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Can I get a mortgage?

Wondering whether you can get a mortgage? Your mortgage eligibility determines whether you qualify for a home loan and the terms you’ll be offered. We’ll cover the mortgage requirements and criteria that affect your chances, and provide tips to help you navigate the process.

Wondering whether you can get a mortgage? Your mortgage eligibility determines whether you qualify for a home loan and the terms you’ll be offered. We’ll cover the mortgage requirements and criteria that affect your chances, and provide tips to help you navigate the process.

Written by
Alex Hasty
Insurance comparison and finance expert
Last Updated
18 APRIL 2023
5 min read
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What affects mortgage eligibility?

Each mortgage lender decides their own criteria for lending money. This means that while some lenders might turn you down, others may not. 

When it comes to mortgage requirements, lenders generally base eligibility on the following criteria

  • How much you want to borrow
  • Your deposit 
  • What kind of property you want to buy – it can be harder to find a lender willing to lend on high-rise flats, ex-local authority property, homes made from non-standard materials, properties above cafés and bars, and listed properties, for example  
  • Your employment status (the longer you’ve been in your job, the better) 
  • Any debts you have 
  • Your regular spending 
  • Your credit rating
  • Whether the mortgage is affordable for you

Use our mortgage calculator to get an idea of how much you could be eligible to borrow.

Mortgage calculator

What mortgage requirements do lenders set?

Before a mortgage lender will lend you money to buy a home, they want to make sure you can repay the loan. They’ll look at:

Your deposit
The bigger your deposit, the better your loan-to-value ratio (LTV) will be. LTV is the percentage of the property value you’ll need to borrow with your mortgage. So, a 20% deposit would create an 80% LTV, while a 10% deposit would create a 90% LTV. The lower the LTV, the more chance you have of being accepted for a mortgage.

Your income
Lenders usually want to see your most recent P60 and three to six months of recent payslips. Some lenders may also look at government benefits and child maintenance. If you’re self-employed, you’ll typically be asked for documents that show a steady income over the past year (preferably two or three years). Most lenders now accept HMRC’s SA302 form as verification of income.

Your monthly spending
You may be asked about outstanding loans, credit cards, household bills and insurance policies. Lenders will also want to know about other regular expenses, like child or spousal maintenance, school fees, childcare and travel to work costs. They may also ask you to estimate other living costs, like how much you spend on clothes and going out. You may need to provide bank statements to back up your figures.

Your credit score
Your credit score gives lenders an indication of how reliable a borrower you are. A high credit score will improve your chances of being accepted for a mortgage. It will also give you access to a better mortgage deal with a lower interest rate.

Your age
You must be over 18 to qualify for a UK mortgage. However, lenders may also have an upper age limit for mortgage acceptance. In most cases, they’ll expect you to pay off the entire mortgage before you turn 75.

Future scenarios 
Lenders will stress test how likely you are to make your mortgage repayments if your circumstances change – if interest rates rise, for example, or if you’re made redundant or have a baby. For example, a lender may “stress” their mortgage rate by 3% to see if it’s still affordable.

If you’re taking out a joint mortgage, lenders will look at the finances of everyone involved.

Top tip 
Check your credit file before you apply for a mortgage to make sure it doesn’t contain any errors – even a small mistake like getting your date of birth wrong could affect your application.

You can get free credit checks from each of the three credit reference agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. 

How likely am I to get a mortgage?

If you want to know how likely you are to get a mortgage deal, it’s worth applying for a mortgage Agreement in Principle (AIP). An AIP isn’t a guaranteed mortgage offer, but it does give you a good idea of whether you’ll be accepted by a lender or not.

Some agreement in principle applications require a hard credit check. This leaves a mark on your credit report that’s visible to other lenders.

If you just want an idea of how much you could be eligible to borrow, use our mortgage calculator. There’s no credit check involved. We won’t even ask your name. Our mortgage eligibility checker will simply give you a ballpark figure of what you could potentially afford to borrow.

What documents will I need to prove mortgage eligibility?

Mortgage lenders will want to see proof of identity and your financial situation, both to comply with rules around the affordability of mortgages and money-laundering regulations. 

To prove your identity

You’ll need to show your prospective lender:

  • Your passport
  • Your driving licence
  • A council tax bill
  • Utility bills dated within three months – mobile phone bills aren’t acceptable
  • Bank statements.

To prove your income

You’ll need to give the lender:

  • Payslips from the past three to six months
  • Your most recent P60
  • Evidence of any bonuses or commission paid or due
  • Bank statements from the past three to six months (these should be for the account your salary is paid into).

To prove your income from self-employment

You’ll need documentation as evidence of income:

  • Two or more years of certified accounts (depending on the lender)
  • Evidence from HMRC of your earnings in an SA302 tax calculation. You can use this statement to show up to four years of income tax. Check whether your lender will accept documents you’ve printed yourself
  • If you’re a contractor, you’ll have to show proof of upcoming contracts
  • If you’re a company director, you’ll have to provide evidence of dividend payments or retained profits.

