Compare Bad Credit Mortgages
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Can you get a mortgage with bad credit?
Approach any lender for a mortgage, and a credit check will be performed before a final decision on your application is made. This is because mortgage companies need to assess whether you can be relied upon to keep up the repayments on the amount you want to borrow or pose a heightened risk that you might not pay back what you owe.
If your credit rating is deemed favourable, and you meet the lender’s affordability tests, a mortgage offer, and perhaps even the best mortgage rates, could be yours. However, if your credit is considered to be under par, lenders have another decision to make. They could offer you a mortgage, but with less generous terms to mitigate the added risk that they feel they are taking on, or turn you away altogether if they believe the dangers that you’ll fall behind with your payments are just too great.
Importantly, however, different lenders will have different criteria in relation to applications, and some will consider taking on more credit risk than others. So even if you’ve had an application rejected outright by one or more banks or building societies, there may still be specialist bad credit mortgage lenders that are willing to give you a chance.
What is a bad credit mortgage?
Bad credit mortgages aim to help people who may be finding it difficult to obtain credit from mainstream lenders because they have poor credit or experienced money problems in the past.
Also often known as sub prime mortgages, poor credit mortgages or adverse credit mortgages, bad credit mortgages work in much the same way as a conventional mortgage. It’s usually possible to find both fixed-rate and variable rate poor credit mortgages which are available over various terms. Applying for a bad credit mortgage is broadly similar too, and involves assessing what mortgage you can afford and, of course, a credit check.
However, where you will tend to notice differences is in the bigger deposits bad credit mortgage lenders usually ask you to provide, and the less generous amounts that they are willing to lend - most bad credit mortgages are for a maximum loan-to-value (LTV) of 75%, which means you need a minimum deposit of 25% of the property value. Bad credit mortgage rates are usually much higher than what you’d be charged on a traditional mortgage as well. All these are ways in which lenders attempt to either limit or mitigate the additional risk they are taking on.
How does bad credit affect your chance for a mortgage?
Your credit score reflects how you have handled your finances historically, including whether you’ve stayed up to date with payments on your utility bills and loan obligations. As a result, lenders that want an insight into who they might be lending to use your credit score as a gauge of your reliability as a borrower.
Although undesirable for your credit health, missing one bill payment is unlikely to cause too many problems. However, if you have regularly paid late, failed to make payments altogether, or previously missed a mortgage payment, this could ring alarm bells with a prospective mortgage lender.
Having little in the way of a credit history makes it hard for lenders to assess your creditworthiness too, but even if your credit score is beyond reproach, it doesn’t guarantee the offer of a mortgage either.
Major debt issues than can affect getting a mortgage
What will almost always represent a stumbling block with most mainstream lenders are serious debt problems from your past, particularly if they resulted in any of the following:
Individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) - An IVA is a formal agreement with creditors whereby a freeze is put on what you owe and you’re usually given up to six years to repay your debts. Getting a mortgage during this period is very unlikely, although some lenders may consider an application if you’ve settled your debt in full, the IVA is at least three years’ old, and your credit rating has started to improve.
County court judgment (CCJ) - A CCJ can be issued against you if you fail to pay off a specific debt and are not responding to requests to settle what you owe. If you settle within 30 days, the CCJ will not register on your credit history. However, if you don’t, it will stay there for six years. This would mean your mortgage options will narrow significantly, but may not disappear entirely - if you pay your dues and your CCJ is over three years’ old, your chances are better than if you don’t pay and it was issued more recently.
Bankruptcy - Declaring yourself bankrupt will see your debts wiped and assets used to cover what they can, but bankruptcy should always be an option of last resort. If it is a path you cannot avoid, it is very unlikely that you’ll find a lender that is likely to consider you for a mortgage until at least six years after the discharge.
Most negative marks, whether they are as serious as the above or you simply miss a bill payment, will remain visible on your credit report for six years before being deleted.
How to get a mortgage with bad credit
Before applying for a bad credit mortgage it’s important to make certain that your credit standing excludes you from the standard mortgages that are available. You should obtain your credit record and seek advice from a qualified mortgage broker. Consider also whether there are any easy ways you could improve your credit score so that the wider mortgage market might become accessible to you - if this seems possible, you may want to delay applying for a mortgage to give you time to improve your rating.
Finding bad credit mortgage lenders
Assuming a bad credit mortgage is your only option, you’ll then need to find the lenders that are willing to consider you. Some may only offer mortgage solutions if your bad credit is relatively minor, while others may specialise in mortgages for those with IVAs, CCJs or after bankruptcies - our bad credit mortgage comparison table above reveals the lenders that may be able to help you.
Sometimes people will need the assistance of a bad credit mortgage broker to help them find a suitable lender, particularly if their circumstances are less than straightforward.
Work out how much deposit you need
With many bad credit mortgages requiring a 25% deposit, this could prove a difficult hurdle for some to overcome. As an example, the deposit you’ll need] on a property worth £100,000 will amount to £25,000 for a 75% LTV mortgage. If you have a family member who wants to help you with a deposit, many lenders accept gifted deposits.
Calculate how much can you afford
Weighing up your monthly income versus your expenditure is the best way to work out how much you can afford to pay for a mortgage each month. A copy of your latest bank statement and a pen and paper is all you need to get started, and if you’re getting a joint mortgage include your partner’s income (and spending) too.
How to find the right mortgage deal
Our bad credit mortgage comparison table above is the easiest way to find the right adverse credit mortgage for you. Simply select the reason you’re borrowing, and adjust the property value, mortgage amount and term length, and you’ll see the bad credit mortgages that are available.
