The Unbiased Mortgage Checklist

First published 19 November 2019 • Updated 19 November 2019

Mortgage Checklist

If you’re about to set off in search of the best mortgage deal, this will help you prepare. You can make sure you have all the right information ready when meeting your mortgage broker – and even test your application in advance with our free Mortgage Fitness Checker.

Securing the best possible mortgage deal is always a challenge. Providers will look for flaws in your application, so this mortgage checklist will help you address and fix most of the key pain points first.

Just go through the list and see how many questions you can answer ‘Yes’ to. Or, if you’re pushed for time, just use our online Mortgage Fitness Checker to get a quick estimate of your mortgage readiness!

Ready? Let’s go.

Preparing for your mortgage application

Lenders will ask you searching questions about your job, income, expenditure and other financial commitments, so be prepared. See how many of these you can answer ‘Yes’ to.

  • Do you have three recent payslips and/or bank statements ready to show?
  • Have you reduced or eliminated other liabilities (e.g. debts, non-essential outgoings)?
  • Have you looked at your spending patterns to see if anything might cause lenders concern (e.g. gambling, expensive holidays, luxury items) and reduced these if possible?
  • Is your deposit as large as you can make it? With a larger deposit you can get a lower interest rate and a smaller mortgage, and so pay less overall.
  • Have you calculated your total regular monthly expenditure to see how much you can afford in additional payments?

Is your credit score good enough?

Mortgage providers will run a credit check on you, to find out about your track record at repaying debts. The more evidence that you have that you borrow and repay responsibly, the better your prospects of getting a mortgage.

Here are some key factors in a good credit score (‘Yes’ answers are good):

  • Are you on the electoral roll at your current address?
  • Do your bills come direct to you at this address too?
  • Do you have a history of borrowing and repaying money on time? (If you don’t use a credit card, start doing so and repay the balance in full to create a solid credit history.)
  • Have you closed any unused credit card or store card accounts?
  • Have you broken any unwanted financial ties (e.g. joint bank accounts) with anyone who might have a poor credit rating?

Bear in mind that there are three credit reference agencies (CRAs) in the UK, all with different ways of assessing your creditworthiness and assigning a credit score. They also use different scoring scales. Some mortgage lenders will use particular CRAs and not the others, while some may refer to all three. Furthermore, different lenders may assess lending risk differently. In short, one rejection on the grounds of credit is not a reason to give up, as other lenders may treat you more favourably.

That said, it’s still worth getting your credit file looking as good as it possibly can.

Finding yourself the right mortgage

When talking with your mortgage adviser to compare the best deals, it is vital to take all costs and other factors into account, to ensure that you can afford your mortgage both in the short and long term.

First, consider the length of your mortgage

How long do you want your mortgage term to be? A typical mortgage is for 25 years. A shorter mortgage means higher monthly payments but is cheaper overall, while a longer mortgage means lower monthly cost but you pay more in total.

Next, consider the kind of mortgage deal you want

The most important factor in a mortgage deal is the level of interest, how (or whether) this interest rate may fluctuate, and how long this arrangement lasts.

For example, a fixed-rate mortgage will ensure you pay the same interest for as long as the deal lasts, no matter how much the base rate rises. You can also find deals (such as tracker mortgages) where the interest rate changes if the base rate changes. This may be recommended if interest rates are high when you take out the loan (as then they may fall).

Remember, mortgage deals don’t last for the full mortgage term, but usually last only two, three or five years. After this, the interest rate reverts to the lender’s standard variable rate (SVR).

Here are the key questions to consider when comparing deals:

  • Have you discussed mortgage rates with your adviser?
  • Have you asked your adviser about remortgaging costs if you need to switch mortgages after your offer period expires?
  • Will your deal let you move to a new mortgage when your offer period expires, or will you be tied in to an expensive SVR?
  • Have you spoken with your adviser about mortgage fees and included these into your costs?
  • Could you get a better interest rate (and so pay less overall) by paying higher mortgage fees?

Find out more about mortgage deals.

Making sure you can afford your mortgage

It’s easy to focus so much on your mortgage that you lose track of the many other costs involved in buying and selling property. These costs can have an impact on how much you need to borrow, so may affect the terms of your deal.

Bear the following in mind when working out how much you can borrow.

  • Have you made a list of the other costs involved in buying a property?
  • How much stamp duty land tax will you have to pay on the property you are buying?

Stamp duty is calculated in a series of ‘slices’ of the total property price, as shown here:

Portion of home purchase price

Rate of stamp duty

£0 - £125,000

0%

£125,001 - £250,000

2%

£250,001 - £925,000

5%

£925,001 - £1.5 million

10%

Conveyancing costs

The legal costs involved in buying (and selling) a home can eat into your savings, reducing the amount available for your deposit. Make sure you factor these in.

  • Do you know what your conveyancing costs will be?
  • Are you also selling a property? Have you included these conveyancing costs too?
  • Have you chosen a solicitor or licensed conveyancer?

Find out about the costs of conveyancing.

Other homebuying costs

Now you need to think about the other associated costs of buying a home, such as surveys and insurance.

  • Carefully consider the type of survey you may need. The options are:
    • a condition report (the cheapest option, but provides only low-level detail)
    • a homebuyer report (more costly, but also more detailed – the most popular choice)
    • a building survey (the most expensive, but often a must for older properties that may have hidden problems. Also known as a full structural survey)
  • How much will home insurance (legally required) add to your costs?
  • Do you also want to take out life or term insurance cost? This will ensure that your mortgage will be paid off in full in the event of a mortgage holder’s death.
  • Will you also be taking out contents insurance?
  • If you are also selling a property, have you commissioned an energy performance certificate?

Find out more about the costs of moving home.

Are you ready for your mortgage application?

You should now be able to build a much clearer picture of the kind of mortgage you want, how much you can afford to repay, and how you will do this. If there are questions here you don’t yet know how to answer, discuss these with your mortgage adviser who will be happy to help.

You can also test your mortgage readiness online with our free Mortgage Fitness Checker.

Let us match you to your
perfect mortgage adviser

About the author
Nick Green
Nick Green
Nick Green is a financial journalist writing for Unbiased.co.uk, the site that has helped over 10 million people find financial, business and legal advice. Nick has been writing professionally on money and business topics for over 15 years, and has previously written for leading accountancy firms PKF and BDO.