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First-time Buyer

First-Time Buyer Stamp Duty Savings Guide

The big Budget statements have been made, and first-time buyers have been granted stamp duty relief on properties up to £500,000. This is great news for those looking to get on the property ladder, but you might be wondering how the savings stack up compared to previous stamp duty regulations. 

The Big Red Briefcase

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a raft of changes to the government’s approach, and directed funding at the housing market. This was summed up with his pledge to invest a whopping £44 billion pounds over the next 5 years to stimulate the housing market in Britain.

What is Stamp Duty?

At the centre of the housing budget were changes to stamp duty for first-time buyers. Stamp duty, known as Stamp Duty Land Tax by the government, is a form of tax paid when purchasing land or property. Previously, all purchases of primary property were subject to tax on the value of the property that fell into each tax band. Stamp duty is payable within 30 days of the completion of the sale, and paid to HMRC.

What does this mean for me?

The new changes mean first-time buyers will not pay any stamp duty on properties up to £300,000. This is fantastic news for first-time buyers, who on average spend £207,693 on their first home. This means the majority of first-time buyers won’t pay a penny of stamp duty on their first home, saving an average of £1,650.

For first-time buyers in London, this stamp duty change will also provide relief, where the average first-time buyer spends £410,000 on their property. The new stamp duty relief covers properties up to £500,000, meaning first-time buyers will only pay stamp duty on the £300,000 -£500,000 portion of the property. This means those buying a property at £410,000 will pay £5,500 in stamp duty, saving £5,000 in comparison to the previous regulations.

Check out our Habito Stamp Duty Index to see the effect of the new regulations on the cost of homes for first-time buyers:

Who should I speak to?

With relief on stamp duty, and more first-time buyer products on offer, now’s the time for those looking to get on the property ladder to make a move. Habito is here to help you every step of the way, with a team of friendly mortgage experts on hand to answer any first-time buyer questions you might have, and guide you through your application.

The first step is using our clever Mortgage Illustrator, which can give you an idea of how much you could expect to borrow, including which mortgage product might be right for you, in a matter of minutes. All it takes is some simple information about yourself, without any credit checks, to get a picture of what your mortgage might look like.

From there, our mortgage experts can advise you on products and rates, and help secure the best possible deal for you. Head over to Habito now to find out if you could be in with the chance of saving on your first home, and let us help you find mortgage harmony.

Credit to Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Stamp Duty Abolished For First Time Buyers

 

After weeks of speculation about the Autumn Budget, the fiscal facts are finally on the table. Philip Hammond has just finished laying out his plans to the House of Commons, and here at Habito we’ve been keeping a very close eye on the action. All in all, the Chancellor’s Budget speech paints a hugely positive picture if you’re looking to buy your first home. Read on and find out why.

Massive savings on stamp duty

Thanks to rocketing property prices, particularly in London and the South-East, stamp duty has been raking in massive revenues for the government but also helping to stall the UK housing market. The proportion of first-time buyers liable for the tax has risen from 47% in 2001 to a whopping 78% in 2017 – and that figure jumps to 100% in London. As a result, first-time house-hunters have been shying away from getting on the property ladder and empty-nesters have been staying put instead of downsizing to free up family homes.

What has the Chancellor promised?

The Chancellor has come up with a surprisingly sweet carrot to get young people to swap ‘Generation Rent’ for ‘Generation Own’. He has announced that, from today, first-time buyers will pay zero stamp duty on properties up to £300,000. For homes between £300k and £500k, first-time buyers will save £5,000 in stamp duty.

Pre-Budget, properties under £125,000 were exempt, but the average purchase price among first-time buyers in the UK stands at £207,693 – and £410,000 in London. So, the £1,700 you would have to stump in stamp duty on your £210,000 dream home will now be absolutely nothing! Good news for Londoners, who will save £5,000 in tax on a £410,000 home, paying just £5,500 in stamp duty. The new rules mean a stamp duty cut for 95% of first-time buyers, with 80% paying no stamp duty at all.

Habito happiness rating  ★★★★★

More land for new homes

The UK is in the middle of a housing crisis, with a chronic shortage of new homes being built each year, and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid piled on the pre-Budget pressure for the Chancellor to ‘think big’ and ring-fence £50 billion of public money for new homes. The benefits of getting Britain building again are clear – an influx of new homes would help to ease the housing crisis and rein in spiraling property price increases, allowing more first-time buyers to get a foot on the property ladder.

What has the Chancellor promised?

Mr Javid’s pleas have been answered by the Chancellor, who has committed £44 billion to provide funding, loans and guarantees over the next five years to boost the UK’s housing stock. He told Parliament that the crisis needed ‘money, planning reform and intervention’, so how will the £44 billion figure break down? Money to deliver 300,000 new homes each year by the mid-2020s (up from the current 217,000), training young construction workers and guaranteeing loans for small house-builders to get their hard hats on pronto. The Chancellor also announced planning reform to free up more urban brownfield sites for residential development, and intervention on the vast number of planning permissions currently left unbuilt. But one thing not to expect is flats in fields – the Green Belt will remain gloriously green.

Habito happiness rating  ★★★★☆

Help to Buy scheme extended

Aimed at young house-hunters, Help to Buy launched in 2013 and allows you to buy a new-build property with just a 5% deposit – the government lends 20% of the sale price and you borrow the rest via a repayment mortgage. The scheme has been hugely popular and already accounts for more than a quarter of all new-build sales in the UK, 81% of which are to first-time buyers.

What has the Chancellor promised?

The Tories are targeting the young vote, and Theresa May already used the Tory Party conference in October to announce a government injection of a further £10 billion into the Help to Buy scheme, allowing another 135,000 people to buy a new-build home by 2021. The Chancellor used his Budget speech to reconfirm that figure – but where all that extra money’s going to come from is yet to be revealed.
Habito happiness rating  ★★★☆☆

Habito’s point of view

The Chancellor’s pre-Budget intentions were clear: “We will not allow the current young generation to be the first since the Black Death not to be more prosperous than its parents’ generation. Fixing the housing market is a crucial part of making sure that doesn’t happen.” Strong words indeed, and Philip Hammond has followed through with a wide range of homebuyer reforms that mean it’s a brilliant time to put your foot on the property ladder. Stamp duty cuts, new-build investment and a boost for Help to Buy will all help the housing market back to good health.

Kala, our VP Operations, recommends you chat to our friendly team of mortgage experts sooner rather than later:

Today’s stamp duty reforms will turbocharge the first-time buyer market, allowing people to save thousands and put more money towards a deposit, giving them access to a wider range of mortgages. However, it is also likely that house prices will rise, as there could be a rush to take advantage of this tax change on houses below the £500,000 threshold.

The number of properties bought and sold from now until January is usually low. But with the increase to the base interest rate by the Bank of England this month, as well as continued competitive prices on offer from mortgage lenders, it’s likely we’ll see a boost in house buying, based on first-time buyers rushing to take advantage of this change to stamp duty.”

So stop dreaming and start doing your sums, and hop on to live chat to speak to one of our mortgage experts. Habito is here to help you every step of the way towards mortgage bliss, and there’s no better time to start your journey with us!

Learn more about Habito & find out how much you can borrow online today →

Autumn Budget 2017: A Brighter Future For First-Time Buyers?

Autumn has arrived and Budget season is upon us. Right now, Chancellor Philip Hammond is polishing his speech, and his red briefcase, ready to update the UK on its financial future on 22 November. Rumour has it that the Treasury is looking to put a smile back on the faces of first-time buyers and get the stagnant UK housing market moving again, but how? Habito takes a peek at the homebuyer happiness Hammond might dish up next Wednesday.

Stamp duty shake-up?

The biggest news could be around stamp duty, which is currently creating lots of cash for the government (revenues reached a record £8.6bn in 2016/17, a 17% increase on the previous year) but also helping to stall the UK housing market. Rising property prices mean spiraling stamp duty bills for buyers, particularly in London and the South-East. The result? First-time house-hunters are shying away from joining the property ladder and empty-nesters are staying put instead of downsizing to free up family homes.

Stamp duty can be a hefty extra on top of the asking price, and the proportion of first-time buyers liable for the tax has risen from 47% in 2001 to a whopping 78% in 2017 – and that figure jumps to 100% in London. Properties under £125,000 are exempt, but the average purchase price among first-time buyers in the UK stands at £207,693 in 2017, and £410,000 in London – which means you’ll need to stump up more than £15,000 in stamp duty for that dream half-million pound home in the capital.

So, what might the Chancellor do to help out? One possibility is that he’ll introduce a stamp duty ‘holiday’ for first-time buyers. This means they’d be exempt from paying the tax on homes up to a certain value for a set number of years (the last stamp duty ‘holiday’ covered first-time purchases up to £250,000). Another, less likely option is to make stamp duty a seller’s tax rather than a buyer’s tax, which would reduce costs for first-time buyers and incentivise people to keep moving up the property ladder. A good idea in theory, but some say that asking prices would simply rise to cover the new cost.

Building for a better Britain?

There’s a critical housing shortage in the UK at the moment. Based on current demand, we need 240,000 new homes each year, but only 140,000 are being built. The Chancellor may well introduce changes to free up more land for building and simplify the planning process. This double whammy would help to ease the housing crisis and rein in spiraling property price increases, allowing more first-time buyers to get a foot on the property ladder instead of being stuck in ‘Generation Rent’.

A helping hand for Help to Buy?

Theresa May announced at the Tory Party conference in October that the government will find a further £10 billion for its Help to Buy loan scheme. This will allow another 135,000 people to buy a new-build home with only a 5% deposit. Furthermore, she announced they will cough up an extra £2 billion for affordable housing. That’s a lot of loose change, so expect the Chancellor to use his speech to outline where all the money’s going to come from.

Goodbye Buy-To-Let?

Buy-to-let landlords are being squeezed out of the property market through a raft of recent measures designed to free up homes for first-time buyers. This includes a 3% surcharge on stamp duty for buy-to-let purchases and a cut in tax relief for buy-to-let mortgages. The crackdown is a vote-winner for the Tories, so don’t expect any U-turns on Wednesday.

A positive outlook

If the stamp duty ‘holiday’ and Help to Buy funding do come true, it’s a positive picture for potential homeowners and might just be the ideal time to put your foot on the property ladder. So, keep a close eye on the Budget on Wednesday and remember that Habito is here to help you every step of the way to the best mortgage whatever your Budget.

The Interest Rate Rise: How it Could Affect Your Mortgage – And How You Can Avoid The Hike

Before today, there hadn’t been an interest rate rise for nearly a decade in the UK – which meant that anyone who’d bought a home from 2008 onwards had never had to experience a rising interest rate market. But it’s all change now the Bank of England has bitten the bullet and decided to bump up the base rate from 0.25% to 0.5% to try and stem the country’s increasing inflation.

So, how is the Bank of England’s decision going to affect the Bank of You? And how can remortgaging help to ease the pain behind the interest rate rise? We’ve got it all covered, from the reasons behind the Bank’s decision to the best ways to remortgage – and save on your monthly payments.

How does the Bank of England decide the interest rate?

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), which is made up of nine members and led by Governor Mark Carney, meets on the first Thursday of each month to set the official UK interest rate (the base rate) – the figure at which commercial banks borrow from the Bank of England. And since 2009, those monthly interest rate meetings have been, quite frankly, uninteresting as the MPC hasn’t had too much to decide. In fact, the base rate has only had to be altered once during that entire time – a 0.25% drop in August 2016 to its lowest ever level of 0.25%.

So why the sudden change of heart for the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street? Well, it’s all down to the current level of inflation. The MPC has an inflation target of 2%, and if the rate goes too far above or below that then Carney and his crew need to take action to stabilise the economy. As it stands, inflation is at a four-year high of 3%, which is a full percentage point above where it should be. This spike, mostly driven by a slump in the value of the pound following the Brexit referendum vote, has inevitably ended in a hike.

What does this mean for mortgages?

At Habito we search more than 20,000 products from over 70 lenders to find the right one just for you. And we’re also determined to make the mortgage process more transparent. That’s why we want to make sure you understand exactly how interest rate rises can affect your home loan – and what we can help you do about it.

The good news is that if you’re still on a two-, three- or five-year initial ‘teaser’ fixed rate, then your mortgage payments will remain the same for now, however much Mr Carney decides to tinker with the interest rates. But be warned, this honeymoon period will only last until the end of the fixed term.

After that, you’ll move onto your SVR (standard variable rate) – which averages 4.6% at the moment – unless you do something about it. That’s why, if you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of borrowers reaching the end of their fixed term every month, it always pays to think about remortgaging, whether there are any more interest rate rises or not.

If you’re already one of the estimated three million people on a standard variable rate or tracker mortgage, even this measly 0.25% interest rate rise on a 25-year £200,000 loan will see your payments jump by £480 a year.

Will there be more rate rises to come?

Some people reading this might think, ‘it’s only 0.25%, I don’t need to do anything yet’, but burying your head in the sand and hoping for no more rises could prove to be a costly mistake, especially as the Brexit process is turning out to be less of a smooth uncoupling, and more of a tricky divorce.

If the pound continues to slump and inflation continues to rise, then further interest rate rises seem highly likely. Many experts believe this initial hike could be just the tip of the iceberg and that rates will continue to edge up during the next few years. For example, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) think tank believes that this first rise will be followed by more hikes every six months until the base rate is up at 2% by 2021.

Even if the base rate rose just one percentage point higher, the impact on your family finances would be severe – the additional cost on a 25-year £200,000 mortgage would come closer to an extra £150 a month, or an eyewatering £1,760 a year on top of your usual payments. That’s an awful lot of piggy banks that’ll need emptying if you don’t take action soon.

