When you’re buying a home and applying for a mortgage, you’ll be asked to evidence your credit score or rating. This is something lenders use to establish if you qualify for a particular mortgage.
You can find out your credit score independently online relatively quickly, as most search engines will bring up lots of websites offering a free credit check, but can they all be trusted to give accurate results?
Our New Build Director Phil McGuire doesn’t think so. In fact, there’s a lot of work to be done in this area to make it more consistent and control the accuracy of information given. Here he explains more about the use of a credit score, things to look out for and top tips for a healthy credit rating.
What is a credit score or rating? This is how lenders determine if someone is eligible for a product or service, most often a mortgage, credit card or loan.
How does a lender use a credit score to decide this? Paired with information which will be gathered during a first meeting with a mortgage advisor for a mortgage application, lenders will work out someone’s credit history by calculating a score.
Are people being misled when checking their credit score online? This can be confusing for consumers as there is a high volume of websites offering this function all with a variation in scores. These credit agencies aren’t lenders, so give a different perspective than a lender would in terms of a score. This can also lengthen the process, plus some credit agencies charge a fee for a credit check but free checks are available.
How is this impacting consumers? Getting what is perceived as a poor credit score can deter people from applying for a mortgage as they could think they won’t be accepted. Getting a poor credit score online doesn’t always mean you have a bad credit history or won’t get a mortgage offer. Some lenders don’t credit score, instead they credit search looking back at applicants’ credit history. As long as the credit score is clean, you could find the right lender.
What is the best way to find out my credit score? Seek advice from a mortgage advisor who can give advice and guidance from the perspective of what a lender is looking for. If you do want to have an indication of your rating, Experian and Equifax are most reliable from the online credit checking tools, however no online tool is 100% accurate which is worth bearing in mind.
What are the other benefits to seeking advice from a mortgage broker? With credit, it’s how the credit report is assessed which is important. Mortgage brokers have an internal process for this so it’s always best for a mortgage professional to review. There can sometimes be a quick fix which makes the difference between a healthy and poor credit score which mortgage advisors are trained to spot.
Top tips for a healthy credit rating:
Financial associates can impact your credit score. Not all credit agencies will find these, however a lender will. Any associates with a bad score can impact your own score. You can de-associate from people you are no longer associated with, for example if you shared a mortgage with someone but no longer do. This is advisable to protect your own score.
Having credit is important and not a bad thing if payments are achievable and made on time. Your financial history needs to be visible, or you risk having a poor credit rating.
Make sure you are registered on the electoral role as this improves your visibility.
Ultimately, don’t take online credit score results as a final decision and always sit down with a mortgage professional. The earlier clients make their first appointment and start this process the better in our experience.
Find your nearest branch here to make a free appointment with one of our mortgage advisors in the North East.