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Mortgage Help for Single Parents

The key information you need to know about the mortgage help available for single parents

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By Pete Mugleston  | Mortgage Advisor Pete has been a mortgage advisor for over 10 years, and is regularly cited in both trade and national press.

Updated: 21st October 2019 *

Getting a foot on the property ladder can be tough at the best of times, but if you’re looking to take out a mortgage loan as a single parent, the process can be even more challenging, especially if one of the obstacles you face is low income. 

Fortunately, there are several specialist lenders and flexible mortgage products in the UK that are a good fit for single parents.

This article provides key information about mortgages for single parents, how to get them and whether any alternatives are available. 

In this article, we’ll be looking at the following: 

To find lenders with the best deals for single parent applicants, call us on 0808 189 2301 or make an enquiry. We’ll then match you with an experienced broker who can find ideal lenders using their ‘whole-of-market’ access – and they may even find deals that aren’t available to the public. 

All advice you receive is free, impartial and will have no impact on your credit rating. 

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Mortgage challenges for single parents

'Single parent mortgages’ are not a product in their own right, though it’s important to find a mortgage product and lender’s criteria must fit your needs.   

While the prospect of being a single parent with a mortgage to pay may seem impossible, this is not necessarily the case. Finding a provider willing to lend money to single parents may prove difficult due to the additional risk involved, however, there are lenders out there who can help.

Realistically, you will be looked at more favourably if you were buying a property as a couple. For a single parent the main obstacle usually surrounds the typically lower income, so it may be the case that you need to find a mortgage lender who takes a flexible approach to affordability.

How to find the best mortgage lender for single parents

The good news is that there are banks who can lend to single parents, and the best way to find one is by applying through a whole-of-market broker. They can offer you bespoke advice on this topic and introduce you to the lender best positioned to offer favourable rates to a single parent borrower.

By working with a mortgage broker, they can work to understand your circumstances and find the most suitable deals for you and your family. Make an enquiry to get started. 

What factors influence getting a mortgage as a single parent?

Lenders take several variables into account when assessing the eligibility of single parents, including:

Income

Low or no income from employment, which is typical of a single mother or father, can significantly reduce the amount you can borrow for a mortgage. 

Most providers are only willing to loan you three to four times your annual income, although there are a handful of lenders stretch to five or six times. However, this will vary based on how many dependants you have; essentially, the more you have, the more this impacts your affordability and how much a prospective lender is willing to offer you.

The advisors we work with have access to every lender on the market and can introduce you to the provider most likely to offer higher income multiples to a single parent borrower with your needs and circumstances.

Affordability

As well as the limitations surrounding income, another factor lenders will prioritise is affordability. For example, while your income may be low, if your monthly outgoings aren’t too high, you may be looked on favourably by certain banks.

Lenders assess your affordability by looking at your debt-to-income ratio. This gives them insight into your income versus all your outgoings, which allows them to assess whether you can realistically afford to repay the loan you’ve applied for over the agreed period. 

This moves us on to...

Additional sources of income

As we’ve established, in order for a mortgage application to be considered, you need to be able to demonstrate to the lender that you are capable of paying off the loan. 

While your income may be low (or even non-existent if you’re unemployed), there may be other sources of income you’re receiving which lenders will consider. Read the section below for more information. 

What additional income sources will lenders accept for single parents?

So, what else can be factored in when assessing a mortgage application for a single parent? The main forms are child benefit payments, tax credits and maintenance payments that you receive from your ex-partner. There may also be other sources of income, such as universal credit, which will be added to the equation.

For example, if your income is £10,000 a year from a part-time job, then based on a bank lending you the ‘standard’ three to four times the amount of your annual salary, you could be eligible to only borrow between £30,000 – £40,000 for a mortgage (although this will vary by lender, and will also be looked at alongside other factors). 

However, if you add up the total of the benefits you receive, this could raise the amount you’re able to borrow. If all your benefits amount to, say, an additional £10,000 annually, this plus your £10,000 salary from work will be treated as an annual income of £20,000, which theoretically raises the amount a mortgage provider could be willing to lend you.

