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Mortgage lenders are now obligated to look at long-term “affordability” when calculating whether or not to offer a mortgage.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can create challenges for people in unusual situations, especially for those who have a bad credit record.  Fortunately, these challenges often be overcome.  Here are some tips.

Make your credit record as good as it can be

There may be nothing you can do about your credit record being bad, but there may be some actions you can take to limit the damage.  Make sure you take care of any “quick wins” such as making sure that you are listed on the electoral roll.  Similarly, make sure that you check for any mistakes as you can ask for these to be rectified.

Depending on the situation you may even want to see if you can get any “black marks” removed, for example, if you defaulted on a debt, but can now afford to pay it, then you might want to try reaching out to the company and seeing if they will take your payment and remove the mark.

Make a point of managing your finances impeccably

This is partly an extension of the previous point and partly a reflection of the need to practice good financial management in general.  Basically, you want to be in a position where you can convince lenders that you really have dealt with whatever issues messed up your credit file in the first place.  Acting responsibly for a month or two is unlikely to impress anyone, but acting responsibly for a year or two is more likely to be taken seriously.

In short, even if your credit record is “bad”, if the issues were in the past and you can clearly demonstrate that you’ve now sorted yourself out, then you can really improve your chances of being taken seriously by lenders.

Build as big a deposit as you possibly can

Admittedly this holds true for just about everyone in the UK (and quite possibly in other countries as well) but it has particular relevance for borrowers with bad credit.  Basically, the more of the purchase price you can pay upfront, the less the lender is at risk in the event that you default, or, to put it another way, the more chance there is that they’ll recover the full loan principal from the sale of the house, even if it takes place in a buyer’s market.

With this in mind, depending on your situation, you may want to look at properties that have room for some kind of expansion, for example, space at the side, an attic or a basement.  That way you could take out the mortgage on the price of the house “as is” and then increase the usable space later when your credit record has improved (if only through time).

If you’re thinking about going down this route, be sure to consider all the implications.  For example, you might want to research the likelihood of you needing planning permission (and if so your chances of getting it) and think about the level of potential disruption building works could involve.

Go through a specialist mortgage broker

Simply put, if you’re a potential borrower with a bad credit record then you’re the proverbial square peg in a round hole.  In other words, you’re exactly the sort of person who’s likely to struggle with algorithms and automated scoring and, by contrast, to get particular benefit from “the human touch”.  A good mortgage broker will take time to listen to you and understand your situation and as well as having a good knowledge of available mortgage products, they may also have professional contacts with lenders to help get your application past computers and in front of actual people.

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