How can you protect yourself from a rate rise?

So, what can homeowners do to combat the creeping base rate rise? Well, the positive news is that it’s not too late to act. Despite the Bank of England’s 0.25% rise, interest rates remain at historic lows and fierce competition between different lenders means that it’s still a borrower’s market with thousands of cheap remortgage products up for grabs across the sector.

But if rates do continue to go up, this window of opportunity will start to close as lenders hike the prices of their products. The result? Not only will millions of homeowners’ monthly payments skyrocket, it will also be more expensive to remortgage to a cheaper fixed rate. So, if you’re on a tracker or variable rate mortgage or your fixed rate is about to end, you need to act now to protect yourself and secure the best deal for the future.

A recent YouGov survey found that more than a third of Brits with a mortgage haven’t changed their product during the last five years, which means that there are an awful lot of people coughing up thousands of pounds every year in excessive mortgage fees – what we call the ‘mortgage loyalty penalty’. But it doesn’t have to be like that! Remortgaging with Habito is as simple as switching your energy, mobile or broadband provider, only you’ll enjoy much more rewarding returns.

The process of switching to a new lender is the same as applying for a new mortgage, so you can either go directly to the new lender or you can use a mortgage intermediary (broker) such as Habito, which will act on your behalf with the lender (and we’ll do it all for free).

You’ll need to be prepared with all the correct documentation and there’ll probably be a conveyancing fee from your solicitor as legal work is needed to change the original lender’s interest from the property to the new lender. However, most remortgages include a free legal package, so this might not add on any cost to you.

Once the remortgage has been accepted by your new lender, your solicitor will manage the transfer of money to pay off your old mortgage. And then the only thing left for you to do is decide what you’re going to do with all that money you’ve just saved yourself!

Top Tips: How to get yourself remortgage ready

Don’t Leave It Too Late

It can take time to switch on to a new remortgage rate, so you should start looking into the available options well in advance – roughly 14 weeks to three months before your current rate expires is ideal. Don’t worry, you won’t have to switch the second you’re approved, though: once you successfully apply, you’ll get an offer with an expiry date attached.

Do Check Your Credit Score

It’s crucial to make sure your credit history is squeaky clean before applying for a remortgage. In the UK, there are several credit reference agencies (CRAs) such as ClearScoreExperian, Equifax and CallCredit, and each will hold a file on you called a credit report. Check as many as possible before applying (the most any will cost you is a couple of quid), address any mistakes and cancel any unused credit cards that show up.

Don’t switch too soon

You don’t want to switch too soon because some mortgage terms will include an early repayment charge if you switch while you’re still within the initial ‘teaser’ period. This charge can be as much as 2%-5% of your outstanding loan, which can add up to several thousand pounds, so timing your remortgage right is key! If there is a charge, arrange for your remortgage to start the day after the penalty period ends on your current deal.

Do sort out your paperwork

You know all that paperwork you had to get together for your last mortgage application? You’ll need to do the same this time round as well, unfortunately, so it’s worth hunting it down in plenty of time. Documents include high-resolution scans of:

Proof of salary (payslips, or SA302 forms if self-employed)

Proof of address (council tax/utility bill)

ID (passport or driver’s licence) and bank statements

A full list of documents can be found here.

Don’t Go On a Shopping Spree

Lenders need to know that you’re sensible with your money and can afford to make repayments on your home loan. So, in the weeks and months running up to applying for a remortgage, it makes sense to avoid applying for extra credit or buying big-ticket items.

Do Speak To Habito 

With Habito, if it suits you, you can do the whole process – receive advice and make the application all online. However, we understand that sometimes you just want to talk to somebody, which is why we have our brilliantly helpful team of (human) mortgage experts on hand to guide you through the process every step of the way. So get chatting!

What are you waiting for?

Consumers are currently missing out on a staggering £29 billion a year by sticking with the same old mortgage year on year, and with interest rates on the rise that figure is only going to get worse. So it’s more important than ever to secure the best deal you possibly can on your home loan, and with Habito it’s more straightforward than ever too. Get in touch and let us free you from SVR hell – before Mr Carney has his next monthly meeting.

Ask Habito: How To Get a Mortgage as a Foreign National

Since Habito first launched in early 2016, we’ve made it our mission to break down barriers in the mortgage process. We want securing a home loan to be simple and straightforward for as many people as possible.

And now we want to help even more potential homeowners by busting the myth that non-UK citizens can’t get a mortgage. Just imagine: you’re living and working here and have spotted your dream flat for sale. You’re desperate to get a mortgage, but you’re not a British national. Impossible, right? Wrong. The fact is that getting a home loan approved when you or your partner are non-UK citizens is often more about credit history than country of birth.

Don’t worry if you feel confused, you’re not alone. Out of a population of 65 million in the UK, some nine million were born abroad. Which means there are a lot of foreign-born house-hunters out there just like you. But there are plenty of homeowners too – foreign buyers own nearly 10% of Britain’s housing stock.

So read on to find out how to join them. We’ll unpack everything you need to know – from visas to credit scores. And we’ll show you how to maximise your chances of getting a mortgage through a broker such as Habito.

I’m an EU national. Can I get a mortgage?

Several things affect how easy it is to get a mortgage in the UK as a foreign national. But for now, if you’re an EU citizen, nationality shouldn’t be one of them. The truth is lenders cannot discriminate between EU citizens solely on the basis of their country of birth. So whether you were born in Bristol or Berlin shouldn’t make a difference to you obtaining a mortgage offer.  As long as you’ve been an EU resident for at least three years, and have a bank account and permanent job in the UK.

Far more crucial is your credit history – and this could be a stumbling block if you’ve only recently moved here. Having a good credit rating is essential when it comes to getting the best deal – or any deal at all. So you need to build up your credit score as soon as you arrive. This means everything from registering to vote to making sure you pay your mobile phone bill on time. For more tips, read our blog on how to improve your credit score here.

Brexit has created a lot of uncertainty and confusion over the status of EU citizens in the UK, and the rules regarding eligibility may well change in the near future. For the latest information, you can visit the government’s dedicated web page here.

I was born outside the EU. Can I still get a mortgage?

Unsurprisingly, things become more complicated if you’re a non-EU citizen and you want a mortgage. But don’t despair – it’s not impossible. The main problem you’ll face if you’re not an EU national is that you won’t have any traceable credit history in the UK. This could cause major complications when applying for a mortgage.

So you’ll need to build up a positive credit footprint to increase your chances of getting your hands on a home loan. Read our blog for tips on how to do this.

Different lenders will have different requirements when faced with a non-standard mortgage request like this, so the best approach is to use an online broker such as HabitoWe have access to a vast range of mortgages across the whole marketplace. We scan more than 70 lenders, covering over 20,000 products – so our experts will be able to advise you every step of the way and find a loan to suit your situation. To get you started, here’s a quick round-up of what you can expect from lenders.

As a non-EU citizen, you’ll have to produce evidence that you:

  • Have lived in the UK for at least two years
  • Have a permanent job in the UK
  • Have permanent residency in the UK
  • Have a UK bank account
  • Have a sizeable deposit (as much as 25%)

If you don’t have permanent residency (PB) or indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK, you may still be able to apply for a mortgage as a non-EU national as long as you have one of the following visas:

  • Tier 1 or Tier 2 Visa
  • Residence Card
  • Family of a Settled Person Visa
  • UK Ancestry Visa

The above visas apply to sole or joint applications, where one or both applicants are from outside the UK/EU. You can apply for a visa up to three months before the day you’re due to start work in the UK and you should get a decision within three weeks.

Will I have to see a mortgage adviser face-to-face?

In short, no. When you sign up to Habito, our Digital Mortgage Adviser (available 24/7 from any device) will give you a quick overview of what your mortgage may look like. After that, our dedicated (human) mortgage experts are always on the end of the phone or live chat. They will answer your questions and keep you updated with the progress of your application from start to finish. Habito does mortgages online, free and in record time.

Can I still use the government’s Help to Buy scheme?

If you’re an EU citizen living and working in the UK or have indefinite leave to remain (ILR), then you’re eligible to apply to the government’s Help to Buy (HTB) scheme. The best place to start with Help to Buy is the official website, where you can find out about the various options available. When you sign up to Habito, just follow the instructions on the dashboard and let one of our advisers know that you’re looking to use the HTB scheme.

Moving to the UK and getting a mortgage – A Habito Customer Story

Name: John White
Age: 29
Occupation: Self-employed; John works as a sole trader, as an Identity & Access Management (IAM) Solutions Architect in the IT industry
Property type: Semi-detached, modern
Location: YorkJohn was looking to buy for the first time since moving from Canada with his British wife. After navigating the immigration process when he moved to the UK, he was prepared to spend at least as much time familiarising himself with how mortgages in the UK work – particularly since he knew his nationality would likely be a factor, on top of being self-employed. I read that Agreements/Decisions in Principle were leading many people to falsely believe they would be approved, only to be rejected as soon as the lender took a closer look during the actual application process. I wanted to get a really good idea of what might be asked of me, and where I should look, by the time we were ready to start house hunting so I did a lot of research.” Although he found a deal for a mortgage in principle, he was curious about what a broker might say and how easily they could find him a mortgage, given his circumstances. He turned to Habito and successfully got a mortgage in a few weeks.Being a self-employed, foreign national, I thought it would be incredibly difficult to get a mortgage. But Habito took it all in stride and landed me a great mortgage, making sure we had all the supporting documents/evidence covered. I actually went through the motions with an estate agent’s mortgage adviser, who would have charged £400 for their services, and their at-a-glance search came up with the same deal Habito had already found me (for free!).

Mortgage A-Z: 10 Common Terms Explained

We know that mortgages can seem baffling, even to people born here, and this is due in part to the overuse of jargon and acronyms by the industry. So here is a quick run-down of some of the terms we use in the UK in the process of home-buying:

Agreement in Principle (AIP)

This is a document from a mortgage lender confirming that you can borrow a certain amount from them. This will show the seller that you can afford to buy the property and hopefully your dream home can be taken off the market. 

Conveyancing

The process of managing the legal side of property transactions is called conveyancing. Whether you’re buying, selling or remortgaging a property, you’ll need to appoint a licensed conveyancer. We recommend speaking to Premier Property Lawyers for all your conveyancing needs. For further information on conveyancing and the legal side of buying property, check out our dedicated blog post.

Fixed rate

A fixed rate mortgage means the interest you pay won’t change for the period of time you agree. This rate is unlikely to be fixed for the duration of the mortgage, more like two to seven years. Once this period is up, you’ll go on to your lender’s standard variable rate. We have more information on fixed-rate mortgages here.

Freehold

If your property is freehold, this means that you own the building and also the land on which it stands.

Gazumping

If you have an offer accepted on a property but then another buyer comes along and makes a higher offer, which the seller accepts, then you’ve been gazumped. You’ve been warned!

Leasehold

If the property is leasehold, then you own the building but not the land it stands on, and only for a certain length of time (anything up to 999 years).

Loan-to-value (LTV)

This is the size of your mortgage as a percentage of the value of the property you’re buying. This is the ratio of the size of your borrowing amount to the size of your deposit. The more deposit you can put down on a property, the lower the LTV ratio will be. The most competitive interest rates are usually available to customers with lower LTV ratios, often below 70%.

Stamp duty

Stamp duty land tax (SDLT) is a tax payable when you’re buying a property for more than £125,000. There are several rate bands for stamp duty,  and the tax is calculated on the part of the purchase price that falls within each band (0% on £0-£125,000; 2% on £125,000-£250,000; 5% on £250,001-£925,000 and so on). You can find out more about Stamp Duty in our First-Time Home Buyer Guide

Standard variable rate

A standard variable rate (SVR) mortgage is an interest rate that’s set by, and varies, between each lender. When your fixed term ends, you’ll automatically be moved over to the SVR. Your lenders SVR can be seen as a default interest rate, and is not usually based on any one factor. It varies between lenders, and is usually several percent higher than your lender’s fixed rate products. More information on SVRs can be found here, and we also have a guide on how to avoid the mortgage loyalty penalty

Valuation fee

Lenders will need to carry out an inspection of the property before approving your mortgage. This is to make sure it’s a sound investment to lend on and valued correctly. Typical valuation costs are around £400 but can exceed £1,000 in some cases. The valuation process will be different depending on what type of buyer you are, and the property you are looking at. Head here for more jargon-free information on valuations and surveys.

Ask Habito: How to Improve Your Credit Score for Good

Finally, after months of trawling estate agent websites and trekking around the local area in search of fresh ‘For Sale’ signs, you’ve spotted your dream home. Better yet, the asking price seems pretty reasonable too. All you need to do now is secure a mortgage and domestic bliss is just round the corner. 

For the majority of people who apply for a mortgage each year, the hunt for a home has a fairytale ending. And once you get your mortgage approved, the lender will leave you in peace as long as you make your monthly repayments.

But if you’re one of the millions of adults in the UK with the dreaded words ‘bad credit’ attached to your name, getting a mortgage in the first place can be a whole different ballgame – less fairytale, more frustration.

How much bad debt is there?

Debt comes in many forms – from student loans to credit cards, phone contracts to payday loans. It’s crucial to understand the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ debt, especially if you’re about to apply for a major loan such as a mortgage.

It’s no surprise to learn that the economic downturn over the last ten years has created a mass of debt in the UK. According to The Money Charity, unsecured debt now tops £200 billion, the highest level since 2008 – and credit card debt alone currently stands at £68.5 billion. To put this into perspective, that averages out at nearly £7,500 of debt for every household. 