Of course, your lender will also take your outgoings into consideration. For example, your average monthly expenditure, including any loans you’re currently paying off, how much is spent on childcare, etc. Some lenders will also include childcare vouchers when assessing affordability. 

How does adverse credit affect mortgage loans for single parents?

As with any mortgage application, poor credit is not looked at favourably by lenders. Mortgage providers can take adverse credit issues seriously because if a borrower has fallen into financial difficulty in the past, the higher risk they are, as they could fall into further financial difficulty in the future.

Ultimately though, it comes down to how recent and how severe the bad credit issues are and the lender’s criteria. 

For example, if you have light historic arrears, a satisfied CCJ / default or a discharged bankruptcy that is over 6 years old, some banks may consider you. However, it’s best to be aware of any adverse credit before making an application, as a lender may reject you during any stage of your application before completion if you don’t disclose them. However, they may be more lenient with honest applicants. 

Luckily, the advisors we work with can check your credit reports from the UK’s three main credit referencing agencies (Equifax, Experian and CallCredit) for free to ensure that nothing is left off your application. Plus, checking these reports will have no impact on your credit. 

Make an enquiry to get started.  

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What mortgage help is available for single parents?

While there are no specific mortgage initiatives for single parent borrowers, we’re fortunate enough in the UK to benefit from several schemes (government-funded or otherwise) that can give you a leg up on the property ladder.

So, to all single parents seeking help with your mortgage payments, read on to find out which mortgage schemes could help you out.

Government Help to Buy equity loan

The government has several schemes available to help those who are finding things tough financially – a good option for a single mother or father struggling to save for a deposit.

As part of the help-to-buy initiative, the equity loan scheme allows you to buy a home with as little as 5% deposit saved. Alongside your savings, the government will provide you with a loan of up to 20% of the property’s value to be used towards a deposit.

This means that you are only required to save a 5% deposit to be eligible for the scheme, giving you a far more attractive deposit of 25%, with a 75% loan-to-value mortgage making up the rest (although you can of course pay more out of your own pocket, if possible).

London Help to Buy equity loan

Considering the high cost of properties in certain areas of the UK, the government has increased the upper limit of the equity loan scheme from 20% to 40% for those looking to buy within Greater London.

Again, you’ll need to contribute at least 5% of the property price as a deposit, and the Government will loan you up to 40% of the property value. As above, you would then take out a maximum mortgage of 55% to cover the rest.

Government Shared Ownership scheme

Shared Ownership is another government scheme available to first-time buyers or lower income households. Shared Ownership allows you to buy a share (usually between 25% – 75%) of a resale or a new build home. Alongside this you will pay reduced rent on the remaining share of the property, although later down the line you will have the option to buy a larger share if you can afford to. However, bear in mind that these types of properties are always leasehold.

When it comes to Shared Ownership mortgages, most lenders will require you to have saved a minimum of 5% deposit. However, there are a handful of providers that will offer 100% mortgages on Shared Ownership, meaning you may not be required to save anything at all, provided you can prove you can afford the repayments

Speak with an expert to find out more. 

Low deposit mortgages

Although you tend to be looked at more favourably if you have a deposit of 15% or more in savings, there are a few lenders out there who will accept a 5% deposit on a standard mortgage

So, if you’re unwilling to ‘invest’ in a government scheme, there are still options available if you’ve only got a small deposit. But remember, the larger your deposit, the more likely you are to get competitive rates (which can save you money in the long term).

Guarantor Mortgages

A guarantor mortgage is when someone you know (typically a family member) uses their own savings or a personal asset such as their home as a deposit on your behalf. This makes them responsible for your repayments if you’re unable to do so, meaning that there is the possibility that your guarantor could have their property repossessed if you start defaulting on your repayments.

To be accepted as a guarantor, the individual will need to own their own home, or own a certain amount of equity in the property (this figure will vary by lender). They will also need a good credit record and proof that their income can cover your repayments on top of their own outgoings if necessary.

