BUYING a first home is often painfully slow. You’ll need to save enough money to cover the deposit and other costs, find the right property, have your offer accepted and get a mortgage — and that’s before you’ve even exchanged contracts. A lot of boxes will need to be ticked regarding your finances and, if the smallest detail is missing or unclear, the process could temporarily grind to a halt. By thinking ahead, being organised and prepared, you can reduce the hold-ups. Here’s what to do to ensure you get the keys to your own front door as soon as possible.
Boost your credit rating
A less-than-perfect credit rating will affect your chances of getting a mortgage and accessing the best deals, so get hold of your credit report from Experian, Equifax, Callcredit or ClearScore.
‘Your credit score is, essentially, a temperature gauge of your financial health,’ says John Webb, consumer affairs expert at Experian. ‘Keep this looking as good as possible by avoiding small mistakes such as missed payments.’ Simple steps such as checking you’re on the electoral register, having a landline phone number and paying off more than the minimum amount on your credit card each month will also make a difference.
Reduce your debts
Lenders will go through your bank, credit and store card statements with a fine toothcomb in assessing affordability, so try to reduce any debt and avoid committing to extra, unnecessary expenditure such as a new gym subscription. Interest rates on savings accounts are currently so low that using savings to pay off debts could well be a wise move, and will have a positive effect on your credit rating.
Have your paperwork ready
You’ll need to submit reams of paperwork to kick start your mortgage application, so start gathering the required documentation.
‘This may vary slightly depending on whether you are employed or self-employed, so check beforehand,’ advises Brian Murphy, Head of Lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau (Holdings) PLC. ‘Typically, an employee will need three months of recent payslips, your last P60, three months of recent bank statements, two utility bills to prove your current address, your passport or birth certificate, and a bank or savings account statement to evidence your deposit amount, or a letter if this is being gifted to you.’