An indication of the monthly repayment you’d need to make is shown for each product, alongside the initial interest rate, APRC, and relevant product fee. To narrow your search even further there are dropdown menus at the top where you can choose your initial period, repayment type, mortgage type and features you’d like your mortgage to include.
How to apply for a bad credit mortgage
In the same way as when you apply for a mortgage of any kind, a bad credit mortgage lender will want to see documents such as your driving license, passport or utility bills that can prove your identity and address. Similarly, you’ll need to supply payslips and bank statements to prove your income.
While requirements can vary between lenders, a bad credit mortgage lender is likely to want to delve much deeper too, so expect questions about your credit history, and when and why your credit problems came about. Details surrounding payment defaults, CCJs, IVAs and any bankruptcy will all probably have to be shared, and you might need to provide additional evidence to prove the issues are either being dealt with or in the past.
Advantages of a bad credit mortgage
- You’re making your way onto the property ladder sooner rather than later.
- Securing a mortgage and making repayments could improve your credit score.
Disadvantages of a bad credit mortgage
- You’re choosing from a much smaller pool of mortgage options.
- You’ll likely end up paying higher rates of interest than on a conventional mortgage.
- You’ll usually need a large deposit to secure a bad credit mortgage.
Alternatives to a bad credit mortgage
If the prospect of taking out a bad credit mortgage isn’t for you, it’s unaffordable or you’re getting rejected, the following options may be able to help:
Improve your credit score
It may be difficult if you’ve spotted the home you’ve always dreamt of, but taking the time to try and improve your credit score could open the door to the more mainstream lenders and a wider range of mortgage deals. Making sure you’re on the electoral roll, getting errors removed from your credit report, and setting up direct debits to avoid being late with bills and loan repayments are some of the steps you can take.
If you haven’t yet established a notable credit history, perhaps consider a credit builder card, or you could take out a standard credit card, spend on it carefully, and be sure to pay off all that you owe each month. It may be three months before your credit score reflects your efforts, but could be time well spent if it means you’ll improve your credit score.
» MORE: How to improve your credit score
Another potential alternative is to take out a guarantor mortgage, on which a member of your family is named as a guarantor who will step in to cover your payments if you do not make them. A guarantor is almost always needed if you wish to secure a 100% mortgage.
Importantly, however, you will still undergo a credit check when applying, and so will your guarantor. This is necessary so that the lender knows they can be relied upon to meet the payments if required.
Bad Credit Mortgages FAQs
How can I improve my chances of getting a mortgage?
Your credit score is key to securing a mortgage, so make sure it is as good as it can be. The bigger the deposit that you have, the wider the mortgage choice that should be available to you too, so get saving too. For example, a Lifetime ISA and the bonus that it can pay can help boost your deposit, if you are eligible. Also explore all the lenders that you can and consider using a mortgage broker if you’re running out of options, as they can often access providers and products that individuals can’t.
How do I check my credit record?
Keeping a close check on your credit score is advisable anyway, but becomes even more important if you’re about to apply for a credit card, loan or mortgage. You can request access to the credit score and associated history that each of the UK’s major credit agencies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion - hold for you without charge and at any time.
» MORE: How to apply for a credit card
Can I get a mortgage if my house was repossessed?
Securing a mortgage after repossession will have its complications but can still be achievable. How long ago your home was repossessed is often key, with your chances of success rising steadily if it was three years ago or more, and you approach a bad credit lender or broker. If at least six years have passed, you’re in a better position still, and may need only a 5% deposit to get started. Why your home was repossessed and how much you defaulted on will also usually be assessed.
Can I remortgage with bad credit?
Yes, you should be able to remortgage with bad credit, particularly if your credit concerns are small, such as a solitary missed repayment. If your credit situation is more severe, remortgaging with your current mortgage lender could be the safest option, especially if you’ve met all of your payments and your borrowing requirements are unchanged. Moving to another lender may also be possible, but as a new customer, everything will be under scrutiny.
Can I get a shared ownership mortgage with bad credit?
Getting a shared ownership mortgage with bad credit is very unlikely, particularly as you will need to satisfy the requirements of both the housing association you want to buy from and a lender. If you wish to try, make sure your credit rating is as good as it can be before you begin the process.
Can I get a bad credit mortgage as a first-time buyer?
While it’s not impossible for first-time buyers to secure a bad credit mortgage, it’s unlikely to prove easy. The main barrier is often a lack of meaningful credit history around which lenders base their lending decisions. Demonstrating that you can manage credit sensibly, perhaps by spending on a credit card and then paying it off each month, could improve your chances.
Can I get a buy to let bad credit mortgage?
In order to get a buy to let mortgage, you will typically need good credit and be able to demonstrate you’re on top of your other lending obligations. There are some buy to let lenders who may be willing to listen if you have bad credit, but you’ll probably need to use a specialist mortgage broker to access them.
Has the coronavirus pandemic impacted my chances of a bad credit mortgage?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes, Covid-19 has made it harder to access not just bad credit mortgages, but standard mortgages too. Lender appetite for taking on risk diminished as the crisis took hold, meaning fewer low-deposit mortgages have been available and lenders adopting greater caution over who they are willing to lend to. With those seeking bad credit mortgages among the borrowers that lenders deem the riskiest anyway, their chances of securing a mortgage have not been made any easier by the pandemic.
Tim draws on 20 years’ experience at Virgin Money, Moneyfacts and Future to pen articles that always put consumers’ interests first. He has particular expertise in mortgages, pensions and savings. Read more