If you have little or no deposit together, and are certain that you will be financially capable of keeping up with your mortgage repayments, this can be a good way to get a foot on the ladder because many lenders will allow you to borrow up to 100% of a property’s value.

Family gifted deposits

Many parents like to help their kids out financially by contributing some or all of a deposit for their child’s own home. A family gifted deposit is a good option if you’re struggling to save up a lump sum for a deposit, but are confident in your ability to afford the repayments in the future.

Direct family such as parents, siblings and grandparents are usually accepted without question by most lenders, but most can be a lot more wary about gifts from more distant family.

If you’re fortunate enough to be in a position to be offered a deposit in the form of a gift from a close family member, this can be a simple and effective way of getting on the ladder even if you have zero deposit saved yourself (other factors considered). However, if you can make your own contribution to the deposit on top of the gift you will be looked at more favourably by lenders.

The gifter will have to sign a gifted deposit letter stating that the gift is not repayable, and they will have no interest in the property.

Personal loans

If you’re considering taking out a loan in order to qualify for a mortgage deposit, this triggers warning signs to most lenders, and many will not consider you. 

This is partly due to the impact it has on your affordability and whether you can realistically afford to repay a loan and a mortgage at the same time. But the most significant issue is that you have not personally invested any of your own savings towards the deposit, and as such you’re considered higher risk.

That said, scraping a deposit together as a single mum or dad can be very challenging, and if a loan is your only option, there are a couple of lenders that will consider you (in the right circumstances).

If you can provide evidence to suggest that you will be able to afford both the mortgage repayments alongside the loan and your other outgoings, you might stand a chance.

It may be possible to do this with 5% loan and 95% mortgage, 10% loan and 90% mortgage, or even 15% loan and 85% mortgage.

However, it’s important to note that larger loans are less common, as the maximum amount you can borrow on a personal loan is £25,000 (with the maximum term usually being 7 years), making repayments considerably higher than if they were over the full term of the mortgage.

If you’re considering a loan to put towards your deposit, speak with an advisor first. 

Can I use child benefits to aid my single parent mortgage application?

Many lenders allow child benefit to be counted towards their affordability and can even be considered as a primary income, however, you may find that some lenders will only accept child benefit as income if the child or children in question are under 13 years old, and if you earn less than £50,000 per year. 

This is because if your application’s affordability is heavily based on your child benefit and you only have a few years left of receiving it, lenders may think that you are unable to carry on affording your payments once this has stopped. 

For example, if you took out a five-year fixed term mortgage on a rate of 2.08% when your child was 13, you should be able to afford the payments on this deal. However, once the child in question stops becoming eligible for child benefit (for example, 18 years old and off to university) and your child benefit payments will stop, you may be unable to afford the increased rate of say 4.87% along with a lower income. 

Because lenders will assess your affordability going forward, some might feel that you are unable to meet the payments without this extra benefit. 

It’s also worth noting that some lenders may not agree to a mortgage if you list child tax credits, adoption benefits or foster care income as a source of income for your affordability assessment, though there are others that will accept these. 

Make an enquiry and we’ll connect you with an experienced broker who can help you find a mortgage that accepts child benefit. 

We’ll find the perfect mortgage expert for you - for free

Save time and money with the right mortgage advice, first time

  • Network of over 200 brokers all with whole of market coverage
  • Save up to £400 per year with a mortgage expert matched to you
  • We've helped over 100,000 people get the right advice
  • Our quick & easy form only takes a couple of minutes to complete

Speak to an expert in single parent mortgages today

If you’re wondering whether you can get help with your mortgage as a single parent, call us on 0808 189 2301 or make an enquiry here

The experts we work with can advise where necessary and source deals to suit your circumstances. 

Updated: 21st October 2019
OnlineMortgageAdvisor 2019 ©

FCA disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The info on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs. Some types of buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the FCA. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. As a mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage. Equity released from your home will also be secured against it.

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