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Agreement in Principle and Soft Credit Searches

Mortgage Advice in Beverley

More and more people these days pay much closer attention to their credit rating, especially First Time Buyers as they tend to worry about being accepted. Consumer awareness of credit scoring is higher now than ever before. We’d say at least half of the people who contact us for the first time, have already looked at their credit report online.

There are many different credit reference agencies out there. Most people will have heard of Experian or Equifax, but we recommend potential new clients to use Check My File for a 30-day free trial, which is £14.99 a month thereafter and can be cancelled at any time. This is because of this report “sweeps” several of those reference agencies and collates the information into an easily understandable colour-coded report.

Often, clients ask if we will be doing a credit search on them, because they are aware that too many searches can have an adverse effect on their credit score. Lenders always run credit checks but we always seek a client’s permission before doing so. There are 2 different types of credit searches that Banks can run on a customer: hard searches or soft ones.

What is a hard credit search?

A hard credit search is an in-depth look at your credit report. Any financial institution carrying out one of these should seek your permission to do so. The advantage of a “hard” search is the lender is looking into your situation quite closely. If you pass the credit score then it’s fairly likely that your application will ultimately be successful. The only thing that can really go wrong from then on, is if for some reason you cannot provide satisfactory documentation to back up the information you have disclosed. Either that, or it turns out you have provided false details.

The bad news about a hard search though is that it leaves a “footprint” on your credit file. This means anyone who looks at your report in the future can see you have had a search carried out. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you have several footprints registered in a short period of time then it could look like you applying for lots of credit at the same time.

The footprint does not state whether your application was successful or not. However, if you have several searches over a few weeks, then lenders’ systems could wrongly assume you are being declined on the basis of; “Why else would you go to lender number 2 unless lender number 1 had said no?”.

The odd hard footprint on your record from time to time is no big deal. There’s no need to worry too much about this, just be careful not to have too many.

What is a soft credit search?

A soft credit search is a “lighter touch” look at your financial situation. This is the kind of search that would routinely be carried out on price comparison websites. This would give you an indication of what products might be available to you. It can also be useful if someone wants to verify your identity.

Some mortgage lenders do soft searches in the first instance. More and more lenders seem to be changing to doing this type of search. Whilst the financial institution doing a soft search obtains less information about you than if they had done a hard search, an agreement in principle from one of these lenders is usually still an extremely strong signal that your full application will be accepted.

You will be able to see that someone has carried out a soft search on you if you check your credit file. The good news though, is that these searches are not visible to other financial institutions like banks. This means that you can apply for an agreement in principle for a mortgage, without it damaging your credit score. This is irrespective of whether it is successful or not.

If you are wanting to make an offer on a property, we always think it is an excellent idea to have your mortgage agreement in principle in place prior to contacting the estate agent. You want to give yourselves the best possible chance of securing the property you want at the lowest price so if you can present yourselves as having your finances in place then you are definitely putting yourself in a stronger position. Having the agreement in principle also sometimes puts the agent off trying to “cross-sell” their own in-house mortgage services to you.

How Much Can I Borrow For A Mortgage in Beverley?

Mortgage Advice in Beverley

The two most common questions we are asked on a daily basis are, “Can I get a mortgage in my situation?” and “How much can I borrow?”. In this article, we explain the latter which has changed quite a lot in the past decade.

Historic Rules

Back in the ’80s and ’90s, most mortgage applications were manually underwritten. That is to say, there was lots of “human intervention” in the process of approving mortgage applications. You’d make an appointment with your Building Society Manager, and they would interview you.

They would encourage you to save with them for a while until you prove yourself credit-worthy. The manager would then grant you the equivalent of an agreement in principle. This would then be followed by advice on how much they were prepared to lend.

This sounds very much like a highly personalised process with a common-sense approach. That being said, it could lead to inconsistent decision-making. The manager has the discretion to interpret the lending manual. In other words, it would be possible to approach the same Building Society in a different town or city. You could possibly obtain a different outcome.

With a view to eradicating the above and more importantly, cut costs, Lenders moved to automated affordability calculations. “Caps” were applied so they would lend you more than, say, 3 or 4 times your household income.

As the 2000s progressed, lenders were becoming more and more generous in how much they would lend. Some lenders would offer self-certified mortgages. This was where no background checks would be carried out as regards how much an applicant actually was earning!

The market crashed and to all intents and purposes, 2008-2010 were very difficult years if you were trying to get on the property ladder. The lenders battened down the hatches and created a very cautious (over-corrected) lending environment.

Nowadays Approach

The market recovered and in 2014 the regulator launched the Mortgage Market Review (MMR). This was a new set of guidelines for Lenders to adhere to. Gone were the old-style income multipliers which took little account of household expenditure. Before 2014, two applicants earning the same could borrow roughly the same as each other.

