7 Things That Can Stop You From Getting a Mortgage

In reality, many of the hurdles that can impact mortgage applications can be overcome, with the right advice. Learn more below.

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Home Mortgage Application 7 Things That Can Stop You From Getting A Mortgage
Pete Mugleston

Author: Pete Mugleston

Mortgage Advisor, MD

Updated: December 11, 2023

Here, we take a look at some of the factors that most people assume will derail their mortgage plans – from severe bad credit to failing affordability checks – and explain how you can overcome these hurdles. 

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 the odds 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.

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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 a 10% deposit, and if you want the best interest rate, you’ll likely need even more than that.

If you have less than a 10% deposit to put towards the property you want, the important thing to keep in mind is that there are some mortgage providers who are willing to accept a 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. Alternatively, you could consider a government-supported scheme, such as a shared ownership mortgage

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 multiple 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 6 times, under the right circumstances. So, if you need to borrow £250,000 for the property you’re looking to buy, all of the mortgage applicants would need to have combined earnings of somewhere between £55,555 and £42,000, plus enough deposit, too. 

You can see how this could work out for you, based on your own earnings, by using our calculator here.

Mortgage Affordability Calculator

Use this calculator to determine how much you could potentially borrow for a mortgage, based on the typical salary multiples used by most UK lenders.

Input full salaries for all applicants

Your Results:

You could borrow up to 

Most lenders would consider letting you borrow

This is based on 4.5 times your household income, the standard calculation used by the majority of mortgage providers. To borrow more than this, you will need to use a mortgage broker to access specialist lenders.

Some lenders would consider letting you borrow

This is based on 5 times your household income, a salary multiple you might struggle to qualify for without the help of a broker. This income multiple is not widely available to customers who are applying directly with a lender.

A minority of lenders would consider letting you borrow

This is based on 6 times your household income, a salary multiple you will struggle to get without a broker. Six-times salary mortgages are usually only available under very specific circumstances.

Get Started with an expert broker to find out exactly how much you could borrow.

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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 you’ll struggle with a mortgage added to your other financial obligations. There’s no hard and fast rule on what percentage your debt-to-income ratio needs to be, but typically anything below a 60/40 split (income/outgoings) is seen as low-risk and anything higher may cause concern.

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 to 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.

Debt to Income Ratio Calculator

This calculator allows you to calculate your debt-to-income ratio and will indicate whether mortgage lenders will classify it as low, medium, or high risk.

The amount you get paid each month, after any taxes or contributions have been deducted
Be sure to include all of your fixed outgoings, as well as any loans or credit card payments you make

Your Results:

Your Debt to Income Ratio is %

Good news! Most mortgage lenders will class your debt-to-income ratio as low. You’re unlikely to be declined for a mortgage based on your outgoings, but speaking to a mortgage broker before applying is still recommended as they can improve your chances of getting the best deal.

Most mortgage lenders will class your debt-to-income ratio as moderate, which means some of them might view your application with caution. Some lenders are much more strict than others when it comes to affordability and debt, so it’s important for you to find a lender who’s more lenient. You should speak to a mortgage broker before you apply to ensure you’re matched with a lender whose criteria you fit.

Most mortgage lenders will class your debt-to-income ratio as high. But that’s where we can help! With so much of your monthly income going towards debt repayments, you could struggle to get approved for a mortgage without the help of a mortgage broker. We can help you find a lender who’s more lenient on debt and affordability, and could still secure a mortgage approval.

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3. Having a bad credit record

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.

If you think you have bad credit, head to our dedicated credit reports page to find out how to check your credit reports for free.

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, but they can also suggest ways to offset the risk posed by your credit problems, such as putting down a larger deposit and credit repair.

You can find out more in our article on bad credit mortgages.

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4. Being self-employed without proof of income

One of the main issues that stop 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 to 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 or 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 article on 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. Other factors that can stop you from getting a mortgage

In addition to the main issues which stop people from getting a mortgage that we’ve covered above, here are some 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 article on payday loans and mortgages for further information on this.
  • You’ve recently changed jobs or employment status: Changing jobs AND moving house is quite a lot to take on at the same time. Some lenders may be concerned about any chance you don’t pass the probationary period with your new employer or lack of any trading record if you’re now self-employed. Again, speaking to a broker in this situation is a smart move – they can identify the mortgage lenders who will not be put off by such circumstances.

Get matched with the right mortgage broker

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.

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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

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