Mortgage Credit Checks

Everything you need to know about the checks which are done during a mortgage applicaiton

How will you be using the property?

Home Bad Credit Mortgages Mortgage Credit Checks
Pete Mugleston

Author: Pete Mugleston

Mortgage Advisor, MD

Nathan Porter

Reviewer: Nathan Porter

Independent Mortgage Advisor

Updated: March 15, 2024

How we reviewed this article:

Our experts continuously monitor changes in the financial space and work closely with qualified mortgage advisors for factual verification.

March 15, 2024

Here, we investigate how a check will impact your credit rating if a mortgage provider runs a search on your history. We also identify when mortgage lenders run those searches and whether you should check your own credit report before making a mortgage application.

What is a mortgage credit check?

When you apply for a mortgage with a lender, they’ll run a credit check on you. That means looking at your financial history to determine how responsible you’ve been in the past when borrowing money and to establish how risky – or not – it would be to offer you a mortgage.

If the provider finds too many red flags in your credit history, they may reject your application. Different providers have different ways of evaluating the findings from a credit report. So, having issues with bad credit in the past won’t automatically stop you from being accepted for a mortgage – it depends on the provider’s eligibility criteria.

There are two types of credit checks: hard and soft. It’s essential to know the difference and how the checks themselves can affect your credit rating in the future.

Soft Credit Check

This type of check is performed to see if you may be a suitable candidate for a loan without running a full search. A soft search is not visible on your report to other companies, only to you. As a result, they do not affect your credit rating.

Hard Credit Check

A hard credit check is when a provider will look back at your entire financial history to see every time you’ve applied for credit and any issues with repayments.

This type of check leaves what is known as a footprint on your credit report and therefore can be seen by future credit lenders – be it for a mortgage, credit card or another type of loan.

Maximise your chance of approval with a specialist broker who can guide you through the application process

Get Started Phone Icon 0808 189 2301

When do mortgage lenders do credit checks?

Lenders will usually run a credit check early on in the application process. Applicants or a broker will approach a lender for what is known as a mortgage in principle which is like a mortgage pre-approval. Lenders can conduct either a soft or a hard check at this point. If approved for a mortgage in principle, applicants can more easily make an offer on their potential property.

Some lenders will run a final hard check towards the end of the purchase process.

That can mean:

  • Just prior to exchanging
  • Exchange day
  • After exchanging
  • Close to completion day

What are they looking for?

Early in the process, they will be looking for any evidence of bad credit such as arrears, missed payments and debt management plans. They will also want to see that you have some credit history, although there are circumstances where you can still get approved for a mortgage with none, such as if you have been living abroad.

For the later assessments, they will be double checking your credit history and debts but also your income, your expenditure, age and how many dependents you have. They will want to see that your situation hasn’t changed since you first applied.

There is still the possibility therefore that they won’t approve your mortgage. Plus, if the application changes at any point in the process – perhaps to borrow more funds or to add/remove a person from the application – providers will likely run a check again.

Not every past credit issue you have had will affect your ability to secure a mortgage. It depends entirely on how your potential provider assesses an applicant’s financial past and subsequent risk. The length of time they look at specifically can vary, but they’ll typically focus on the last six years to see any credit problems you have had.

Usually, they will want to check:

  • Missed loan payments
  • Credit/loan rejections
  • Any utility or phone contract issues
  • IVAs
  • CCJs
  • Repossessions
  • Bankruptcy
  • A High credit utilisation ratio (this will show on your files if it’s over 50%)
  • Your credit score/credit history
  • Overdraft usage (this can be overlooked if it is responsible and within means)

Which lenders have you already tried?

Select the tiles below to continue:


Download your credit report

Knowing what’s on your credit report before applying for a mortgage is always a smart idea. It means you can either rectify any inaccuracies or you simply know what you are dealing with.

Knowing how good or bad your credit report is, and what credit issues it has highlighted, means you can then approach the right lender – despite those specific problems.

Access your credit report through a free trial

Credit rating illustration
Get my FREE report

How a mortgage broker can help optimise your credit report

If your overall credit score is not quite up to scratch – don’t panic! This is where we can help. The mortgage brokers we work with have extensive experience in this area and they’ll be able to help by offering all the guidance you need on how you can make improvements.

Once they’ve assessed your reports they’ll then be able to identify what you can do to put yourself – and your credit score – in a position which would give your mortgage application the best chance of success, the first time! This might be something as simple as registering on the electoral roll or liaising with a previous finance house to correct an error on your report.

