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Get your finances in order



Summary

Having a good credit score, being registered to vote, and knowing how to budget will help with your mortgage application.

Check your credit score

Showing you can manage your personal finances is the first important step in getting a mortgage. And one of the best ways to do this is by maintaining a good credit score.

A good credit rating will improve your chances of getting a mortgage. But it’s not the only factor lenders will take into account. For example, a limited credit history can also impact a lender’s decision.

That’s why registering to vote, paying your bills on time, and staying out of your overdraft are all important steps before applying for a mortgage.

To review your credit score, you can download copies of your files through:

Clear Score

Experian

Equifax Credit Report

Noddle

There may be a fee incurred for each of these services.

Fix any mistakes in your credit score

If your credit file information is wrong, you have the right to do something about it - either having the error fixed or, at the very least, having your say.

Your first step should be to check where the error came from. If the credit file error is held with another agency, then it’s a good idea to notify your lender.

If this doesn’t work, then the Financial Ombudsman Service offers free and impartial advice about correcting mistakes in your credit score.

Make sure you’re registered to vote

Having a good credit score doesn't necessarily mean you'll get a mortgage if you aren't registered on the electoral roll.

That’s because lenders use electoral roll data to carry out identity checks - specifically to confirm your name and address.

If you aren’t registered to vote, you risk delaying your application or - worse - not being accepted at all. You can register to vote by contacting your local council, but please be aware that this could take one month or more - depending on the season.

If you aren't a UK or EU national and therefore aren't registered to vote, then you can put a notice of correction on your credit file. The lender will then request another form of identification.

Be aware of old joint accounts

If you are financially linked to someone else, like an ex-partner or old flatmate, this could have a negative impact on your credit score.

When you apply for joint credit with someone (like opening a joint bank account), you both take responsibility for ensuring payments are made on time. So, if you don’t formally disassociate yourself from this person, it could impact your credit rating too.

If you still have a joint bank account with an ex-partner or old flatmate, please write to your credit agency and ask for a ‘notice of disassociation’.

Even if the person you’re linked to has a good history now, you still risk problems in future if they miss payments.

Manage your available credit

Managing your credit limit is about striking a balance in your everyday spending.

It means not having too much available balance - as you could rack up more debt by spending it all - and not getting too close to your limit, which could suggest you may be struggling financially.

According to Experian, if you owe money, then it’s better if your debt makes up less than half of your available credit. For example, if you have a total credit limit of £10,000 on your credit card and overdraft, then it’s better to spend only £5,000 on debt repayments.

But it’s also good to avoid having thousands of pounds of available credit in your account. New lenders could get twitchy that you may suddenly become more indebted than you currently are.

Pay your bills on time

Some missed payments could count towards your credit file.

Defaults count against you for at least a year, and they’ll stay on your file for the next 6 years.

Unfortunately, this means that missing just one mobile phone payment could be the difference between getting a mortgage and not.

Set up a Direct Debit on all accounts to make sure payments are made on time.

Don't apply for credit shortly before a mortgage

Try to avoid applying for credit in the three months before getting a mortgage - it could hinder your score and lead to rejection.

This is because lenders will search your credit file every time you apply for a loan, credit card, overdraft, or even a mobile phone or utility contract. This search is registered on your file even if you don't take out the contract.

The more searches you have in a short time, the less likely you are to be granted credit.

Stay out of your overdraft

If you're constantly in your overdraft, this could be seen as living close to the edge of your finances, so avoid it if possible.

Plan your budget

Having a budget is always a great place to start, and makes it easy for you to plan ahead. Having a budget calculator makes this even easier – and all you have to do is fill in all your monthly incomings and outgoings to estimate how much money you’ll have left over based on your figures.

Make sure you factor in any differences in monthly utility bills and council tax payments. Money Saving Expert has a budget planner ready to use. And remember, the more accurate you are with the figures, the more accurate the estimate will be.

Check your eligibility

Get a mortgage in principle to see if you're eligible for a mortgage with us and to check how much you could borrow.

  • There's no impact on your credit score.
  • A mortgage in principle is not a commitment to lend. For that you'll need to go through a full application process.

Online

See if you're eligible, instantly, any time.

Can I get a mortgage in principle online? Get a mortgage in principle

On the phone

Talk to one of our friendly mortgage advisers.

Call us to talk to an advisor

08000 288 288

Monday - Friday 8am - 8pm

Saturday 9am - 1pm

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Find your mortgage

Compare our rates and see which mortgages option is right for you.

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Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage

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Important information

General information for regulated mortgages

Download General information for regulated mortgages PDF (210KB)

How we use your personal information

Download How we use your personal information PDF (622KB)

Mortgages legal information

Read more

The Co-operative Bank reserves the right to change or withdraw any of its mortgage deals at any time. All loans are subject to status and valuation.