  • £200.882 billion – Level of unsecured debt in the UK
  • £7,413 – Amount the average household owes in unsecured debt
  • 248 – Number of people declared bankrupt or insolvent every day
  • 3,321 – Number of county court judgments (CCJs) issued daily

Pretty shocking, right? And when it comes to working out your individual credit score it’s not just major black marks like CCJs and bankruptcy that count against you.  Smaller issues such as paying your phone bill late or missing a credit card payment can also have an effect on your application.

All of this means that there are a lot of potential pitfalls between spotting that ‘For Sale’ sign and getting the keys to the front door. On the other hand, if you stay within your credit limit and pay back your loans on time you can build up ‘good credit’. This actually helps to boost your credit score and makes you more attractive to potential lenders.

Read your credit report

The first thing to do before you apply for a mortgage is to get hold of a copy of your credit report. This is a footprint of your credit history. It is a list of your accounts such as credit cards, phone contracts and utility bills, the dates they were started, the amount of each loan and, crucially, any late or missed payments. Also included will be details of any CCJs, repossessions or bankruptcies.

Who works out my credit score?

Your three-digit credit score is worked out by a credit reference agency (CRA) and there are three of these in the UK: Experian, Equifax and Callcredit. They all have a statutory duty to supply you with a copy of your credit report for a maximum of £2. You can access your credit file online in a matter of minutes, so get checking as soon as possible. 

It’s worth getting a report from all three, as they may have different information that could adversely affect your credit score. You can also check your credit score as many times as you like without it having an impact on your score. 

What’s a good credit score?

Basically, a high credit score means that you’re deemed low-risk and this obviously appeals to lenders. Conversely, a low credit score means you’re viewed as higher-risk and more likely to default on payments in the future. A ‘good credit score’ will differ between lenders as they use different scoring scales. This is a rough guide to good scores with the three CRAs.

A good credit score with:

  • Experian is scoring over 880 out of 999
  • Equifax is scoring over 420 out of 700
  • Callcredit is scoring 4 out of 5

With outstanding mortgage lending now at £1.344 trillion (that’s 12 noughts!), it’s no surprise that mortgage providers might impose a higher interest rate or turn down your application all together if you fall into the high-risk category.

Can I still get a mortgage with a bad credit score?

If your credit history isn’t blemish-free, don’t give up all hope of becoming a homeowner. When it comes to getting a mortgage application approved, there’s bad credit and then there’s really bad credit. A missed mobile phone payment a few years ago means you’re far less of a risk to lenders than someone with a string of CCJs to their name.

At Habito we handle all sorts of cases and we’ll do our very best to help, whatever your circumstances. Before submitting anything to a lender, we also perform our own affordability assessment. This leaves no footprint on your credit history and ensures that you have the best possible chance of being accepted for a mortgage.

Depending on how poor your credit history is, some lenders may not be willing to offer you a mortgage. But plenty of others could be much more sympathetic.

That said, if you’ve experienced a CCJ, IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) or bankruptcy in the past, we unfortunately won’t be able to help you. The best place to start is by working with a company like ClearScore who give you access to your credit score and report for free. They also offer tips and coaching to improve your credit score and get you in better shape for a mortgage application.

You may also be tempted to take out a so-called ‘adverse credit’ mortgage. But be aware that interest rates and charges will be considerably higher than a standard mortgage. You will also need to put down a bigger deposit – usually at least 15% of the purchase price.

Don’t get caught out by mobile phone providers – A Habito Customer Story

Name: Fei Yan
Age: 34
Occupation: Works in operations / compliance
Property type: Terraced house with 5 bedrooms
Location: West LondonFei Yan had a mortgage approved with another broker but it was declined on the day of completion. He called his mortgage broker and the bank but got no real answers as to why the mortgage wasn’t going through; only that there were ‘personal data issues’. It turned there was default on his mobile phone account for £8 with O2 – a debt that Fei didn’t even know about. The issue took weeks to sort out and then his bank didn’t return the valuation costs.He decided to go with Habito because he needed a quick turnaround to secure his dream house. Luckily, Habito successfully sorted a mortgage for Fei.“Habito was checking on the progress of my application every day, so I was always confident that my application was progressing at speed. My approval came in on the 30th of January and they released the funds the next day. I know this was because they were able to put pressure on the bank to be faster than the usual time frame.”

 

Habito’s top 5 ways to improve your score and make lenders love you:

  1. Check that you’re on the electoral register

Simply put, the electoral register allows lenders to check that you are who you say you are. It is key to making sure the information you’ve supplied in your mortgage application is accurate. You can register here.

  1. Challenge any errors in your credit report

If your file shows that you defaulted on a payment, it’s bad news for your credit score. But sometimes mistakes are made – if that’s the case, it’s crucial to fix them. Contact the lender and ask them to delete the error from your file. Failing that, contact one of the credit reference agencies or the Financial Ombudsman. And remember, it’s important to check all three CRAs before applying for a mortgage.

  1. Cancel any unused credit or store cards

Having unused credit or store cards will mark you out as someone who doesn’t use credit often. It also shows you have a limited credit history, so it’s best to cancel unused cards. At the same time, don’t cancel all your cards. Having a credit card that you repay in full every month shows potential mortgage lenders that you’re a responsible borrower.

  1. Avoid payday loans and withdrawing cash with a credit card

Doing either of these frequently suggests you’re unable to manage your money and this will reflect on your credit score. That’s not to mention the effect it will have on your overall finances. An occasional credit card ATM withdrawal on holiday should be OK. You still have to pay the money back on time and in full – and don’t make a habit of it!

  1. Pay your bills on time

It sounds obvious, but forgetting payments can cost you dearly on your credit score. So set up automatic payments or reminders to make sure you don’t miss any due dates. That goes for all bills, be it your rent or your monthly phone bill. Again, though, don’t stress too much about one late payment a few years ago. The negative impact missed payments have decreases with time.

In conclusion

How bad credit affects the ability to own a home continues to be a contentious issue. However, the rules around responsible lending are in place for important reasons.

Most people are aware of the financial crisis which started in 2007 on the back of subprime lending. People without a repayment strategy were loaned irresponsible amounts of money. This caused loan defaults on a mass scale, and initiated the collapse of several major financial institutions.

Just like you, we don’t want this to happen again. We understand that people want to take out mortgages to help them buy their dream home. That’s why we’re here to guide you through your mortgage application. We’ll answer any credit and affordability questions you might have.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of bad credit, and how it affects your mortgage eligibility. For any more questions, don’t hesitate to get in contact with one of our mortgage experts right here.

Property Solicitors: Things You Should Know

You may know this already, but every mortgage requires a solicitor. There are various property specific laws when buying a home, and you’ll need to stick to them. 
The process of managing the legal side of property transactions is called conveyancing. A conveyancer is essentially a solicitor who specialises in property law. There are many conveyancing firms out there, but we have a special recommendation. We suggest speaking to Premier Property Lawyers for all your legal needs.
 
Whether you’re buying, selling or remortgaging a property, you will need to appoint a conveyancing firm. This will be separate from your application through Habito. The good news? You won’t always have to pay for it.

Can Habito help with this?

At the moment, the answer is no. However, we are aware that buying a house is much more than sorting out a mortgage. We are currently working on becoming more involved with the process even beyond the point of receiving a mortgage offer.

  • If you’re purchasing a property

You will need to make arrangements and appoint a solicitors firm who will handle this part of the application. We can’t stress enough how important it is to be represented by solicitors that make you feel confident about the process. You also will be negotiating their fees and the ways you’re going to be working together. Therefore, it’s vital to feel comfortable about asking a lot of questions and communicating regularly.

  • If you’re remortgaging

The lender may offer you a solicitor as part of the remortgage package. If this is the case, you won’t be liable for any fees – the lender will pick up any fees.

My mortgage has gone to offer. What now?

We will always email you a copy of your mortgage offer. You will also receive the complete documentation from the lender within a few business days. From this point on, the only documentation to complete will be between you and your solicitors.

Solicitors Pack
Once you receive a “solicitors pack”, you will need to fill in the questionnaire included and post it back. It will also include the instructions about the way your solicitors will operate.  This should include how to access their online portal and track your application until completion.

Remember, solicitors are not mortgage advisers
Our job might be done once you get your mortgage offer, but we’re always open to questions. Our mortgage promise means we’ll watch your mortgage, and make sure you never end up on your lender’s variable rate. When your introductory period is up, you will be transferred over to this more expensive rate. But not with Habito! We want to continue saving you money, and we’ll alert you when it’s time to switch. We’ll manage the remortgage process, and make sure you keep your pounds in your pocket.

What’s a Key Facts Illustration?

What is it then?

Key Facts Illustration (also known as ESIS, for European Standardised Information Sheet) is a document we will create uniquely for you, outlining the complete details about the mortgage we think is best for you to have.

The KFI will clarify figures regarding:

  • mortgage amount,
  • mortgage term,
  • interest rates during and after the fixed period,
  • monthly payments,
  • any fees (including when and how they will need to be paid),
  • any other additional features.

When do I get my KFI?

After we’ve had a chat or a phone call, it’s time for us to do some research. This will be based on the information you had provided when you’ve filled out the forms and spoken to us; our algorithm scans the whole market in seconds to find a product best suited to your needs and circumstances.
Our current timeframe for sending out your KFI is between 24 and 48 hours, but most often we’ll aim to have one for you on the same day.

How long is it valid for?

A KFI is only valid on the day we produce it. However, we are constantly monitoring the market and will always tell you if anything changes before we progress further or a better deal comes up.

Is KFI a mortgage offer?

No, this is purely an illustration of a type of mortgage we think you should have, based on what’s available on the market on the day of its production.

Now it’s up to you to read your KFIs carefully and come back to us when you’re ready to discuss it further or proceed to the next stage.

A first-time home buyer weighing up pros and cons

First-Time Home Buyer Guide

Habito’s guide for first-time home buyers: what no one tells you about buying a home

It’s no secret that purchasing a home is complicated. There are countless fees, endless acronyms and chains before you exchange. Needless to say there is a lot of waiting before you know whether you’ve actually landed your home. But don’t worry! The habito team has put together some trade secrets for a first-time home buyer. These should help make the process faster, easier and much more transparent.

Our customers, Steve & Susie, Lauren & James, and Luke shared all the things they wish they’d known before getting their mortgage as a first-time home buyer.

15 essential dos and don’ts when getting a mortgage and becoming first-time home buyer

  1. DO ask yourself if it’s what you really want

    Owning a property rather than renting will almost certainly make you better off in the long term. Howver, home ownership isn’t for everyone. You’ll need a big chunk of capital to put down a deposit on your first home and there are lots of extra costs when you buy rather than rent. From buildings insurance to buying new furniture and fittings. Above all, do your sums properly, and then do them again. If you think you’ll be busting your budget by becoming a first-time home buyer, it may be better to carry on saving before taking the leap.

    Still keen to stop renting and start owning? Buying in an up-and-coming area can help boost the chances of an increase in the value of your home. Purchasing a bigger property where you could rent out a room is another way of protecting yourself. Budgeting for a few years ahead is another way to make sure you don’t end up in homeowner hell in the future. 

  2. DO research what deals you can get as a first-time home buyer

    Being a first-time home buyer can be very daunting. Buying a home is almost certainly the most expensive thing you’ll do in your life. So it’s good to know that there are a range of government schemes to help you get a foot on the property ladder. These include Help to Buy and Shared Ownership. For a full rundown of all the schemes currently available, click here. It’s also worth visiting the Energy Saving Trust site for details of the various energy grants on offer.

  3. DO save hard for that deposit

    The biggest factor when it comes to which mortgage rate you can get is the size of your deposit. This is the percentage of the property’s overall value you can afford to put down as a lump sum. Therefore, it’s extremely important to save super-hard and maximise your deposit before taking the plunge. Fortunately, a small deposit doesn’t necessarily stop you being a homeowner. There are plenty of government schemes to help a first-time home buyer get on the property ladder (see above). Bear in mind that a low deposit will mean a jump in rates. So the more you can put down, the better.

  4. DO make yourself credit-check worthy

    One of the main goals when it comes to securing a mortgage is to get the best interest rate on your loan. But to get that rate, you need to make sure your credit history is as clean as can be. This means having a good credit rating is crucial when it comes to mortgage applications. In the UK, there are several credit reference agencies (CRAs) such as ClearScoreExperian, Equifax and CallCredit, and each will hold a file on you called a credit report. The report has a footprint of your credit history (credit cards, loan agreements, mobile phone contracts, etc). Check as many as possible before applying for a mortgage, address any mistakes and cancel any unused credit cards that show up.

  5. DO know your timeline and be flexible

    Recent research shows that it takes the average person just 27 minutes to decide whether to buy a property after viewing it.But that’s only the beginning of an often long and drawn-out process. By all means get excited when you finally get shown round your dream home, but keep your head and don’t try to rush things. There will inevitably be hiccups during the buying process, so stay flexible and make sure you root out the best deal. Whether that’s finding a brilliant mortgage or negotiating a discount on the asking price.

  6. DO step away from the comparison sites

    To get an accurate view of what you can afford, use a mortgage calculator that adds in all the costs you’ll pay. These are free and shouldn’t come with credit checks. Avoid comparison websites or ‘best buy’ tables that show you different products and interest rates.  There’s no way of telling if you’ll actually be eligible for them by putting in just a few details.

  7. DO get a real Agreement in Principle (AIP)

    Several websites will promise to give you an AIP in minutes (also known as a Mortgage in Principle or Decision in Principle). Be warned they are just an output of a mortgage calculator. When you’re ready to put an offer on a house, get a lender-backed Agreement in Principle. The application is based on all of your personal circumstances and financial information. It also runs a credit check to see if you’re eligible for the home loan. Just don’t get several of them, as it can have a damaging effect on your credit score.

