7 ways to prepare for your mortgage application

Would you lend money to a friend if you didn’t think they could pay it back? Probably not. Mortgage lenders are the same. They want reassurance that you’ll be able to repay your mortgage - not just now but in the future too - which is why they carry out so many checks before they’ll offer you a loan. So what could you do to show them you’re reliable?

Our seven tips might help.

1. Understand what they’re looking for

Lenders don’t just want to know how much you earn. Their decision will be based on other things too, like how much you want to borrow, how much of a deposit you’ve saved, your employment status, credit rating, existing debts and outgoings.

They’ll also do a ‘stress test’, which looks at things that might happen in the future that could affect your ability to repay your mortgage.

Try our Affordability Calculator

Spend five minutes on our Affordability Calculator to see how much you might be able to afford to borrow based on your incomings and outgoings.

Affordability Calculator

2. Do your finances look fit?

Lenders will take into account all your credit cards, overdrafts and loans when they’re making a decision about lending to you. They’ll want to know that once you’ve paid your debts off every month, you’ll have enough left over to pay your mortgage. So, reducing debts - or paying them off completely if you’re able to - could improve your chances of getting a mortgage.

What lenders don’t want to see are maxed-out credit cards or that you survive off your overdraft, because it might look as though you’re already living at the edge of your means.

Close up view of hands typing on laptop at a table.

3. Show them you’re reliable

Your credit report shows lenders if you have a good history of repaying debt – or not. And they’ll definitely be checking it. Your report displays the last six years’ worth of credit cards, loans, mortgages, overdrafts and it might show some of your old utility and mobile phone bills too. It will also highlight missed and late payments, which will impact their decision to offer you a loan.

You can check your own credit score for free with these UK providers:

Please note that the above links will take you to third party websites. Their website terms and conditions and cookie policy may differ from Skipton's so please read them carefully.

If you’ve had, or have currently got, joint accounts with someone else but don’t have anything to do with them anymore, it can be useful to unlink yourself from them because they could affect your credit score. You can do that by writing to the credit agencies and asking for a notice of ‘disassociation’.

4. Get yourself on an electoral roll

It’s a good idea to register on the electoral roll if you don’t have much history on your credit report, as it can make you easier to find, and some lenders may also use this as proof of your identity. It only takes five minutes at www.gov.uk/electoral-register, but it can take a few weeks to process.

5. Paperwork prep

Lenders will want to see proof of your income, so a bit of prep can help you avoid that desperate last-minute scratching around for wage slips and bank statements. Some providers will want original copies too, which you might have to order and wait for in the post. Gathering what you need before starting your mortgage application can make your life a whole lot easier and prevent delays.

This is the sort of thing lenders will typically ask for:

  • bank statements going back up to three months
  • pay slips going back up to three months
  • proof of commission or bonuses you’ve earned
  • accounts or tax returns going back up to three years
  • your latest P60 tax form
  • savings accounts statements
  • ID (usually a passport)
  • bills from utilities to show proof of your address
  • if someone’s helping you with a deposit, the mortgage provider will want to know that the money is a gift and not a loan, and that the person helping you won’t be a joint owner of the home with you. If you take a mortgage with Skipton we will ask you to fill in a Gifted Deposit declaration form once your application has been accepted.
Man at coffee shop table browsing phone.

6. Do it once. Do it right.

It’s a fact. Filling out forms can be boring. But it’s worth putting some effort into your mortgage application because even small mistakes could delay the process – you might even have to resubmit it. Money Saving Expert website has these tips for completing your paperwork like a pro:

  • Do state your income exactly. Don’t round up.
  • Do give your full name – even middle names are necessary.
  • Do declare all your debts. The lender will find them anyway and withholding the info can mean a quick decline.
  • Do get your three-year address history exactly right, including postcodes.
  • Do give honest answers when asked about how much you spend.

How do your chances of getting a mortgage look after following our steps? Time to find out with our seventh and final step.

7. DIP your toe in the water to see if you could get a mortgage

A Decision in Principle (DIP) is a check you can do that indicates if a lender might be willing to lend to you. It’s only for illustrative purposes and won’t provide all the information you need to choose a mortgage, but can be handy for finding out how much you could potentially borrow on a mortgage. If you’ve already tried our Affordability Calculator, you can complete your DIP online in minutes.

Top Tip

Be sure to check if other lenders carry out a soft or hard credit check when you complete a DIP with them - if they do a hard credit check it could affect your credit score. Our DIP only uses a soft credit check, so it won't affect your credit score. You can find more information on our Credit Scoring Guide [PDF].

You could lose your home if you don't keep up your mortgage repayments.