A reader asked:
My partner and I have a combined income of £54,000, We have a deposit of £20,000 (inheritance) and are looking to become first time buyers in a new build property at a price of £210,000. We have defaulted debts that are being paid off, and previous history of payday loans from over 2 years ago from a time when our financial situation was much more difficult.
The defaults are now about 6 months old as we started to try and tidy things up when we knew the money was coming to us. We currently owe around £6,000 on the defaulted debts between us, and we have no other debts or finance. I have an active credit card, and we both have a mobile phone contract in our own names, but that’s all.
What are the chances of us being offered any kind of mortgage?
If you want a mortgage right now
Most of the suggestions below will take some time to improve your mortgage chances. If you want a mortgage straight away, you are going to have to go to a “bad credit” broker. This will cost you more in fees – be very clear about what the fees are before you sign anything. Also the mortgage is likely to be at a much less good rate.
Some people are told:
“This will just be for a couple of years, then you can re-mortgage with a high street lender at a better rate.“
You can’t rely on that happening!
Your own financial situation may be more difficult in a few years – perhaps you have a baby on the way which will affect the mortgage affordability calculations.
And even if you are fine, who knows what the mortgage market will be like in a couple of years after the first lockdown? Will the economy and lending be back to normal? Will house prices have dropped so your 15% deposit is now only 5%?
Paying off the defaults
Paying off the defaults is the first key step towards getting a mortgage at a reasonable rate from a high street lender. You want to pay them off as soon as possible so a mortgage lender can see that your problems were all in the past.
These debts don’t have to be paid in full – a partial settlement may be acceptable to some mortgage lenders.
When the defaults have all been settled more than a years ago and you have had a year free of any credit record problems, you are more likely to be able to get an OK mortgage offer.
If you already have the inheritance in your bank accounts, then it would be best to use some of that right now and repay the defaults, then start resaving the deposit money that has now reduced.
Say you can afford to pay £400 a month off your debts – that would take 15 months to clear the defaults. If you clear them now and then save that £400 a month, in 15 months time you will have your current deposit back, but your credit records will be looking much better as you will have had 15 months clear of any problems.
Check the default date is correct
Paying off the defaults doesn’t actually help your credit rating and it won’t make the defaults disappear. They will stay for six years from the first default date.
So it’s worth checking if you think the default date is correct. If any of them should have been earlier, see if you can get the default date changed as that means the debt will vanish sooner.
It also helps if the defaults are older. A mortgage lender would rather see you had problems 5 years ago than problems last year.
The best way to build up your deposit again would be by regular monthly saving into a Lifetime ISA if you are aged 18-39 and this will be the first property you buy. MSE has a good guide to LISAs.
So get an LISA each to maximise the help you can get! Whilst you are saving there four good things happen:
- the defaults are getting older;
- your deposit is getting bigger
- you are getting a bonus from the government; and
- it is showing a future lender that your money problems really were in the past and you can afford to put money aside from your income.
Of course during this period you also need to be fanatical about making sure all your credit cards and bills are paid on time. The last thing you want is a new late payment showing on your file… Use your credit card every month and pay it off in full every month.
What about the old payday loans?
If the payday loans are already over two years old, most mortgage lenders won’t care that much about them. And if you are taking the next year to improve your general position then they are getting even older.
However, how much did you use payday loans? If it was a lot for a period, then you should read my article on Can I get a payday loan refund? and see if you might be able to get any compensation. If you do win a complaint about these, the lender will normally delete the record from your credit file – so that might even get rid of some of the defaults.
Any money you can get back will mean you have a bigger deposit – and the larger your deposit is, the more lenders there will be that may lend despite the defaults on your credit records.
Then talk to a broker
When you have saved your deposit up again and the defaults have got older, you need to talk to a mortgage broker.
Some high street lenders say they won’t consider a mortgage with defaults in the past three years. Some won’t lend to you at all with defaults – you need to avoid applying to these lenders. A broker will be able to advise you – at this point though you shouldn’t need to go to a bad credit broker.
In mid 2020, the deposit you need has gone up – there are no 5% deposit offers and very few 10% offers.