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About Bad Credit Mortgages
It can be harder to get a mortgage with bad credit, but it’s still possible. Just choose the type of bad credit mortgage you’re looking for above, answer a few questions and compare options from specialist lenders matched to your search criteria.
Think carefully about securing debt against your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage
Can you get a mortgage with bad credit?
Although it can be more difficult than if you had a good credit score, it is possible to get a mortgage if you have bad credit.
Mortgage lenders carry out a credit check when deciding whether to approve your application for a home loan. This is because mortgage companies need to assess whether you can be relied upon to keep up with repayments on the amount you want to borrow, or whether you pose a risk of not paying.
Generally speaking, if you have a good credit score and you meet the lender’s affordability tests, a mortgage offer with competitive mortgage rates could be yours.
However, if you have a poor credit history, lenders have another decision to make. They could turn you down for a mortgage altogether or offer you a mortgage with higher interest rates to account for the increased risk they consider you to pose, based on your credit history. This type of home loan is known as a bad credit mortgage.
Importantly, lenders will have different criteria for 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 willing to give you a chance.
What is a bad credit mortgage?
A bad credit mortgage is designed to help borrowers who have a poor credit history access a home loan.
Sometimes known as subprime 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 might need a minimum deposit of 25% of the property value, compared to the 5% or 10% typically required for a standard mortgage.
Bad credit mortgage interest rates are usually much higher than what you would 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 chances of a mortgage?
Having bad credit can make getting a mortgage more difficult. That’s because 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.
Missed or late payments can negatively affect your credit score and harm your chances of being approved for a mortgage. Having county court judgments (CCJs) or recently being declared bankrupt can seriously affect your credit score too and ring alarm bells with a prospective mortgage lender.
The same goes for borrowers with little or no credit history at all. Without a good credit history to prove how well you manage paying off debt, lenders may be less likely to approve your mortgage application. In some cases lenders will refuse applications with previous adverse credit history and bankruptcy for a certain time period no matter the credit score at the time of application.
Major debt issues that can affect getting a mortgage
Serious debt problems can affect your chances of getting a mortgage. These include:
Individual voluntary arrangement (IVA): An IVA is a formal agreement with creditors whereby a freeze is put on what you owe. You are 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 specific debts 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. Some lenders may consider a mortgage application if your CCJ is settled and over three years old.
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 check whether you have a chance of getting a standard mortgage first. Getting a copy of your credit record and seeking advice from a qualified independent mortgage broker could help you get a better idea of the options available to you.
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 will 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 tool 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 can prove a difficult hurdle for some to overcome. As an example, the deposit you’ll need on a property worth £100,000 will be £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 and credit card statements and a calculator 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 using the NerdWallet comparison tool
Our comparison tool above is the easiest way to find the right bad credit mortgage for you.
Choose the reason for your borrowing: whether you are a first-time buyer, moving home, remortgaging or looking for a buy-to-let property. Then answer simple questions about the property value, mortgage amount and term length, and you will see the bad credit mortgages that are available.
An indication of the monthly repayment you would need to make is shown for each product, alongside the initial interest rate, relevant product fee and APRC.
The Annual Percentage Rate of Charge, or APRC, will help you to compare mortgage products as it not only includes the interest rate but also any additional fees and charges.
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 licence, passport or utility bills as proof of 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 and disadvantages of a bad credit mortgage
Some of the advantages of a bad credit mortgage include:
- If you’re a first-time buyer, you’ll be getting on the property ladder sooner rather than later.
- Securing a mortgage and making repayments on time could improve your credit score.
Some risks to consider before applying for a bad credit mortgage include:
- 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 to 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 it could be time well spent if it means you’ll improve your credit score and widen your choice of mortgage deals. Do not apply for a credit card if you are likely to get turned down by your existing credit profile. Use an eligibility checker service before applying to avoid further damaging your credit score by a declined application.
» 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. You will almost always need a guarantor if you wish to secure a 100% mortgage.
Importantly, 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. Use 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 check your credit score and credit report through each of the UK’s major credit agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
» 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 in a few circumstances. 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, your financial affairs will be under scrutiny.
Can I get a shared ownership mortgage with bad credit?
Getting a shared ownership mortgage with bad credit can be very difficult, 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?
First-time buyers can secure a bad credit mortgage in some cases, but it can be tricky to get approved by a lender. 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.
What is the lowest score for a bad credit mortgage?
There is no single credit score that lenders use to approve a bad credit mortgage. Each mortgage provider will have its own lending criteria. Whenever you apply for a mortgage lenders will look at your credit history to see how reliable you are at paying off your debt.
You can improve your chances of getting a mortgage by taking steps to boost your credit score. For example, registering to vote and keeping up with debt repayments and utility bills can help improve your credit rating.
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. Some buy-to-let lenders may be willing to consider your application if you have bad credit. But you’ll probably need to use a specialist mortgage broker to access them.
Has the Covid-19 pandemic affected 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 whom 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.
Brean is a personal finance writer at NerdWallet. She covers a range of financial topics and has written for consumer titles including Which?, Moneywise and The Motley Fool. Read more
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