If you get in touch with us we’ll arrange for an advisor to contact you straight away.

How a mortgage check affects your credit rating

Having too many credit checks run on you can negatively affect your credit rating as companies may conclude that you are too reliant on borrowing or that you are suffering from financial hardship. They may see you as too risky as the chances of missed repayments increase.

Remember, the type of mortgage check run will affect your report differently. Lenders do not see a soft check so it won’t affect your rating. It is the hard checks that leave footprints, or records, of your loan applications.

If you have too many hard checks in a short period of time (usually for about a 6 month period), this can often be viewed negatively by mortgage providers. It may diminish the number of lenders open to accepting your application. Most hard searches only stay on your credit report for 12 months.

We're so confident in our service, we guarantee it.

We know it's important for you to have complete confidence in our service, and trust that you're getting the best chance of mortgage approval at the best available rate. We guarantee to get your mortgage approved where others can't - or we'll give you £100*

Happy approved couple

Do mortgage brokers also perform these checks?

Brokers will ask you for a copy of your report to know your full financial picture. Or, they could ask your permission to order one. They need a copy in order to accurately assess your entire financial history so they can then give you appropriate advice and identify the best lender for your circumstances.

The specialist bad credit mortgage brokers we work with will know what issues lenders overlook and what they don’t. That means you only apply for a mortgage with a lender most likely to approve you.

As a result, you won’t have to make multiple mortgage applications which negatively affect your credit score.

Tamsin's Story

"Without Online Mortgage Advisor we'd have certainly lost our home"

After a bad credit rating stopped Tamsin’s mortgage application in it’s tracks, see how expert advice helped Tamsin keep her family home, and read other success stories from our customers

Read the full story
Tamsin Maclellan

Why Use Online Mortgage Advisor?

Mortgage credit checks are a standard procedure and should not be feared, even by those with bad credit issues on their report.

A mortgage broker can be invaluable when applying for a mortgage – whether you have bad credit or not – as their in-depth knowledge will mean you only ever approach a lender who will most likely accept your application. You’ll consequently reduce the amount of hard checks on your record. A broker can therefore help protect your credit rating which is important if you want to access other credit in the future.

Contact us so we can connect you with a broker most suitable for your needs. Our matching service is free and no-obligation, so you have nothing to lose.

Call us today on 0808 189 2301 or make an enquiry so we can arrange for a specialist to speak with you.

Maximise your chance of approval with a specialist broker who can guide you through the application process

Get Started Phone Icon 0808 189 2301


Yes. While you are not technically missing any payments, your credit report will record a payment holiday. As a result, depending on your potential provider’s requirements, your loan eligibility may be affected due to perceived increased risk.

If you managed to be approved for your mortgage in principle with only a soft credit check on your report, your rating would not be affected. However, some lenders will use a hard check which leaves a footprint on your history – negatively affecting your rating.

Too many applications within a short space of time can be detrimental to your mortgage prospects, especially if each application reaches the point where the lender has carried out a hard credit check against your time.

Some lenders might wonder why you’ve had to make so many applications to get approved and might question whether you’re a high-risk customer.

Lenders will likely always run a credit check on you. However, if you want to reduce the impact of those checks on your report, some lenders only run soft footprint searches that don’t affect your ratings. Kensington and Principality Building Society, for example, only use soft searches when performing a credit check.

Ask us a question

We know everyone's circumstances are different, that's why we work with mortgage brokers who are experts in all different mortgage subjects.

Ask us a question and we'll get the best expert to help.

Our Brokers

Get in touch today

Make an enquiry and we'll arrange for an experienced mortgage broker we work with to contact you straight away.

1 of 3
2 of 3
3 of 3 Send!

About the author

Pete, an expert in all things mortgages, cut his teeth right in the middle of the credit crunch. With plenty of people needing help and few mortgage providers lending, Pete found great success in going the extra mile to find mortgages for people whom many others considered lost causes. The experience he gained, coupled with his love of helping people reach their goals, led him to establish Online Mortgage Advisor, with one clear vision – to help as many customers as possible get the right advice, regardless of need or background.

Pete’s presence in the industry as the ‘go-to’ for specialist finance continues to grow, and he is regularly cited in and writes for both local and national press, as well as trade publications, with a regular column in Mortgage Introducer and being the exclusive mortgage expert for LOVEMoney. Pete also writes for Online Mortgage Advisor of course!

Read more about Pete

Pete Mugleston

Mortgage Advisor, MD

Maximise your chances of approval, whatever your situation. Find your perfect broker