save for a deposit
  • Work on improving your credit score (if necessary)
  • Research and compare mortgage providers
  • Get all your paperwork sorted
  • Ensure that you fill out the application form correctly and avoid making mistakes
  • Get a mortgage in principle agreement to test your eligibility for acceptance
  • Officially apply for a mortgage and wait for acceptance

Learn more: The process of buying a house in the UK

What stops you from getting a mortgage?

There are several things that can stop you from getting a mortgage including having a poor credit history, not being registered on the electoral roll, making too many credit applications, being in too much debt and making mistakes such as administrative errors.

It’s easier said than done to rectify these things, but if you are serious about applying for a mortgage, then you will need to work on them in order to increase your chances of being accepted.

What is the ideal credit score for a mortgage?

The ideal credit score that you need for a mortgage differs between lenders and which credit reference agency you check your score with.

For example, Experian has a credit score rating system between 0 and 999, and they state that an excellent credit score is between 961 and 999 in order to get the best deals possible on a mortgage.

Do all mortgage lenders check your credit score?

When applying for a mortgage with any lender, they will almost certainly check your credit score and report. They do this so that they can see how likely you are to make your mortgage repayments, so that they know how much money to lend you and what kind of interest rate to offer you.

They may check one of the main UK credit reference agencies, like Experian, or they may use a few or even all of them (TransUnion, Equifax and Crediva) to get a good idea of your borrowing eligibility.

If you're not sure what your score is or what your credit report looks like, you can see information from all credit reference agencies in one place at Checkmyfile:

Check Your Score

Can you get a mortgage with bad credit?

If you have a bad credit history, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s still possible to get a mortgage with bad credit, however, it will probably be much harder for you to obtain a great deal. You may also have to pay higher interest rates if your credit score isn’t quite up to scratch. 

Can I get a mortgage with a default?

Being accepted for a mortgage if you have a default can prove to be very difficult and many lenders may be reluctant to offer you a mortgage. However, they will also take other factors into account and as long as you’re open and honest about having a default with your lender, then you should hopefully be able to get a mortgage.

Can I get a mortgage with debt?

Similarly to being accepted for a mortgage with a default, obtaining a mortgage with debt, such as credit card debt for example, can also prove to be a difficult, albeit not entirely impossible task.

Can you get a mortgage on benefits?

Being on benefits doesn’t prevent you from getting a mortgage and purchasing a house, but it is important to ensure that you can make the monthly mortgage repayments. You may also find that it’s a little trickier to be accepted for a mortgage while on benefits as lenders might be slightly reluctant to lend you the money if you rely on benefits for 100% of your income.

While having debt in the first place shouldn’t prevent you from being accepted for a mortgage, the amount of debt that you have could make your chances less likely, especially if you have a lot of debt.

Covid-19 financial support - Will this affect your chances of being accepted?

Unfortunately, if you’ve applied for Coronavirus financial help and support, this could affect your chances of being accepted for a mortgage, so it’s incredibly important to think carefully about whether you should apply for help or not.

You might like: Borrowers confused about payment holidays and impact on credit score

How to improve your chances of being accepted for a mortgage

There are several things you can do to improve your chances of achieving mortgage acceptance:

  • Check your credit score and report before applying
  • Improve your credit score before applying for a mortgage
  • Register to vote on the electoral roll
  • Get rid of negative financial associates
  • Pay all bills on time
  • Don't apply for any other type of credit before applying for a mortgage
  • Use the Rental Exchange Initiative to bump up your credit file and boost your credit rating by paying your rent on time

For more tips, advice and information, check out our helpful guides below - it pays to do your research before applying!

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