  8. DO get your documents ready in advance

    This can help to move your application along much, much faster. And not having them ready is unfortunately one of the most common reasons why an application gets held up. For more information on which documents you’ll need for your mortgage application, check out our dedicated blog post

    Documentation for first-time home buyer mortgage applicationDocuments include high-resolution scans of:

    • Proof of salary (payslips, or SA302 forms if self-employed)
    • Proof of address (council tax/utility bill)
    • ID (passport or driver’s licence) and bank statements


    A full list of documents can be found here.

  9. DO consider your existing debts

    You’ll increase your chances of getting a decent mortgage by paying off as much outstanding debt as possible before making your application. Personal debt won’t necessarily stop you from getting a mortgage, but it will affect the amount a lender is willing to offer you. To make sure you can afford a mortgage, lenders look at your disposable income. If you have large monthly repayments to make – car finance, credit cards, student loans, etc – it will reduce the amount of income you have to spend on your mortgage.

  10. DON’T forget stamp duty

    Stamp duty can be a pretty hefty extra on top of the purchase price of the property you’re buying. The good news is that properties under £125,000 are exempt. But the bad news is that the average purchase price among first-time home buyers in the UK was £205,170 in 2016. The tax applies to both freehold and leasehold properties – whether you’re buying outright or with a mortgage. There are several rate bands for stamp duty and the tax is calculated on the part of the purchase price that falls within each band. (0% on £0-£125,000; 2% on £125,000-£250,000; 5% on £250,001-£925,000 and so on). So let’s say you buy a house for £275,000, the stamp duty is £3,750. Oh, and you only have 30 days to pay it after purchase (your solicitor will usually deal with the stamp duty return on your behalf, but double-check).

  11. DON’T settle for a bad mortgage deal

    Like anything, it pays to shop around when it comes to mortgages. A smart way for a first-time home buyer to do this is through a mortgage broker. Many charge fees, so look beyond your neighbourhood broker and instead use real-time, online services such as habito. We’re completely free, available 24/7 from any device and, most importantly, search thousands of mortgages across the market to find the right one for you.

  12. DON’T automatically use the estate agent for brokering…

    Did you know the UK’s largest mortgage broker is also the country’s largest estate agent. Countrywide brokered an astonishing £12.2 billion of mortgages in 2015. The problem is that estate agents are raking in the cash from these in-house deals and the customer isn’t benefitting. Discussing finances with an in-house broker effectively lets the estate agent know the maximum you can afford to pay for a property. This is not an ideal bargaining position. Habito doesn’t sell houses, we only broker mortgages, never at any cost. 

  13. …or conveyancing

    Similarly, you should avoid using an estate agent’s recommended conveyancer as it will likely be a commission-based recommendation and end up costing you more. Instead, negotiate a fixed fee with your solicitor or a licensed conveyancer for the work.

  14. DO compare the costs of moving

    As completion day on your new home approaches, sundry costs such as council tax, home insurance and removal fees can quickly mount up. So make sure that you plan for these well in advance and get the best price you can. Make a budget and include everything from removal fees and mail redirection to buildings insurance and council tax. And remember, you don’t have to stay with the same utility companies as the previous owner, so shop around and get the best deal on everything from energy to broadband.

  15. DO remember – you can remortgage when you’ve bought your home!

    Remortgaging is just like switching your energy, mobile or broadband provider, only with much bigger returns. If you’ve had a mortgage for more than two years your introductory offer could have expired, leaving you on an SVR (standard variable rate). What does that mean? When your fixed term ends (usually two years or five years), your initial rate is over and you’re then switched on to your lender’s standard rate – which is usually significantly higher. You could possibly save thousands – yes, thousands – of pounds a year just by switching to a new lender. When it’s time to remortgage, habito alerts customers and helps them switch quickly and easily so they can be sure they’ll never pay more than they have to.

Traditional mortgage broker

Mortgage Brokers Online VS Traditional Brokers

A break with tradition – how online brokers are taking the misery out of mortgages

We’ve come along way in the world of online personal finance. Mobile payments, money transfer, online banking, the list goes on. So how comes, up until last year, you were still unable to apply for a mortgage entirely online.
 
Yes, you could transfer cash to your mate via SMS, or pay for your lunchtime sandwich with a tap of your watch. But mortgages were firmly stuck in the technological dark ages, and ripe for a spot of digital disruption.

Traditional mortgage brokers – all pain, no gain

Before Habito emerged on the scene in early 2016, hopeful home-buyers were not surrounded with options for a pain free mortgage. Getting a mortgage meant queuing up at a bank, or waiting on hold to speak to a call-centre mortgage broker. Booking a face to face appointment with an advisor didn’t guarantee a smooth transaction, and often commanded a £200 plus fee.
 
The period of time after your application was no better, with progress held up by mountains of paper work, and progress updates drip-fed. In short, the mortgage landscape was not a pretty one, and we wanted to do something about it.

Putting customers back in control

Thanks to the arrival of Habito, the process of purchasing a property has now become a lot less painful. We’ve streamlined the once archaic mortgage application process, with a few simple goals. Saving customers time, money, effort and stress – and letting them get on with the things that really matter. Like picking which shade of buttercream yellow to paint the new kitchen!
 
But how have online brokers such as Habito solved the mortgage mess? Simply put, we’ve taken the hassle out of home buying by using a combination of tech and teamwork. We know cutting-edge technology can help speed up the product search, finding you the right product in seconds. We search over 10,000 products from over 70 lenders, and find the right one suited to you instantly. Furthermore, we know people always like the reassurance of another human at the end of the line. Our team are here to answer those all important questions. Every case is different, and requires specific attention to make sure the right product is matched up. This is why we have a team of industry-leading mortgage experts, who are always ready to answer your questions.

Customer Story 

Just think – you can finally say good riddance to a frustrating and outdated way of getting a mortgage. The future of mortgages is here and it’s fast, free and frictionless – as first-time buyer Juwon Layiwola found out.
 
Juwon was ready to own his own home, so he went to a traditional broker in east London. This was his local high street broker, and close to his work. But when he found out he was going to be charged £800 just to get an Agreement in Principle, he chose to go online instead. Juwon wanted to take back control, and Habito let him start the mortgage process whenever he wanted.
 
I shared all of my financial details with Habito online and they did the rest,” says Juwon. “No need to travel or meet anyone face-to-face. It was sorted quickly, I didn’t have to pay any broker fees and it was all done in a way that fitted in with my schedule. In 2017, you should be able to sort your mortgage from your mobile just like you do any other banking services.”

Traditional vs online mortgage brokers: the facts

Traditional mortgage brokers

  • Customer fees are often high
  • Analyse limited range of lenders
  • Limited office hours
  • Recommendation can take weeks

Online mortgage brokers

  • Service is fee-free
  • Analyse vast range of lenders
  • Service available 24/7
  • Recommendation within days

How online mortgage broking works

Digital mortgage brokers are totally online

The mortgage industry is complicated, with nearly 100 lenders and over 10,000 different products available to consumers in the UK. This huge market has allowed the industry to stagnate, with consumers grumpily putting up with the services available.
 
Most high-street brokers will look at 11 to 12 lenders, and process an application in two to three weeks. Habito’s clever tech allows our mortgage experts to analyse every deal from over 70 lenders in seconds. We find the best match for home buyers and make an application online in record time. The process is completely impartial and never favours one lender over another. This means you can avoid estate agents pushing their in house brokers, and save yourself from the limited range of products they offer.
 
Plus, Habito is always transparent about the rates and true costs. We exist solely to save you money, simplify the mortgage process and find you the best rate available. We cut through lenders’ teasers and spin to get down to the nitty-gritty, so you know exactly how much your mortgage will cost you.

Our mortgage promise

We let homeowners know if a better rate is available through a lender we don’t have access to. Once you’ve got a mortgage with Habito, we’ll alert you to when a better deal comes along so you never overpay.
 
Because Habito is a digital mortgage broker, we don’t need to charge a hefty fee for helping people secure a mortgage. That’s right, our service is completely free from start to finish! We do get paid a small fee by the lenders for processing your mortgage application. It’s a fraction of the value of your mortgage but we’ll always tell you exactly what we’re getting paid. This is because we want you to know the full story when taking out a mortgage.

Brilliant, where do I sign up?

The best part is you can sign up with us on your desktop, phone or tablet, 24/7. Habito fits in with your lifestyle, not the other way round. The first step is a  conversation with our Digital Mortgage Adviser to discuss your mortgage needs. This will help you find the best option for your individual circumstances. You can chat everything through with our mortgage experts via online live chat every day. All from the comfort of your sofa.

Habito free digital mortgage broker

How Habito came about

So what brought about this long-overdue shake-up of the mortgage industry? As is so often the case, the ‘Eureka!’ moment started with a pain-in-the-neck problem. Two years ago, Habito founder Daniel Hegarty found out first-hand just how complicated the mortgage process can be. This prompted him to take a stand in the mortgage market. 
 
His ‘trusty’ mortgage adviser entered his details wrong not once, but twice. This resulted in a hugely frustrating 10-day delay on both occasions. The double administrative screw-up ended up nearly costing Daniel his dream house – but it also got him thinking. With a background in technology and financial services, Daniel knew there had to be a better way. So he started with a blank canvas and rebuilt the mortgage broking process from the bottom up. This put customers first, building the service around them.
 
Customer response so far shows that Daniel wasn’t the only one frustrated with the traditional mortgage broking system. Since Habito launched in 2016, we have already helped more than 30,000 Britons better understand their mortgage needs. To date, we have completed over £250 million in mortgage applications. Our customer feedback echoes the message we wanted to send out when we set up Habito. Saving people time, money and hassle is our goal, and every positive message we get continues to drive us.
 
Our efforts to redesign the mortgage broking market have been supported by an impressive list of investors. This includes TransferWise CEO Taavet Hinrikus, Funding Circle founder Samir Desai, and Paul Forster of Indeed.com.
 
So what’s the hold-up? Sign up now, and speak to a member of our friendly mortgage expert team and get one step closer to mortgage bliss.

Homes by Habito: Hirra Khan

Meet Hirra, a twenty-something charity worker who got married in 2012. She wanted nothing more than to get on the property ladder with her new husband.
Fast forward four years, and Hirra finally has her dream home. But it wasn’t easy. After doing some research, she decided that Shared Ownership would be a good option.
She spent the early part of her property search looking for property in Hammersmith and Fulham. This was where the couple had planted their London roots when they first moved in together.
 
“It was a steep learning curve for us. We loved our area, but realized very quickly that there was no way we could afford a home in Zone 2 or for that matter, in most parts of London. Plus, even when we did find something that might work we were blindsided by hidden fees that meant we were always just a little bit short.”
 

The Alternatives

With Shared Ownership, local councils usually give priority to people who live and/or work in the borough. For the Khans that limited their scope significantly. So, after years of hoping an affordable home would come up in the Hammersmith and Fulham area, they widened their net to East London. The couple were lucky enough to find a property in Tower Hamlets where they were able to be considered for Shared Ownership. This was due to the abundance of eligible properties in the borough.
“It was our last viewing and we were so reluctant to go, as every one before was disappointing. It was either too small, run down or in the middle of nowhere. But I forced us there and, luckily, it was perfect. A 2-bedroom, new-build with great transport links. It was exactly what we’d been looking for.”
 
Getting a mortgage was the next hurdle. With Shared Ownership properties, it’s imperative your mortgage application is turned around quickly. Hirra had worked with traditional mortgage brokers before, but never had an amazing experience. They were either unhelpful and slow, or charging a £500+ fee for their service – a fee the Khans couldn’t afford to pay. After seeing an ad for habito in her local tube station, she thought they would give it a try.
 
“I did my research on habito, as we’d been let down so many times before. We were pleasantly surprised. The sign-on process was super clear and easy to use. And the digital mortgage adviser – an AI chatbot – really helped me comprehend our mortgage options. I liked how it helped us to understand the impact each decision will have on our future payments.” 
 

So What Next?

On paper, everything lined up. Deposit. Check. Perfect property. Check. Lender-backed Agreement-In-Principle. Check. But her application was rejected. The couple had good credit scores, were both employed, had submitted all the right documents, so what had gone wrong??
 
As it turned out, it was a case of mistaken identity. Hirra’s husband Paul was mistaken for his father with the same name and address, who unfortunately had adverse credit. Fortunately, they had habito on their side.
 
“We talked to the housing Association’s mortgage brokers and they couldn’t understand what went wrong. A bank even said we were too high-risk which is why we’d been rejected. Thankfully, habito weren’t willing to accept the result and went back to the lender on our behalf.”
 
Patrick Usher, Head of Mortgage Sourcing at habito, explained what happened.
 
“Too often people lose out on their dream home because a bank takes the negative result at face value. If Paul had a different name on paper to his father, the Khan’s mortgage would have been sorted in as little as a week. Ninety percent of our cases are straightforward, requiring minimal broker involvement. I know it’s that 10% when people need someone in their corner, where we provide the most value.”
 
Within three weeks, Hirra and Paul had their mortgage. We were able to help them find mortgage bliss, and get their foot on the property ladder. 

Is it better to invest beyond London?

Which one?

This question falls under the remit of a common answer: it depends on your personal circumstances. Also, we can’t tell you what to do with your money, after all. There are, however, some facts surrounding the differences between these two areas in the property market we can tell you.
 