Be aware that you can’t print your tax documents until 72 hours after you sent in your tax form. Allow time for this, if necessary.

To prove your expenditure

You’ll need:

  • Three to six months’ worth of bank and credit card statements.

How much could I borrow for a mortgage?

As a general rule, the amount you could borrow for a mortgage is around four times your income. If you’re buying with a partner, this is four times your combined income. So, for example, if you earn £30,000 a year, you could borrow about £120,000. If you and a partner earned £30,000 each, you could borrow £240,000.

However, this isn’t a fixed rule and different lenders could lend you more or less than this. It all depends on your financial situation. Mortgage lenders will look at your income, your deposit, existing debts, savings and even your spending habits.

To get a rough idea of how much you could borrow, use our mortgage calculator.

When considering mortgage affordability, it’s important to know that your home or property may be repossessed if you do not keep up with your mortgage repayments. Therefore, you need to ensure that you’re comfortable with the monthly repayments for your agreed term. 

Why might I not be eligible for a mortgage?

Here are some of the common reasons people are refused a mortgage:

You have a poor credit history
Mortgage lenders will run credit checks to see how responsible you are with money. Late payments and multiple applications for credit over a short period are red flags that you’re having problems managing your finances.

If your credit history is less than perfect, give yourself around six months to build up your credit score. This will increase your chances of being accepted when you next apply for a mortgage.

You have too much existing debt
Credit cards and loans are marked on your credit report. If you have lots of both or are falling behind with the repayments, it could indicate you’re struggling with debt.

You don’t earn enough
Mortgage offers are normally capped at four times your annual salary. If you’re applying for a £300,000 mortgage but earn £30,000, don’t be surprised if your application is turned down.

You don’t have a reliable source of income
If you’re not consistently employed or you’re a self-employed worker whose earnings are inconsistent, lenders will see you as a greater risk. If they think there’s a higher chance of you being unable to reliably meet your repayments, they’ll refuse your application.

You don’t have enough for a deposit
You’ll need a decent deposit (usually 10%) before lenders will offer you a mortgage. Some will accept deposits as low as 5%, or even 0%, but these types of mortgages are hard to find.

If you want an idea of how much you could borrow for a mortgage, use our mortgage calculator.

Compare mortgages

We compare mortgages from some of the market’s leading financial providers, to help you find a great mortgage rate.

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Or get in touch with our partners London & Country Mortgages Ltd (L&C)** for fee-free mortgage advice.

Go to L&C mortgages

About London & Country Mortgages Ltd (L&C) 
**London & Country Mortgages Ltd (L&C) are a multi-award-winning mortgage broker with over 20 years’ experience in helping people secure their perfect mortgage. Advice is provided by L&C, who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (143002). 

L&C are not part of Compare the Market Limited. Comparethemarket receive a % of the commission that our partner London & Country earns. All applications are subject to lending and eligibility criteria. L&C will not charge you a broker fee should you decide to proceed with a mortgage.

Frequently asked questions

Can you get a mortgage if you are on benefits?

Being on benefits won’t necessarily stop you from getting a mortgage. But it might influence whether a lender will accept your application.

Potential lenders will want to see which benefits you receive and how much of your income they make up. Plus whether the benefits are long-term or even permanent.

If you’re receiving benefits, it’s a good idea to get advice on how this could affect you. Contact our partners at London & Country Mortgages Ltd (L&C)** for free mortgage advice.

Go to L&C mortgages

How long will it take for my mortgage to be approved?

Timelines for mortgage applications vary, but it shouldn’t take longer than six weeks to get approval. To help speed things up, make sure you supply all the information and accompanying documents when asked, to avoid any unnecessary back and forth between you and the lender.

Can I get a mortgage with a bad credit?

Yes, you can get a mortgage if you have a bad credit score, but you won’t be offered the best mortgage deals on the market. These are generally reserved for customers with higher credit scores.

Bad credit mortgages may require a larger deposit, involve higher interest rates or restrict the amount you can borrow.

What should I do if my mortgage application is rejected?

If you’ve been declined a mortgage, don’t panic. Here’s what to do next:

  • Ask the lender why you’ve been rejected. It might be something you can put right before applying again.
  • Consider at what point applying again will be right for you and your credit rating. Repeated rejections will damage your credit score. This will only make future applications more difficult.
  • Check your credit score. Take time to build up your credit score before you apply again.

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The content written in this article is for information purposes only and should not be taken as financial advice. If you require support on the products discussed here, please speak to your bank/lender or seek the advice of an independent professional financial advisor. We also have more information on our Customer Support Hub.

Alex Hasty - Insurance comparison and finance expert

At Compare the Market, Alex has had roles as Commercial Associate Director, Director of Trading and Director of Growth. He’s currently responsible for the development and execution of Comparethemarket’s longer-term strategic options, ensuring the right breadth of products and services that meet customer needs.

Learn more about Alex

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