Applying for a Mortgage: What’s Required
First compare mortgages, and then prepare to provide valid identification, proof of address, P60, pay slips, bank statements and other documents when you apply.
Very few people in the UK have the cash available to buy a property outright. As a result, we usually need a mortgage to land our dream home.
But what is the process for applying for a mortgage? And what requirements do you need to meet in order to qualify?
How do I apply for a mortgage?
For many would-be borrowers, the first port of call is likely to be a high street bank or building society, particularly one that you may have or previously had a current account with.
While these big banks may be active in the mortgage market, there are many more lenders you may not be familiar with that may be able to offer you a better deal.
This could be because they may have more competitive products, more relaxed lending criteria, or be particularly targeting borrowers like you.
You can apply directly with the lender, specifying precisely which product you are interested in.
» COMPARE: Mortgages deals and rates
Alternatively you can use a mortgage adviser. An adviser’s job is to help their clients find the most appropriate mortgage for their circumstances. Some lenders only offer their products through advisers, rather than dealing with borrowers directly, so going down this route may mean you enjoy the broadest choice.
Some mortgage advisers charge a fee for their advice while others offer their services to borrowers free of charge and earn a commission from lenders.
» MORE: Should I get a mortgage adviser?
What do I need in order to apply for a mortgage?
All lenders will have certain age requirements over who they will lend to. You will always need to be at least 18 years old to take out a mortgage, but the maximum age they will lend to varies from lender to lender.
You will also be asked to provide some proof of identification and of your address. This will need to be the original document, not a copy, and be current and valid. So for example, if you provide your passport, it cannot have expired, while utility bills will need to be dated within the last three months.
When you purchase a property, you will need to put down a house deposit alongside the mortgage, and the lender will want to see evidence of where that deposit is coming from. If you have it in a savings account for example, you will need to provide them with a statement to prove you have the money.
Lenders will also want to see some proof of your income. Precisely what they require will vary by the lender, but it’s generally a good idea to have your last three months of payslips, your last three months of bank statements and your most recent P60 tax form. If you are self-employed, you will need to provide your last year’s accounts, at least.
How do I prepare for a mortgage application?
To ensure your application proceeds as smoothly as possible, it is important to get all of these documents together before you apply for the mortgage. However there are also plenty of steps you can take to improve your chances of being accepted.
For example, it’s a good idea to get your credit record into the best possible shape. You can check your credit record for free with services like Clearscore, and then go through it to correct any mistakes that might damage your score. Other ways to rebuild your credit include closing old accounts you no longer use and ensuring you are on the electoral register at your current address.
To get an idea of how you spend your money and how much you can afford to repay each month, lenders will ask to see up to 6 months of bank statements. So it’s a good idea to spend a few months being extra careful with your cash and avoid dipping into your overdraft before you apply for the mortgage.
It may also be worth holding off on the application until you have a bigger deposit. While you may be able to purchase a home with a deposit of just 5% of its purchase price, you will have a very limited number of lenders and products to choose from. In addition, the interest rates on these deals are inevitably some of the highest in the market.
However, if you are able to save a little more, and build a deposit of 10% or more, that will make a difference to both the number of mortgage products available to you and the cost of your monthly mortgage repayments.
» MORE: All about mortgages
John Fitzsimons has been writing about finance since 2007. He is the former editor of Mortgage Solutions and loveMONEY and his work has appeared in The Sunday Times, The Mirror, The Sun and Forbes. Read more