Mortgage Applications: getting ready to buy in 2024

Alan Davison, personal finance distribution director at Together shares his five top tips to help first-time buyers get their mortgage plans in order ahead of the 2024

With some mortgage rates easing and house prices in parts of the UK edging down, 2024 may be the year for first-time buyers to take that first step onto the property ladder. To ensure process is as smooth and cost effective as possible, making sure your mortgage application is in order and you know what’s needed at each stage is essential.

1. Remember: there are no ‘silly’ questions

Having never been through the house buying or mortgage application process before, it’s natural that first-time buyers will need more support and guidance than more experienced property purchasers. Asking questions to a professional mortgage advisor is always the best route to go to make sure you are informed as possible before making the jump.

2. Organise your documents

When applying for a mortgage with a lender, first-time buyers will need to provide certain documents. This will include income and employment status, and any existing debts or expenses. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have the necessary documents ready before you start shopping around so you can move quickly and smoothly when the time comes. There are lots of online checklists which can help with organising what is needed ahead of time.

3. Get professional support

Talking to a mortgage broker is a great way to start and can help first-time buyers understand the full range of mortgage products available that match your personal circumstance. Unfortunately, many of the lower interest rate mortgage products offered by the high street banks are only available for applicants who neatly fit their criteria, which might not be realistic. If this is the case, brokers will be able to suggest alternative lenders who can help those with irregular incomes, such as self-employed people, or people buying a house deemed non-standard, such as a thatched cottage, for example

4. Don’t let credit history cause problems

Your credit score or history may need some careful addressing before applying for a mortgage as most mainstream banks who are highly dependent on automated lending decisions are less flexible and could trigger a rejection. It’s worth checking credit score in advance of a mortgage application through a company like Experian, to spot unfamiliar items, address them directly with the provider and resolve outstanding debts. Possible credit blips need not be the end of homeownership and anyone finding themselves in this position shouldn’t give up hope. They should seek guidance from a mortgage broker who can help understand individuals’ financial circumstances and recommend the best lender.

5. There’s no one route onto the ladder

First-time buyers must remember there are a multitude of avenues to choose from when hoping to get onto the property ladder sooner. Shared Ownership mortgages can be a great alternative to allow buyers to purchase a percentage of a property and pay subsidised rent on the part they don’t own, usually to a housing association. For example, with Together you could borrow up to 100% of the share within our maximum loan-to-value. First-time buyers would buy a small share of the home now and buy more shares at later stages – known as ‘staircasing’ – usually until homeowners own it outright.

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