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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: 24th November 2020*

If you’re planning to apply for a mortgage, it pays to be prepared for the potential roadblocks you can hit on your journey to homeownership. For many customers, it isn’t plain sailing, as some mortgage lenders have very stringent criteria, and failing their assessments could send you back to square one.

This might be because you don’t have enough deposit, have failed the affordability assessments or have bad credit against your name.

Or maybe you’re self-employed without enough proof of income, think you’re too old to get a mortgage, or won’t get one because of the type of property you’re buying.

Choosing a mortgage lender is a potential minefield. If you go it alone without in-depth knowledge of the entire market, you run the risk of approaching the wrong provider, failing their eligibility checks and ending up with ugly black marks on your credit report as a result.

And even if you are approved, there’s a chance you could end up paying over the odds in interest, unless you find the perfect lender for you.

In this guide, we’ll flag up the main factors that could stop you from getting a mortgage without specialist advice and explain how you can give yourself the best chance of overcoming these hurdles.

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What can stop you from getting a mortgage?

Some mortgage lenders, especially high street ones, can be picky when it comes to who they approve for finance. Even those with no history of bad credit can find that the odds are stacked against them if they attempt to go it alone and search for the right deal with no prior knowledge of the market.

The market is vast and every mortgage lender has different criteria you need to meet, so it pays to be aware of the obstacles you might need to overcome to get the finance you need.

Here are some of the most common issues that could stop you from getting a mortgage in the UK…

Read on to find out more about how these factors could stop you from getting the mortgage you need. We’ll also explain how a whole-of-market mortgage broker could help you get around these problems.

1. Not enough deposit

For many prospective home-buyers, saving up enough mortgage deposit is the biggest hurdle blocking their path to the property ladder. Most lenders will only approve an application if it’s backed up by at least 10% deposit, and if you want the best interest rate, you’ll likely need even more than that.

But if you have less than 10% deposit to put towards the property you want, the important thing to keep in mind is that there are a minority of mortgage providers who are willing to accept 5% deposit, under the right circumstances, and the advisors we work with know who they are.

There are also workaround solutions for borrowers with no deposit whatsoever. For example, if you have a family member who’s willing to help you out, speak to your broker about guarantor mortgages.

2. Failing the affordability checks

The stringent affordability checks many mortgage lenders are using in the current climate have been known to stop customers from getting the mortgage deal they want

One of the main ways your prospective mortgage provider will assess this is by applying an income multiplier rule of thumb to your declarable earnings.

Some mortgage providers will cap their lending at 4.5 times your income, others will draw the line at 5 times, and a minority will stretch to times 6, under the right circumstances. So, if you need to borrow £250,000 for that property you’ve got your eye on, all of the mortgages applicants would need to have combined earnings of somewhere between £55,555 and £42,000, plus enough deposit, too.

Debt-to-income ratios

Even if you’re earning enough to meet income requirements, your debt-to-income ratio could stop you from getting a mortgage if the lender feels it’s a cause for concern. In other words, if they think you’ll struggle financially with a mortgage added to your financial obligations. There’s no hard and fast rule on what percentage your debt-to-income ratio needs to be, as most lenders will use their discretion on this.

Approaching a mortgage lender who uses a lower income multiple or has a relatively low appetite for risk where debt-to-income ratios are concerned could be damaging for your prospects. It might mean you miss out on the finance you need or end up paying over the odds in interest.

But the good news is that the expert brokers we work with could potentially match you with a different mortgage provider who offers high income multiples and is willing to take a bigger commercial risk.

3. Bad credit

Bad credit of any kind can potentially stop you from getting a mortgage. This is especially true if it’s a severe credit issue like a repossession or a bankruptcy, and the provider is a high street lender.

Your chances of mortgage success largely depend on the nature of the credit problems against your name. When assessing a bad credit applicant, most mortgage providers base their lending decision on the age, severity and reason for your credit issues, and some are more lenient than others.

Some mortgage lenders will turn you away outright if they think your credit issues make you too much of a risk, and this can further tarnish your credit profile and make it even more difficult to secure finance in the future.