Property in London has always commanded a premium compared to the rest of the UK. There are numerous reasons behind this, including higher average wages in the city. There is also less space to continue building, so new homes in the capital are being built upwards (flat blocks).
Furthermore, people are constrained by employment when it comes to moving areas to buy property. This is one of the reasons why prices in London continue to rise, as 15% of the UK workforce is located in one city. With high-paying jobs being concentrated in London, the prices of property can reside at a higher point than the rest of the UK.
One thing we can say, is if you want to purchase property, with the intent of aiming it one day, it will be easier outside of London. This is purely based on the fact that on average, it’s going to be cheaper.

What can Habito do?

At the end of the day we cannot answer this question with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. We can’t tell you where to invest your money, but we can help you invest in property. Getting a mortgage can be a daunting experience, that’s why we’re here to help you every step of the way.

If you’re interested in finding out how much you could expect to borrow, head over to our Digital Mortgage Adviser. Within minutes, you could find out what mortgage would be right for you, all for free and with no credit checks. The next step is speaking to a member of our mortgage expert team, who will handle your application from sign-up to completion. They’re here to answer any questions you might have, and guide you through the mortgage process in a responsible and empowering way. This is all part of our mortgage promise. To save you time and money, and get one step closer to mortgage bliss.
 

How do I overcome the fear of applying for a mortgage when I am self employed?

The way we work today has changed. Many more of us have the freedom – and the uncertainty – of ‘portfolio careers’ and other non-traditional forms of employment. In other words, we get to be our own boss, whether as a sole trader, a contractor or a limited company director. It can be exhilarating, but it can also be worrying. Self-employment as a trend has been increasing for the last decade in the UK. Between 2006 and 2016, the number of those in self-employment increased from 3.7m people to 4.6m people.

A concern for many is whether there’s an extra price to pay when it comes to buying your own home. There’s a definite shared sense of fear when it comes to self-employment and mortgages. How can we prove our income when we don’t fit neatly into a salaried box? Will we be restricted to a narrow selection of uncompetitive deals? Will anyone even want to lend to us?

Should I be worried?

Take it from us: there’s nothing to fear. Lenders live in the modern world – and they want borrowers. They do need to know, however, that you’ll be able to afford your mortgage now and in the future. So you just need to be able to prove this. You’ll need to show them that you have been trading for a certain period – the industry standard is two years, though some lenders ask for three – and be able to supply figures to prove your income.

The way to do this is simple. To get yourself mortgage-ready, you’ll need some information from HMRC. Ask for your SA302s and tax year overviews for the last two or three years. These show the income you declared, the tax paid and your profit. For lenders, they function as payslips. The lender will look at the numbers and – unless there’s an enormous discrepancy between the years – they’ll be able to use the figures to calculate the amount they’ll lend. That’s all there is to it. There should be no discrimination. When it comes to the amount you need for a deposit, say, you should fare the same as everyone else. And contractors may find it even easier, with lenders willing to lend based on your day rate.

What should I do then?

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of applying for a mortgage if you’re self-employed. The first step towards getting a mortgage with Habito is heading to our website. Our Digital Mortgage Adviser will give you an understanding of how much you could expect to borrow in minutes. From there, you can have a chat with a member of our mortgage expert team. They will answer any questions you might have and guide you through the process. This is part of our mortgage promise to take the hassle out of the process, and help you find mortgage bliss.

 

How do I find out what my property is worth?

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or looking to remortgage, your property must be valued before your mortgage is approved. This is because lenders need to know they are lending the correct amount of money.A mortgage is a ‘secured loan‘ because the money you are being lent is secured against the value of the property.

This means lenders need to have an accurate estimate of what your property is worth. This is so they don’t end up lending you more than the value of the property. More importantly, you’re going to want a survey to check the condition of the property depending on its current state. This is to make sure the property you’re buying is up to the standard you expect.

First Time Buyers and Home Movers

There are several different types of home valuations depending on several factors. The two main factors are which type of mortgage you need, and the condition of the property. These valuations all have different prices, another factor to take into account when totting up what you are spending on home-buying services. For more information, check out the Money Advice Service’s website.  

  • A Condition Report is a basic survey suitable for new-builds and homes in good condition. A HomeBuyer Report is a survey for property in decent condition, and will identify any structural issues or problems like damp.
  • A Home Condition Survey is similar to a full building survey. This will provide you with information on how to deal with problems identified at the property.
  • Full Structural Survey is suitable for older home or properties requiring repairs. This is an extensive survey providing detailed advice on repairs. It also includes a report on the potential for hidden defects in the property.

Remortgages

If you’re looking to remortgage, lenders will also have to carry out a valuation. This will not be as thorough as a first-time buyer or home mover mortgage.  That’s because your lender will have already valued your house. This means they already have a figure to base their valuation on.

The reason they need to carry out another valuation is to make sure your property hasn’t deteriorated and lost value. Often lenders will carry out a very quick valuation for a remortgage, often just driving past the property! However, you should build in some time for this to happen in your remortgaging process.

For more information on remortgages, including when and how it is advisable to remortgage, head over to our dedicated page.

You can do your own property valuation

Finally, there are also ways of checking the value of your property yourself. Lenders will likely not accept this as a final valuation, but it is always helpful to know. There are several free online valuation services available, we suggest you check out Settled. You can also check out historical sale prices of similar property in your area to guide your valuation. One place you can find these sale prices is the HM Land Registry

What Next?

Finding out how much your house is worth is usually one of the earlier steps to take in the process of getting a mortgage. However, you can start speaking to a mortgage expert before your valuation. In the case of remortgages, they can advise when exactly to get these valuations done. If you’d like to get in contact with a member of our mortgage expert team, head over to Habito. They should be able to answer any questions you have, and guide you through your application. So what’s the wait? Get started now.

interest only repayment mortgages

What’s the difference between an interest-only and a repayment mortgage?

What is interest and why’s it so important?

When you borrow an amount of money as a loan, you agree to pay it back. You agree to how much you’re going to borrow, and how long for. When people take out a loan, it is typical that they will pay interest on the amount of money they borrowed. The amount of money borrowed is typically referred to as ‘the capital’.
 
Interest is a fee you pay on the capital you borrow. It is a monthly percentage of the money you are borrowing. At the start of your mortgage, most of your monthly payments will be interest. As you continue to pay if off, your monthly payments will cover the capital more, and less interest.

Repayment mortgages

When people talk about mortgages, they are typically referring to repayment mortgages. This is where you borrow the capital, and pay interest on the remaining capital until the capital is paid off. When you have finished paying off your capital, you will own your home. These mortgages are great if you are planning on settling down, and want to eventually own your own home. As this is the aim of most people who take out mortgages, these are by far the most popular type of mortgage.
 

Interest-Only mortgages

An interest-only mortgage is when you only pay interest on the capital you borrow. This means lower monthly payments as you are not paying off the capital. However, when your mortgage term is up, you will still owe the full sum of the capital. The most common way of paying this back is through the sale of the property. If this is your repayment strategy, you are at risk if property prices fall by the time you come to sell.
 
This is called negative equity, where you have borrowed more than the property is worth, leaving you to find the rest of the sum you borrowed. As you can see, interest-only mortgages pose a greater risk to the lender and borrower. This makes being approved for one more difficult than a repayment mortgage. You will have to have a solid repayment strategy in place to be approved. 

So which one should I choose?

Just with many of the questions you might have found on this blog, it depends on your personal circumstances. There are some suggestions we can make however. If you are looking to settle down and own your own property, with less risk, repayment mortgages are the right idea. If you are looking to live in a property with the possibility of packing up and moving some day, interest only might be a suggestion.
 

Can I talk to someone about them?

If you have questions about which would be the right choice for you, you’re in the right place. Our team of mortgage experts are on hand to answer any questions you might have about mortgages. They’re available for online live chats, and phone calls during these hours:
Monday-Tuesday: 9am – 10pm
Wednesday-Friday: 9am-5pm
Saturday-Sunday: 10am – 10pm
 
We built Habito around the customer, and understand people want to speak to a qualified human being. Our team are a friendly bunch, so what’s the wait? Get speaking to an expert today to see if we can help you find mortgage bliss.
what happens to my mortgage if i lose my job

What happens if I lose my job, or am unable to make a repayment?

First things first

Maintaining your monthly payments is critical to staying on the good side of your lender. It is in both the lenders and your best interest to avoid defaulting on your mortgage. If your circumstances change, lenders will work with you to help continue repaying your mortgage. To put it simply, lenders would rather you were paying some money rather than no money towards your mortgage.

If you do lose your job or take a salary cut, it’s important to communicate this with your lender as soon as possible. If you take a salary cut, lenders may be able to adjust your mortgage terms to fit around your new salary. This might mean a raise in your interest rates, but lower monthly payments that you can continue to manage. If you have lost your job we advise heading over to the Money Advice Services information page on being out of work.

Payment protection

If you lose your job, the first thing to check is whether you have any payment protection. This is a form of insurance you may have been sold when you took out your mortgage. Due to the sales techniques used in the past, you may not be aware that you have payment protection. This means it is advisable to check with your lender whether or not you have this form of cover. If you do have payment protection, the level of cover it will provide will depend on the policy you took out. The government has advice on claiming payment protection and what to do if you think you may have been mis-sold it.

Mortgage holidays

Mortgage lenders also have features called ‘mortgage holidays’ which your product may be covered by. It is important to note that not all mortgages have this option. Some mortgages will require you to have previously overpaid to be able to access a mortgage holiday.

A mortgage holiday allows you to suspend monthly payments for an agreed period of time. Your mortgage balance will be accruing interest for the duration of the holiday, which can push back the term of the mortgage. Mortgage holidays will temporarily reduce the burden of your monthly payments. This is extremely helpful if you are moving between jobs and not earning, or taking a break from work. Mortgage holidays are a temporary solution and are not suitable if you have a permanent drop in household income. The Money Advice Service has further information available on mortgage holidays here.

Communication

The most important thing to do should you lose your job or take a pay cut is communicate with your lender. Waiting even a few days can eat up your buffer zone of time and lead you into further problems. If you’re quick to speak with your mortgage lender you should be able to come to an agreement for how to continue managing your mortgage. If you aren’t able to come to an agreement, just having time on your side is an advantage when it comes to planning how you will decide to continue. So, pay cuts and unexpected job losses needn’t keep you up at night if you have, or are looking for, a mortgage.

 

What can go wrong when I’m applying for a mortgage?

Hopefully nothing, but….

The most common issue people have when applying for a mortgage is bad credit. Lenders perform affordability assessments on all applicants, and a history of credit issues is a red flag. Credit issues won’t come out of the blue, and working towards minimising any you might have is a must before applying for a mortgage. This post details credit issues that can be resolved, and credit issues that can cause a real barrier to a successful application. If you do have bad credit history, there are organisations that can offer advice. Speak to the Money Advice Service in the first instance.

Having credit commitments shouldn’t be a barrier to mortgages. Manageable debts such as credit cards and student loans prove to lenders you can borrow responsibly. If you keep on top of your monthly payments, credit shouldn’t detract from your mortgage eligibility.

These issues shouldn’t stop you being able to get a mortgage. However, if you do fall into these categories, it’s a good idea to resolve them to make sure you get the best possible mortgage offer. Here are two issues that could prevent you getting a mortgage.

Low Credit Score

A credit score is a number which reflects your borrowing habits. Different credit scoring agencies will have different scales to measure this, but they all work on the same principle. The better your borrowing habits, the higher you’ll score. There are several credit rating agencies in Britain including Equifax, Experian, Callcredit and ClearScore.

The information in your credit file includes:

  • Search footprints on your file, such as credit applications
  • Financial links to other people including joint loans and bank accounts
  • Late / missed payments or defaults
  • Outstanding debt with lenders
  • County Court Judgments (CCJs) against you
  • If you’re on the electoral register at your current address
  • If you have been declared bankrupt or entered an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement).

We encourage all applicants to create accounts with the three main agencies and check their score. Applying for mortgages before checking your credit score can cause some nasty surprises. We want to help you avoid that happening, so try and stay on top of your credit before applying.

There are many ways to improve your credit score and increase your chance of a successful mortgage application. We would recommend checking out the Money Advice Services guide to increasing your credit score before anything else.

Unstable Income

Large fluctuations in income and spending can be another red flag to lenders. Your income is the main factor that lenders take into account when assessing affordability. This is why lenders need evidence of your income for the last two years at least, and several months of bank statements to check spending.

Because of the length of a mortgage, lenders need to be able to predict your future income so they can be sure you will be able to manage future payments. If your income has large fluctuations, it will be harder for lenders to predict this accurately. This is why income can become such an issue when applying for a mortgage.

Furthermore, erratic spending patterns can also have an impact on your mortgage application. Lenders will be impressed with stable, manageable monthly outgoings. You can read more about income and outgoing in our post that answers the question ‘How much can I borrow?’.

Some credit issues can prevent a successful mortgage application. This is because of the criteria lenders must follow to ensure appropriate lending. Issues such as CCJs and IVAs will stay on your credit file for 6 years and will seriously affect your mortgage eligibility. If you have defaulted on a previous mortgage, it is unlikely you will be approved for another mortgage. These issues will present a greater challenge to getting a mortgage, but some lenders can help those who fall into these categories.

You can help yourself by always staying on top of your credit and spending. We encourage people to go out and check their scores with the different credit agencies, and work towards improving them if possible. We want to help you borrow responsibly, and we think managing your personal finances is a great place to start.

better mortgage deal

What happens if I see a better mortgage deal, or my circumstances change?

This will depend on your lender and mortgage product. Some products allow greater flexibility when looking to change mortgage. Other products will have penalties for switching products or leaving early to take advantage of better rates.