This was irrespective of how much they spent each month. Then came new affordability models. These took a much more forensic view of how mortgage applicants managed their money on a monthly basis.

There is still a “cap” in place (most Lenders will not go past 4.75 times your annual income) but your spending habits are analysed also. So, for example, if you have high childcare costs, lots of credit commitments and a student loan you will be offered less than your work-colleague who doesn’t have any of that expenditure.

We are still constantly surprised by the large variances lender to lender in how much (or little) they will lend. Some lenders seem to penalise low-earners (perhaps they are not looking for that type of applicant), some take pension contributions as a fixed outgoing so would often lend, say a public sector worker with a big pension deduction less than a private sector and so on.

It really is horses for courses and if you need to maximise your borrowing capability to obtain the home you need to buy then you’ll definitely need a Mortgage Broker in Beverley on your side who can research the market on your behalf to see if anyone will lend you the amount you need.

Don’t Pretend You Live Somewhere You Don’t

Mortgage Advice in Beverley

When it comes to applying for a mortgage and your credit score, the fewer addresses you have on your record the better, however it seems that people are becoming savvier and aware of this.

We are now seeing more and more applicants who have moved out of their parents address into rented accommodation but think that it is a good idea to leave their bank statements, credit card and Electoral Roll information registered at their previous address.

There are good reasons why people do this, however, I’m afraid this is now a flawed strategy. Almost without fail, if you have moved to a new address, there will be some record of this on your credit report. This could be from a delivery address when you have ordered something online or a car/home insurance search and many more.

By far a better strategy for you if you are thinking about taking out a mortgage is to get all of your accounts (credit cards / current accounts) and electoral roll changed over to your new address. When updating your address on your credit file and electoral roll ensure you double check the date in and date out. If you do make a mistake with these dates it can appear that you are living in two places at the same time.
This is a more open and honest way of trying to apply for a mortgage.

Mortgage Broker in Beverley

Confused About the Help to Buy Schemes?

Whilst it is widely accepted that there is a national housing shortage, the government has launched several schemes over the years. These have been under the “Help to Buy” banner, designed to get people onto the property ladder.

Unfortunately calling all the schemes Help to Buy has caused confusion amongst consumers! Here’s a look at what’s out there right now.

Schemes Currently Available

Help to Buy Equity Loan

This is the most popular scheme and is available on new build properties only. You will have seen houses being built all around Hull and Beverley. The government will lend you up to 20% of the purchase price. Usually, my customers put down a 5% deposit and take out a 75% mortgage for the rest. Remember, it’s a loan not a gift and the government have a stake in your new home until you pay them back.

Forces Help to Buy

If you’re in the armed forces, you can borrow up to 50% of your salary, up to a maximum of £25,000 interest-free towards a new home.

Some FAQs about the Help to Buy Schemes

What if I’m Self Employed?

If you’re Self Employed in Beverley, there are still a lot of options available to you. It’s a good idea to get hold of your Accountant and speak to a mortgage broker in Beverley for mortgage advice.

Do I have to buy a new build house?

Yes and no, the Help to Buy Equity Loan is for new build properties only. The Forces Help to Buy can be a new or old property.

Do you need a good credit rating?

There may be options available to you even if you have a poor credit score. Mortgage lenders are becoming increasingly competitive on criteria and many challenger banks are entering the market. Again, please seek mortgage advice from a reliable mortgage expert!

How much deposit do I need?

A minimum of 5% as a rule.

Can my deposit be gifted by my parents?

Yes, family members and sometimes friends can gift (not a loan). This is a popular way for First Time Buyers to get on the property ladder. It’s also popular for home movers moving to a bigger home. In a recent Government Survey, 27% of such buyers relied on family and friends to help with a deposit.

Do I need to pay the government back?

Yes, with the Help to Buy Equity Scheme the government loan is interest-free for 5 years. After this, you’ll pay fees. Hopefully, the property will have increased in value and you can potentially remortgage the property at any time. This likely would be to raise funds to increase your share. Remember, the government will also receive their share of any profit made.

Is Help to Buy just for First Time Buyers?

The Help to Buy Equity Loan and the Forces Help to Buy Scheme are for both First Time Buyers in Beverley and Home Movers in Beverley. However, the Help to Buy Equity Loan is designed specifically for those who have never owned a property.

How do I use the Help to Buy Scheme?

The first stage would be to have a free mortgage consultation. This is to work out your maximum borrowing and also to get a mortgage agreement in principle certificate. This puts you in a strong position to make an offer. Once you have this in place you’ll be a “Qualified Buyer”, the next step is to go and view houses!

For more information and further terms and conditions about any of the above schemes please refer to the https://www.ownyourhome.gov.uk/ website.

UK Moneyman Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
UK Moneyman Limited registered in England, registered number 6789312 and registered office 10 Consort Court, Hull, HU9 1PU.

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