There’s no reason to lose heart, though, even if you have severe bad credit. Not only can the brokers we work with match you with the right specialist bad credit mortgage lender, they can also suggest ways to offset the risk posed by your credit problems, such as putting down extra deposit and credit repair.

You can find out more in our guide to bad credit mortgages.

4. Being self-employed without proof of income

One of the main issues that stops self-employed people from getting a mortgage is proof of income, namely not having enough of it. If you trade this way, most mainstream mortgage lenders will likely ask you to submit two-three-year’s worth of accounts to back up your application.

For this reason alone, many people who are newly self-employed struggle to find the finance they need, but there may be fallback options out there if this applies to you.

The whole-of-market mortgage brokers we work with have deep relationships with lenders who specialise in self-employed customers and have a better understanding of their needs and circumstances. These lenders often consider self-employed mortgage applicants with accounts covering just 12 months or less, and they’re often better equipped to assess non-standard income.

5. Issues with the property

If you’re buying an unusual property and one that has issues with it there’s a good chance you’ll need specialist advice before pressing ahead. Issues that mortgage lenders are wary of include damp, Japanese Knotweed and a high risk of flooding, while non-standard construction can be a deal-breaker for some mortgage providers.

In the UK, most properties that aren’t made from bricks and mortar fall into the ‘non-standard construction’ category, and to some lenders, this means they’re un-mortgageable, depending on the exact nature of the building materials, thus meaning it could stop you from getting a mortgage

Luckily, there are mortgage providers who specialise in properties that need work as well as non-standard construction, and they have a firmer understanding of the implications of unusual build types. In many cases, they’re more likely to rubber-stamp a non-standard construction mortgage or a deal involving a fixer-upper property than a high street bank.

See our guide to property types to find out more about which property issues and building materials lenders are cautious of and how to boost your chances of securing finance under these circumstances.

6. Age restrictions

Old age often stops people from getting a mortgage post-retirement. If you’re a pensioner, you’ll likely find that your options are limited, and without specialist advice, finding the right lender can be tough.

But the good news is that there are mortgage providers who will lend to senior citizens of any age, under the right circumstances. Sure, some lenders have age restrictions and won’t offer a mortgage to anyone over 75, but others stretch to 85, and a minority have no upper age limits at all.

If you’re concerned that your age might stop you from getting the mortgage you need, get in touch and we’ll match you with a broker who specialises in later-life lending. They know exactly which lenders are best positioned to offer you a favourable mortgage, based on your age and circumstances.

7. Examples of other factors that can stop you from getting a mortgage

In addition to the seven common issues which stop people from getting a mortgage that we’ve covered above, here are some of the other, more general, reasons applications are unsuccessful.

  • You’re not registered on the electoral roll: You will need to be registered to vote at your current address so lenders can confirm your personal details, but there’s an easy fix if you aren’t. Simply sign up online through the Electoral Commission’s website or via your local council.
  • You made administrative errors on your application form: Take the time to fill out your mortgage application form carefully and don’t guess any of the answers (estimating how long you’ve been at your current address, rather than giving an accurate answer could harm your application). If you’ve had difficulty with your mortgage application, get in touch. The brokers we work with can help you with all of the paperwork as part of the service they provide.
  • You’ve taken payday loans: A history of payday loan usage can raise alarm bells with mortgage lenders as many of them will see it as an indication of possible financial mismanagement. If there’s any payday use on your credit report, seeking specialist advice is recommended. See our guide to payday loans and mortgages for further information on this.

Speak to an expert

If you’re concerned any of the issues we’ve discussed in this article might affect your chances of getting a mortgage, get in touch so we can match you with a mortgage broker for bespoke advice. Remember, failing to meet all of the items on the lender’s eligibility checklist could harm your chances of a successful outcome or mean you end up with an unfavourable interest rate.

The advisors we work with have in-depth knowledge of the entire market, and with their help, you can rest assured that you’ll be paired with the right lender first time, meaning the issues we’ve covered here are less likely to stand in your way. Call 0808 189 2301 or make an enquiry online and we’ll match you with a broker for a free, no-obligation chat today.

Updated: 24th November 2020
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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 information 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.