Fixed rates

If you are on a fixed rate deal, it is likely you will have to pay a fee to leave your deal early. Fixed rate mortgages have the benefit of certainty as they lock in an agreed rate for a fixed number of years. Fixed rates have, over the last few years, continued to fall. Between July 2012 and July 2017, average interest rates for a 2-year fixed 75% LTV mortgages dropped by 2.25%. Yes – you read that right!

Most fixed rate deals have 2-, 3- and 5-year introductory terms. Once this period expires, you will be transferred over to your lender’s standard variable rate (SVR). If you leave your fixed rate deal early, you may be charged a penalty fee by your lender. This might negate the effect of moving to a cheaper deal, so careful checking is important. This is something you need to take into account when thinking about switching. These deals are usually only a few years long so forking out to leave early, and then only saving a small amount monthly might not be worth it. If you’d like more information on what a fixed rate is, and its advantages, check out our fixed rate blog post.

Standard Variable Rate (SVR)

If you have found yourself on your lender’s standard variable rate, it’s probably time to make a move. This is the lender’s ‘default’ mortgage rate, and it’s significantly more expensive than any other rates they offer. At the time of writing, the average SVR rate in the UK was 4.28%. The average interest rate for a 2-year fixed 75% LTV mortgages was 1.42%. That’s a 2.86% difference (!), which equates to massive savings over a long period of time.

One positive of being on an SVR is not paying fees to switch to another rate. If you are switching to a deal with your existing lender, this should be a relatively straightforward process. If you are switching to a different lender, the first thing to do is head over to our Digital Mortgage Adviser where you can get an idea of your remortgage savings in minutes. From there you can have a live web chat or phone call with one of our friendly mortgage experts. They’re here to answer any questions you might have, and guide you through your mortgage application. That’s what we call mortgage bliss.

 

when should i look for a mortgage

At what stage in the housebuying process should I start to think about a mortgage?

When should mortgages cross my mind?

As early as possible! As much as we all dream of that perfect house, it’s important to have an idea of what you can afford before you get carried away. If you are planning on using a mortgage to buy a house, you need a clear understanding of how much you can expect to borrow. This is essential to streamline the process as you hunt for the right home. 

So how do I find out how much I can borrow?

If you head over to our Digital Mortgage Adviser, you can get an idea in a matter of minutes. The first step is to enter some basic information on your income and credit situation. This stage is super quick (it should take less than 5 minutes) and doesn’t require a credit check. You’ll then have your own Habito Mortgage Illustration, and an even clearer understanding of your options. 

Habito Mortgage Illustration

This illustration will break down the mortgage product you can expect to be offered by a lender. It will detail how much you could borrow, the monthly payments on this amount, your loan to value  (LTV ratio), and which lender is offering the product. It has slider functionality that allows you to adjust your deposit, borrowing amount and mortgage term. This lets you see the effect increasing your deposit has on the interest rate you are offered.

Home buying timeline

Buying a home isn’t the most straightforward purchase. Careful research will help you make the right decision when you come to make an offer on property. When searching for a home, it’s essential to have an idea of how much you can expect to borrow. Before viewing a property, you may be required by an estate agent to get an agreement in principle (also known as an AIP).

Once you’ve got your mortgage illustration you’re not that far away from your own AIP. All you need to do is enter some more information about your future plans before speaking with one of our mortgage experts. They will give you advice on mortgage products and let you know which documents you will have to submit.

Following their recommendations and a credit check (sorry guys, but we have to) you can expect to receive an AIP. This document will give you greater credibility when dealing with estate agents, and a leg-up in the fast moving property market.

 

How much should mortgage brokerage cost?

In our opinion, brokering a mortgage should cost nothing. The home buying process is expensive enough with estate agent fees, insurance, lender fees and valuations, just to mention a few! We think broking should be free to customers. Habito is totally free to you because we charge lenders, not borrowers.

We’re not saying mortgage broking is an easy job. There are more mortgage products on offer than ever before. Increased variety of products means that there are better mortgages out there. But with more products to search, the hunt for the right product has become more complicated. That’s why mortgage brokers are so grateful for the power of computers.

When our founder Daniel went through the mortgage process himself he saw first-hand how difficult, error-prone and expensive it was. That’s why he started Habito and dragged the mortgage industry into the 21st century.

We created a dream team of industry-leading mortgage experts and cutting edge technology. This highly effective combo has helped us change the mortgage game, without pushing any of the costs onto the consumer.

So how much do other brokers cost?

It depends. Brokers who work as private financial advisers will charge different rates to estate agent brokers. Some brokers will charge a flat fee, e.g. £495, then receive commission from the lender as well. Other brokers will charge a fee as a percentage of the loan amount, going all the way up to 1 – 1.5%.

The more expensive the property they are advising you on, the more you can expect to pay. This means high price property purchases could wind up some serious broker fees.

I don’t want to pay anything

Well you’ve come to the right place! You might be thinking ‘What’s the catch?’ Well, the answer is there is no catch. By charging lenders a procurement fee, we are able to make money as a business, whilst offering a totally free service to our customers. And just because it’s free doesn’t mean we’re cheap. We have the best in the business when it comes to mortgage experts, case managers and engineers. Whilst there might be other companies offering free brokerage, we’re sure they won’t be able to match our service. This is one of many reasons to save some time and money, and start your mortgage journey with Habito.

What do mortgage brokers do exactly?

What can they do for me?

Save you time and money of course! Well, that’s what we are committed to here at Habito. We are mortgage match makers, pairing you to the right deal, and making sure you’re never overcharged. This means getting to know you, the customer, and comparing your requirements against the mortgage products available on market. We have access to over 20,000 products from more than 70 lenders, so this is a job for professionals. This means not just saying ‘yes’ to the first offer you get, but using our expert understanding to pair you to the right deal. We’ve created an infographic outlining the mortgage journey and what’s involved at each step. You can check it out on our homepage, the link is in the bottom left-hand corner. 

Pairing people and products

We take your personal circumstances into account to help you find mortgage harmony. This means understanding your employment situation, income, debt and life events. We use this information to give you an overview of the mortgage you could get. We call this overview the Habito Mortgage Illustration. It’s a detailed breakdown of the mortgage product you could expect to be offered sourced from actual products. This illustration includes monthly payments, interest rates, LTV ratios and which lender is offering the deal. It also has an adjustment function which allows you to see the effect changing the deposit or borrowing amount has on interest rates.

Expert advice

Once you’ve got your personal mortgage illustration, the next step is expert advice. Our team of mortgage experts are available for calls and web-chats 7 days a week as follows:

Monday and Tuesday: 9am – 9pm
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: 9am – 5pm
Saturday and Sunday: 12 – 5pm

The mortgage expert team will answer any questions you might have, and guide you through your application. You’ll be able to see the progress of your application on your dashboard and keep up to date with what’s happening.

We’ll let you know what documents you’ll have to submit, how to submit them, and who to send them to. If you’d like more information on the documents you’ll need for a mortgage, there is a blog post on the topic here. These documents are then sent off for underwriting, and we’ll keep you in the loop while this is happening.

Our mortgage promise

It’s not just the mortgage application and completion we do differently here at Habito. Once you’ve completed your mortgage, we’ll keep a close eye on it to make sure you never end up on your lender’s standard variable rate (SVR). When your fixed term is up, this is the rate you will automatically find yourself on. You can find more information on SVRs (and why to avoid them) right here. Homeowners in Britain are paying considerably more on their SVR than a fixed rate, and this is something we want to help you avoid. When the time to remortgage comes along we’ll let you know, and provide the same, helpful service. With minimal effort, we’ll find the right product for your circumstances, and make the switch. That’s what we call ‘mortgage harmony’.

 

What is a variable-rate mortgage and how does it work?

What are they?

When you take out a mortgage, you will typically repay the money you borrow, the ‘capital’, along with interest on the loan. The interest you pay on the loan can vary depending on the mortgage product you take out. Interest rates offered are either fixed or variable. If you’d like some more information on fixed rate mortgages you can head over to a blog post we have on them here. The two main variable rates are the standard variable rate and the tracker rate.

Standard Variable Rate

A standard variable rate mortgage or SVR is an interest rate that is set by, and varies, between lender. Each lender’s SVR will differ and is based on a number of factors. The SVR can be thought of as the default interest rate lenders charge on mortgages. When your fixed term ends, you will be moved over to the SVR automatically. Whilst SVR rates may rise and fall with Bank of England interest rates, lenders set the SVR  arbitrarily and can adjust it at their discretion.

There are some positives to standard variable rates. The main benefit of being on an SVR is that there are often no early repayment charges on these loans. These are charges you incur for paying off your whole loan in order to remortgage. Overpaying means paying more than the agreed monthly amount. There are a number of reasons why people overpay. The most common are coming into a large sum of money, such as a severance/redundancy payout or inheritance. Repayment is when you repay the whole current balance in order to remortgage. Lenders will often charge hefty fees for doing this on fixed rate mortgages, something you need to watch out for.

Tracker Rate

Tracker rates, you guessed it, track another interest rate. This is usually the Bank of England’s base rate, plus a fixed amount e.g. 2.5%. This means when central bank interest rates increase, your monthly payments will increase. Conversely, where they to drop, you would pay less per month in interest. However, with tracker mortgages, you are usually not free from early repayment charges if you want to switch and remortgage.

Which Do I Choose?

About that, neither really. Right now, mortgages are being offered for historically low-interest rates (for low LTV products). Even the lowest SVR is likely to be 1.5-2.0% higher interest than the lowest fixed rate at the moment. This means if you are on your lender’s SVR, chances are you’re paying over the odds. Not to worry, Habito can help with this. Head over to our Digital Mortgage Adviser for remortgage advice. In a matter of minutes, you could have an illustration of your new mortgage product, and how much you could be saving a month. People who switch from their lenders SVR to a fixed rate can save hundreds, if not thousands a year. For more advice on remortgages, we have an area of our blog dedicated to them right here.

 

What is a fixed-rate mortgage and how does it work?

What’s a rate, and how do I fix it?

A mortgage is a contract where you agree to pay back an amount of money over a period of time. Whilst you are paying back the money you borrowed, you will be paying interest on this amount. Different mortgage products offered will have different interest rates that will be set for specific amounts of time. Mortgages typically have 20-30 year length terms. This means it’s unlikely you will be paying the same interest rate for the whole duration.

This is because the global economy affects how much it costs banks to borrow money. This cost is then transferred onto the consumer. Because of this, your interest rates are likely to change every few years. It is vital that you take control of this, and keep your rates as low as possible. 

A fixed rate mortgage means the interest you pay will not change for the period of time you agree. As mentioned above, this rate is unlikely to be fixed for the duration of the mortgage, but more like 2-7 years. The lower the current interest rates, the more advisable it is to lengthen the term of your fixed rate.

What are the benefits?

Fixing your mortgage interest rate protects you from fluctuations in bank interest rates. This works as a form of insurance on the interest you pay on your mortgage. Fixing your rate may mean you pay more over the period it is fixed, but this is the premium you pay for knowing your rates won’t suddenly increase.

These rates are only fixed for an agreed period of time, and once this is up you will go onto your lender’s standard variable rate. This rate, also known as the SVR, is tied to interbank lending rates and national interest rates. The interest you pay on an SVR is usually a lot greater than that of a fixed rate, so making sure you’re not on your lender’s SVR can be a valuable endeavour. Ending up on your lender’s SVR for even a short period of time can cost you serious money. Check out our blog post covering the ‘mortgage loyalty penalty’ for more information on why it’s worth checking you’re safe from excess fees.

If you’re currently on your lender’s SVR, we can save you hundreds, possibly thousands of pounds by remortgaging. If you’re wondering when it’s time to think about a remortgage, we have a dedicated blog post. This is usually five months before your fixed term ends, and the time to speak to one of our mortgage experts.

Our mortgage promise means we won’t let you end up on your SVR once you take a mortgage out through Habito. We watch your mortgage, and when it looks like it’s time to think about remortgaging, we’ll let you know. This means you’ll never end up on your lender’s SVR, and you’ll never end up overpaying. Genius.

 

Does a career gap influence a mortgage application?

Taking a career gap is becoming more popular with more than 90,000 Britons a year taking unpaid leave or a sabbatical according to the Independent. Career gaps can actually be beneficial for your career and you shouldn’t be penalised for taking one!

When it comes to lenders assessing your finances for a mortgage, it’s all about your ability to repay the loan. So if you can provide evidence that you’re suitable for a mortgage product, a career gap shouldn’t be a worry. If you’ve recently started a new job, we have a blog post covering any questions you might have as well.

This obviously depends on which lender you’re applying to and what products you’re looking for. Just with any mortgage application lenders will take your current income into account. When looking for a mortgage, evidence of consistent long term income is always good.

If your career break has a good explanation and you have since returned to work, there shouldn’t be a problem and it’s likely that there’s a product out there for you.

We can help

If you’re wondering whether your career gap could affect your chances of getting a mortgage, don’t hesitate to speak to one of our mortgage experts.

They’re available every weekday and on the weekend to offer free mortgage advice:
Monday and Tuesday: 9am – 9pm
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: 9am – 5pm
Saturday and Sunday: 12 – 5pm

Our friendly expert team will answer any questions you might have concerning your application, so what are you waiting for?

new job mortgage application

What if I’ve just started a new job – will that make a difference to my mortgage eligibility?

As with so much of this, it depends on the lender. Each UK lender has its own eligibility criteria. Some won’t care whether or not you’re still on probation in a new job. Other lenders may have conditions that you be employed a certain length of time before approving a mortgage.

Is it a problem?

Generally, having a new job shouldn’t be a problem – after all, with any luck you’ll have had a pay rise so it’s all to the good. With many mortgage questions, it’s down to finding the right lender who’s willing to accept your personal circumstances.
 
Changing jobs, or having gaps between jobs, should not be a matter as long as you have stable income and good credit. Lenders perform an affordability assessment before approving any mortgage. This involves testing whether you would still be able to keep up repayments in the situation of an interest rate hike. If you pass their affordability assessment, having a new job should not be a problem.

How do I prove my income if I have a new job?

One of the main pieces of information lenders will need is proof of income. If you have a new job, your employment contract should detail your pay. This is what you will have to submit as proof of income. For more information on documents you’ll have to submit, check out our blog post.
 
 

What information do I need to provide when applying for a mortgage?

Lenders want to get to know you

If you’re after a mortgage, lenders are going to want to see some information about you. Before your mortgage application is approved, lenders need to perform an affordability assessment. This is to make sure you’ll be able to manage mortgage repayments.  For them to conduct this assessment they need some vital information about any of the applicants.

So What Do I Need?

There are three main forms of documents you’ll need to provide. These are proof of identity, proof of address, and proof of income.

Applicants will also have to provide proof of any credit commitments. Depending on what type of buyer you are, you’ll also be asked for some purchase specific documents.

These documents are either physical copies such as passports or paper bills, or electronic copies such as bank statements. Physical copies can be scanned or photographed to be sent in. We recommend scanning physical copies as they produce better quality images. All documents must be legible and complete. Illegible documents are a major cause of delays to mortgage applications and something we want to help you avoid. Digital copies of documents can be downloaded and sent directly by email or web chat.

 Proof of Identity Documents

  • Photographic ID – You’ll need to submit at least two forms of photographic ID. These are usually a passport and a driver’s license.

Proof of Address Documents

  • Bank Statement – Lenders will require at least three months worth of bank statements for a mortgage application. These should show your income being credited.
  • Council Tax Statement – These are another form of proof of address. This should be addressed to your correct name and address.
  • Utility Bill – You’ll need to provide a utility bill from the last three months as proof of address. These include phone, electricity and gas bills.

Proof of Income Documents

The proof of income documents you’ll be required to provide will vary depending on how you’re employed. For most applicants, the proof of income they’ll need is super simple, but those who are self-employed needn’t worry.

  • Full-time employment – If you are in regular full-time employment you’ll only need two forms of proof of income. You will need your last three months payslips and your latest P60.
  • New Job – If you’ve recently started a job (less than a month) you’ll need a copy of your employment contract.
  • Maternity Leave – If you’re currently on maternity leave you’ll need a letter from your employer confirming your income when you return to work. Lenders will also want to see a payslip from before you left work.
  • Contractor – If you’re a contractor, you’ll need your employment contract showing your day rate.
  • Self Employed – If you’re a sole trader or in a partnership, you’ll need your tax year computations (SA302) and tax year overview for the last two years.
  • Limited Company Partner – If you’re self-employed in a limited company, you’ll need your tax year computations (SA302), tax year overview and company accounts for the last two years.

Secondary Income

If you receive any form of secondary income which you intend on using to pay your mortgage, you will be asked for proof. This includes monthly, quarterly or yearly bonuses. For bonuses, you’ll need the payslips which show the bonuses and your latest P60.

If you receive rental income you’ll need your tax year overviews and tax computations (SA302) for the last two years.

Credit Commitments

  • Credit Cards – If you have any credit cards, please confirm the lender and the current balance.
  • Personal Loans – If you have any personal loans, please confirm the lender, current balance and monthly payments.
  • Car Finance – If you have any car finance, please confirm the provider, the balance remaining, and the monthly payment.
  • Hire Purchase Agreements – If you have any hire purchase agreements please confirm any purchases on 0% that may become payments over the next two years.

Other Documents

  • Memorandum of Sale – If you’re buying a house or moving, lenders will want to see a memorandum of sale.
  • Mortgage Deposit Balance – If you’re a first-time buyer or moving home, lenders will need proof of your deposit in the form of a bank statement.
  • Mortgage Statement – If you’re looking to remortgage, you will have to present your latest mortgage statement.

 

mortgage fees

What fees do I pay on a mortgage?

Stamp Duty

The largest expense associated with buying a house, apart from the mortgage, is the stamp duty. This is a form of tax you pay when you purchase property or land. Stamp Duty has to be paid within 30 days of completion of the sale of your property. First-time buyers will receive Stamp Duty relief on all property sales completed after 23/11/17, paying no Stamp Duty on property up to £300,000. First-time buyers will also receive relief on property up to £500,000 paying 5% Stamp Duty on the portion of the property price between £300,000-£500,000.  

Your solicitor should handle Stamp Duty tax return and payment on your behalf on the day of completion. There’s plenty of info on stamp duty, including how much it is and when you pay it here.

Arrangement Fees

This is a fee you pay the lender for organising the mortgage product. Back in the days of stacks of paperwork, this used to reflect the administrative costs of the application. Now, it is now a major cost of the loan and competitively priced. Some lender’s arrangement fees are paid as a percentage of the loan instead of a flat rate, so choosing the right product for you is key to reducing costs.

Arrangement fees vary depending on factors such as the lenders and size of the mortgage. They typically start around £1,000 and go all the way up to around £2,000.

Legal Fees

These are the fees you pay your solicitor or conveyancer for legal work during the home buying process. Property purchases usually require professional legal help due to the complex and costly nature of the purchase. These fees are associated with paperwork and administrative costs. This includes property searches, dealing with the other party’s solicitor, and the exchange and completion of contracts.

A portion of the fees are paid upfront for services like property searches, with the rest paid upon completion of the sale.  The costs will be different depending on whether you use a conveyancer or solicitor. A conveyancer is a legal adviser specialising in property law, whilst solicitors specialise in all areas of law. Solicitors generally provide a more thorough service at a larger price. Fees also depend on the property tenure, price, and whether it is a remortgage or outright purchase. Average legal fees are around £1000-£1500.

Valuation Fees

Lenders will need to carry out an inspection of the property before approving your mortgage. This is to ensure it’s a sound investment to lend on and valued appropriately. Lenders will also charge an administrative fee for covering the costs of the processing the mortgage valuation.

Valuation fees are paid upfront when you submit the mortgage application. The valuation administration fee is often included or paid at the same time as the valuation fee. This will vary depending on the price and condition of the house. Typical valuation costs are around £400 but can exceed £1000 in some cases. If the sale falls through after the valuation, this fee is usually non-refundable.

Booking Fees

A booking fee is an upfront fee intended to cover the cost of ‘booking’ or ‘reserving’ your mortgage while it is in the process of being approved. The booking fee is paid upfront when you submit the mortgage application. Some lenders do not charge a booking fee, or incorporate it into the arrangement fee. The booking fee is typically £100, but can be as much as £250.

Telegraphic Transfer (CHAPS) Fee

This covers the cost of transferring money from the mortgage provider to the solicitor when purchasing the property. This is paid to the solicitor on completion of the purchase. The cost of the CHAPS fee is usually £25-£30.

Broker Fees

Most brokers charge a fee for their service, but here at Habito, we never charge a penny. Because we charge lenders, not customers, we are able to provide our service free of charge. Some lenders charge hundreds, even thousands of pounds for arranging your mortgage. You can read more about broker fees here. Our service is free, and always will be, because we want to help you find mortgage bliss without any extra expense.

mortgage guarantors

How do guarantor mortgages work?

What is a guarantor mortgage?

The name “guarantor mortgage” comes from the fact that a family member or friend guarantees the mortgage for you. When a mortgage is guaranteed it means that the guarantor becomes responsible for the mortgage payments in the event that the mortgage holder misses or cannot afford them.

What’s different about a guarantor mortgage?

Guarantor mortgages can allow you to take up to a 100% loan, meaning you don’t need a deposit. In these situations, lenders will require your guarantor to provide collateral to secure the mortgage. This in case you cannot make payments or the property loses value.

Other guarantor mortgages allow people to take out 100% loans, but have special requirements. One common requirement is that the borrowers’ parents deposit an agreed amount into an account run by the lender. This account is then frozen until a set portion of the mortgage is paid off, and the risk to the lender and borrower is reduced.

Often people take out guarantor mortgages because they are finding it difficult to save for a deposit. If you have a stable income, but are finding it hard to save a deposit, there are other options. The government has some advice on getting a mortgage with a small deposit here. There are other government schemes in place to help people get on the property ladder. These include help to buy equity loans and shared ownership schemes.

What makes an acceptable guarantor?

Mortgage guarantors do not own a share of the property they are guaranteeing. They are however financially responsible if repayments are missed. This means lenders will not accept everyone as a guarantor. They will need to have significant equity in their property and a stable income for lenders to accept them. This is most often the borrower’s parents, who have bought part or all of their home.

If a guarantor mortgage sounds like the right thing for you, then it’s time to get started with our Digital Mortgage Adviser. Within minutes you can have a mortgage illustration, showing you what you could expect to borrow. A quick chat with our friendly expert team should be able to answer any guarantor mortgage questions you might have. And there you have it, a quick Habito guide to guarantor mortgages.

Can you get a mortgage if you’re self-employed or freelance?

Who said you couldn’t have a mortgage?

Of course you can get a mortgage if you’re self-employed! If you have a steady income and a good credit history, you should be able to get a mortgage just like anyone else in full-time employment.

The UK is home to 4.6 million entrepreneurs, which equates to 15% of the nation’s workforce – a 26% rise in the last 10 years. This is a huge market for mortgage lenders to pass over, so fear not budding entrepreneur, we have you covered.

Just like with any mortgage, lenders have to assess the affordability of the loan they are offering. This means examining your income to see if you’ll be able to maintain repayments. Proof of income for self-employed people can be a little bit trickier than being employed by someone else, and we find it’s the area where we get the most questions.

Proof of income

If you’re self-employed, be it a sole trader, contractor or part of a limited company, we’ve got you covered. If you’ve been filing self-assessment tax returns, you should be able to prove your income just as easily as anyone else.

All you’ll need for proof of income are your tax calculations (SA302) and tax year overviews for the last two years. Some lenders may ask for these documents going back three years, but this will vary from lender to lender. If you’re part of your own limited company, you’ll also have to provide company accounts for the last two years.

If you’re like the 90% of people who submit their self-assessment tax return online, this should all be a doddle. Your tax year calculations and overviews are accessible through the HMRC website where you can download copies. These copies can then be attached to an email or sent as images directly to our expert team. For a full list of documents you’ll need to submit, and how to send them into Habito, read our dedicated blog post.

So, there you go, not as complicated as you thought!

 

How much deposit do you need to get a mortgage?

Lenders have minimum amounts you will need as a deposit to be approved for a mortgage. The bare minimum is usually 5% of the property value, although the minimum is 10% with some lenders. Lenders use the ratio of deposit to property value to assign interest rates. The greater the deposit you can put down, the smaller the interest rate on the loan.

This is what is referred to as the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. The lower this ratio is, the more money you have invested in your house as a deposit. As you continue to pay off your mortgage, assuming your property doesn’t lose value, this ratio will continue to go down. The more you pay off, the greater equity you will have in the property. This is the value of the property which you own outright.

Find out what you could borrow based on your savings

Our Habito Mortgage Illustration will give you a detailed breakdown of what your mortgage could look like. This includes your LTV ratio. We also have a deposit slider function which allows you to adjust your deposit to see the effect it has on interest rates. Lenders set interest rates based on LTV ratio brackets, such as 60 – 65%, 65 – 70%, 70 – 75% and so on. This means increasing your deposit by a small amount could lower your interest and save you some serious money.

In some cases, you may be required to put down a deposit greater than 10% to be approved for a certain mortgage product. High value mortgages, often £1 million plus, may have a maximum LTV ratio of 60 – 70%. This means you’ll need a 30-40% mortgage, which is a considerable amount of cash. Lenders do this because the greater the deposit you put down on the property, the more secure the mortgage is as an investment. As the value of the mortgage increases, the risk to the lender also increases, so they will need greater security.

Other costs to consider in addition to your deposit

The deposit you’ll need for a mortgage isn’t the only upfront cost associated with buying property. You will have to pay stamp duty and lender fees, which can either come out of your deposit, other savings, or be bundled into your mortgage. Stamp duty is a form of tax you pay when you buy property or land. You can read more about stamp duty here. Lenders will usually charge fees for arranging the loan and administrative costs, and these can range anywhere between £500 – £2,000.

What to do with your deposit

During your mortgage application journey, you will be asked for a bank statement as proof of your deposit. All applicants will have to submit bank statements from their personal current accounts. However, lenders will need proof that you actually have the deposit you intend on using for the purchase of your home.  We advise making sure the balance of this account is equal to the deposit you intend on using before you begin your mortgage application.

So what do I do with my deposit, you may be asking. Once you have a Habito Mortgage Illustration, the next step is to enter some basic information about your future plans into our clever robo-adviser. This, like all our services, is completely free and takes minutes. From here you can have an online live chat or phone call with one of our mortgage experts. They are a friendly team of industry leading mortgage advisers, and here to make sure you have the best possible mortgage experience.

 

Does my mortgage application change if I’m buying alone or with someone else?

The simple answer to this question is no. All applicants will undergo the same affordability assessment and document submission process.

Can joint applicants borrow more?

Before lenders agree to a mortgage, they perform an affordability assessment on all applicants. This involves examining your income and credit commitments. If you have a good credit score and a clear credit history you should be able to borrow, as a very rough guide, up to 4.5 times your income. This means how much you can borrow is dependant on your income. Therefore, a joint application combining two incomes should allow you to borrow more money.

Applying for a mortgage with someone else doesn’t make the application more complicated. Plus, the benefit is that you are usually able to borrow more. This is why so many people choose to apply for a mortgage with someone else, be it a partner or a friend. When it comes to document submission, the type of documents required are pretty much the same whether it’s a joint or single applicant. Each applicant will need to provide proof of address, identity and income, and proof of any credit commitments. If you’re making a joint application to buy a house, only one memorandum of sale will be needed. This is the same with deposit balances and mortgage statements when moving or getting a remortgage. A full list of documents required can be found in this post.

 

Submitting your documents for a joint application

One thing that is different when you’re applying with someone else is keeping track of documents. Picture this: you’re applying for a mortgage on your own. You know which folder you saved your bank statements in, you know where the scans of your passport are, your P60 form is in front of you. Then imagine doing this for two people with different documents in different forms. Stressful, we know.

Keeping track of all the documents you’ll need can be hard work. The mix of photos, scans and downloaded documents can cause some confusion. When making a joint application, we recommend storing all your documents and correspondence in one place. This might sound simple, but is a great tip. If one person is managing most of the application, and the other applicant has to unexpectedly complete the next step, knowing where all your documents are stored is a lifesaver. We would also advise trying to package all your documents on the computer, avoiding literal paperwork and making them easy to keep track of.

What’s next in my joint application?

The first step is seeing how much you can borrow. You can do this using our Digital Mortgage Adviser, which was designed around both single and joint applicants. Within minutes, you will have an illustration of a suitable mortgage product. This includes monthly payments, interest rates and deposit amounts. From here, you’re minutes away from a chat with one of our mortgage experts. They can answer any questions you might have about your application, and guide you through every step of the journey. Now that’s what we call helping you find the right mortgage headspace.

 

How much can I borrow for a mortgage?

This is the most popular question people have around mortgages. “How much can I borrow?”

When lenders are weighing up the amount someone can borrow on their mortgage, they need to assess your ability to keep up repayments. To do this, they need to understand your current financial situation. This is called an affordability assessment.  It takes into account your income, your outgoings, and any life events that may affect your ability to repay.

Income

Your annual income is the driving force behind your ability to keep up repayments. This is why lenders need proof of income before approving any mortgage. If you’re in full-time employment, they will need bank statements, payslips and P60 forms to assess your income. Lenders will also recognise any income from overtime, commissions or bonuses.


If you’re self-employed, fear not, lenders we work with can still assess your income and offer mortgages. If you complete a self-assessment tax return every year, lenders will need proof of income from HMRC. This is usually copies of your tax year calculations (SA302) and associated tax year overview for at least the last two years. We have plenty more information on mortgages for those who are self-employed right here.

Your loan to income ratio (LTI) is the ratio between your gross annual income and the loan value. If you have a good credit history and little or no debt, you should be able to borrow, as a rough guide, 4.5 times your gross annual income. For a more accurate idea of how much you can borrow, head over to our digital mortgage advisor. 

 

Outgoings

Lenders need to carefully assess your outgoings before approving any mortgages. Even if you have a large income compared to your loan, high monthly outgoings can affect your ability to keep up repayments.

Everyone has monthly outgoings, but high outgoings to income is a red flag to any lenders when assessing affordability. Outgoings include things as simple as monthly travel costs, food costs, utility bills and insurance.

Beyond these, lenders will want to know about any debt or credit commitments you might have. Debt could be, for example, a student loan or personal loan. Lenders will want to know if you are making any monthly credit card repayments, as well as any car finance payments.


Upcoming life events

Expected and unexpected events in the future can impact your ability to maintain mortgage repayments. This ranges from having a baby or a career change all the way to losing your job or becoming ill. Situations like having a baby can increase your monthly outgoings, but if you can prove you can manage these expenses, they should not be a problem.

Lenders will also perform regulatory affordability checks in the event of an increase in interest rates. This is required by the Bank of England to make sure current mortgage holders could manage with an interest rate hike.

Could vs. Should

It’s a good idea to ask yourself “How much should I borrow?” and compare it to the answer you get when you find out the answer to “How much could I borrow?”. We have created a nifty tool, the Habito Mortgage Illustration, to show you what your mortgage could look like. After entering a few simple details about yourself and your financial situation, you can see how much you could expect to borrow. This estimate will be conservative but will give you an accurate idea of how much you could borrow, and who from.

 

How do lenders decide whether someone should be given a mortgage?

How do they decide?

Lenders need to follow strict suitability guidelines when approving someone for a mortgage. To make sure they are lending responsibly, they have to carry out checks on all applicants. These are called affordability assessments. They take into account your income, debt, future plans and any past issues you may have had with credit. These checks are more aimed at lending responsible amounts of money, rather than saying yes or no to an application.

There are several fairly clear requirements for taking out a loan. You need stable income and savings to use for a deposit if you want to take out a loan. You will also need a solid credit history. Without these three things, you’ll struggle to find a mortgage provider who will approve you. 

Who are lenders?

Mortgage lenders can be split into two groups: banks and building societies. In the past, these two groups were fairly distinct. In the 1980s building societies were offered the chance to demutualise. This helped them to keep up competition with banks, giving them many of the same rights as the banks. There is no hard and fast rule about which offer better rates, it just depends on your circumstances. All lenders are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, and this regulation should create a level playing field between them.

What makes someone viable

There are some fairly consistent rules as to what qualifies someone for a mortgage. First things first you will need a solid and consistent income. Being unemployed will make it almost impossible to get a mortgage (sorry guys). Having a good credit history is also key to being approved for a mortgage. Issues such as CCJs, IVAs, bankruptcies and loan defaults will all affect your chance of a successful mortgage application. Further information on mortgage eligibility can be found here, courtesy of the Money Advice Service.  

Underwriting

This is the process where lenders analyse the risk of lending you money. This assesses the likelihood that you will default on the loan, and the outcome of the application hangs on it. All of the documents that lenders will want are analysed for any warning signs pointing towards high risk. Whilst this might all sound cold and unreceptive, lenders have good reason to be so careful. The financial disaster that was 2007-2012 was spurred on by subprime lending, which means lending to people who can’t afford it. Subprime lending on a mass scale caused financial institutions to topple, and this is a situation none of us wants to see again. This is why the FCA is so strict with lenders, ensuring they are lending money responsibly.

Still not clear?

If you’re still wondering about whether you will be eligible for a mortgage, head over to our Digital Mortgage Adviser. Within minutes you can have an idea of what you could expect to borrow, all for free and without any credit checks. Our Habito Mortgage Illustration will show a breakdown of a suitable mortgage product, including monthly repayments and which lender is offering the deal. If you want to find out more, the next step is a quick chat with one of our friendly mortgage experts. They can answer any questions you might have concerning mortgage eligibility. Our mortgage experts will guide you through your application from sign-up to completion.

This is all part of our mortgage promise. We want to find you the right mortgage, whilst saving you time and money. This allows you to focus on the things most important to you, and get one step closer to mortgage bliss.

Who issues a mortgage?

Who are the lenders?

Institutions that issue mortgages are split into two groups; banks and building societies. Banks and building societies were quite distinctly different before demutualisation in the 1980s. Demutualisation? Sounds complicated, but don’t worry, we’ll get round to that in a bit.  Banks and building societies offer similar services now including loans and savings accounts.

Building Societies

Building societies in Britain can trace their roots back to the late 18th century. They are mutual organisations, which means the investors are members, and have voting rights. The people borrowing or saving money can decide on the future of the organisation, and the society works in their interest.

Building societies were exceedingly popular during the 19th and 20th century in Britain, and one existed in almost every town. These small, local, mutual societies existed to help people buy land and property. As building societies gained popularity, and capital, they began to merge together. This strengthened the societies, who offered low-interest rates on loans and gathered customers.

When the chance to demutualise came in 1986, many of these large building societies took it. This allowed building societies to compete with banks, offering new products and services. This included personal loans, cheque accounts, currency exchange and insurance advice.

Building societies also had the opportunity to become limited companies, just like a bank. One such example was building society Abbey National, which became Abbey Bank. Abbey Bank were later bought by Spanish bank Banco Santander, and rebranded into Santander.

The major building society you may have heard of is Nationwide, the largest building society in Britain. Nationwide are currently the second largest lender of mortgages in Britain after Lloyds Bank.

Modern building societies are very similar to banks in terms of mortgage lending, and we search both to find the right mortgages for you.

Banks

Banks are publicly traded organisations which work in the interest of their shareholders. These shareholders have voting rights over the bank’s decisions, as opposed to the members of a building society. Banks have gained popularity as mortgage lenders since the 1980s, with Lloyd’s Bank now the largest lender in the UK.

If you’re looking for a mortgage there’s a strong chance you have accounts with at least one bank. Banks have always offered services to borrow and save money with them, and this extends to mortgages.

So Which One?

There’s only one way to find out, see which one you are right for. Every mortgage applicant is different, and the market reflects this. We scan over 11,000 products provided by over 70 lenders (full list of lenders here) to find the right mortgage for you. There’s no hard and fast rule about which is better to take out a mortgage with.

Our handy mortgage illustration will always show you which lender is providing the deal you are looking at. If you have preferences towards lenders, our experts will try and accommodate them when they scan the market.

We recommend heading over to the Digital Mortgage Adviser and getting a mortgage illustration to see which lender could be the one. From there, you’re only a few minutes away from a chat with one of our mortgage experts. They can advise you on your mortgage options, and are with you from sign-up to completion.

What is a mortgage?

You are correct in thinking mortgages aren’t the most exciting thing in the world. And that’s okay, because we’re here to do the thinking for you. By moving the process online, and charging lenders not customers, Habito can save you time and money. From first time buyers, to the most experienced of remortgagers, we can help you. So what exactly is a mortgage, and who needs one?

A mortgage is a type of loan used to buy property, agreed between a borrower and a lender. Borrowers are people just like you looking to own their property. Lenders are banks or building societies, that agree to lend you the money on a set of principles. These are paying it back, with interest, over an agreed period of time.

Mortgages can seem complicated because of the huge range of lenders, borrowers and mortgage products. Do not be afraid! We are here to explain these differences and guide you through your application.

What are mortgages?

A mortgage is a contract between the lender and borrower that sets out several clear agreements. The first is that the loan is only intended for purchasing property. Mortgages are referred to as ‘secured loans’ because the lender secures their loan against the value of the property. This means mortgages can never be for a greater sum than the value of the property they are being used to buy.

When you take out a standard repayment mortgage you agree to pay back the capital and the interest. The capital is the sum of money you actually borrowed to buy the property. The interest is a percentage of the remaining capital left that you pay for borrowing the money.  When you take out a mortgage, you and the lender agree on the term of the mortgage, which is how long you’ll take to pay it back. In the past, a typical mortgage term was considered to be 25-30 years. Lenders currently have products with varying term lengths available as long as you have a viable repayment strategy.

How much can I borrow?

The maximum you can borrow is usually around 90% of the property value, meaning you will need a deposit of 10% to purchase the property. This ratio between the loan size and the deposit size is called the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio.

If you were purchasing a £200,000 house, an £180,000 loan and a £20,000 deposit would equal a 90% loan to value ratio. This is because the loan is equal to 90% of the value of the house. Lenders use LTV brackets such as 60-65%, 65-70% and so on to adjust interest rates on loans. This means the more deposit you can put into your property, the lower the interest rate will be.

Our handy Habito Mortgage Illustration will show you your current LTV ratio and interest rate. It lets you adjust your deposit amount and see the effect it has on your offered interest rate. Increasing your deposit by a small amount can lower your LTV bracket, getting you better interest rates. This is something we encourage you to check out and see if you can save some extra pounds.

Who are mortgage borrowers?

The short answer is people just like you and me. There are a few distinct categories of mortgage borrowers which we’ll address here.

For those looking to get on the property ladder, taking out your first mortgage is a major life event. Purchasing your own property for the first time is a proud moment, and can throw up a lot of questions. We’re here from the first moment on our chatbot, all the way through to completion, to answer any of these questions. You can find out more about the first time buyer experience with Habito here.

Habito can help you if you already have a home, whether you’re planning on moving or just looking for a remortgage. We advise home-movers looking to remortgage, and have an area of our blog dedicated to those wanting to find out more before they move home.

For homeowners approaching or already on their lender’s standard variable rate, we can help save you a fortune. We have a whole section of our blog dedicated to remortgages for your reading. From when to start looking at a remortgage, to what happens when you leave your existing provider, we have a wealth of information located there.

If you’re thinking about becoming a landlord, Habito also offer advice on buy to let mortgages. These mortgages are for those looking to buy rental property. Different rules apply to these mortgages compared to residential, and there is an area of our blog dedicated to explaining buy to let

Who are mortgage lenders?

You may be asking yourself, Who issues a mortgage?”. Institutions that lend mortgages are either banks or building societies. If you’re looking for a mortgage, chances are you’ve had dealings with banks before. Banks are public institutions that work in the interest of shareholders and themselves to be profitable. Building societies have a long history in the UK, dating back to the late 18th century. They are mutual organisations that work in the interest of members, who are typically investors. Becoming a member of a building society gives voting rights for decisions within the organisation, unlike with a bank.

The ‘demutualisation’ of building societies in the 1980s allowed them to offer banking services. Since then, building societies have changed considerably in Britain, but still lend mortgages.

We don’t have a dog in the fight when it comes to building society vs bank. The mortgage to go with is the one that is right for your personal situation. No two people are the same, and this is reflected in the range of mortgage products available. We have access to over 20,000 products from over 70 lenders. We have a list of our available lenders for further information on who we work with.

What do I do now?

If you’re still after more information, check out some of our other blog posts, neatly organised by buyer type. We encourage people to read up and educate themselves before starting the mortgage journey. We want you to feel informed and in control, and help you become one step closer to mortgage bliss.

 

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