In this brief guide, we are going to discuss what a mortgage credit check means and how to prepare for one.

What does a mortgage credit check mean?

A mortgage credit check is something which every mortgage lender in the United Kingdom does in order to ensure you are creditworthy and are likely to repay your mortgage.

When a mortgage lender performs a mortgage credit check they are looking to see a few things:

You name matches the name on your credit report

Your age matches the age on your credit report

You are on the electoral roll at your current address

You have not had too many addresses

You don’t have any financial links which may raise flags

You don’t have too much debt

Yo do not have much more debt than you have informed the lender on your mortgage fact find

You have not taken out any payday loans recently

You have a credit history which goes back a few years

You have a good credit score

You do not have another mortgage on your credit report which you have not disclosed on your mortgage fact find.

You do not have a county court judgement

You do not have any defaults

You do not have a bankruptcy notice

To check your credit utilization

To see who has been searching for you

During the mortgage application process, you will have two mortgage credit checks.

A soft mortgage credit check

A hard mortgage credit check

A soft mortgage credit check 

This is performed when you apply for a mortgage or agreement in principle for an agreement in principle. A soft mortgage credit check will not leave any public footprints on your credit file and so does not damage your score. 

This means if the mortgage lender is now not able to offer you a mortgage you can simply go ahead and make another mortgage agreement in principle.

A soft mortgage credit check only pulls very little data from your credit score in order for the lender to let you know if they may be willing to lend to you by providing you with an agreement in principle.

A soft mortgage credit check is usually an automated check done by a computer.

A  hard mortgage credit check 

This is performed when you make an application for a mortgage offer. This is a full credit check and the mortgage lender will be able to see every data point on your credit score. They will look at every detail on your credit file to ensure you are creditworthy.

A hard mortgage credit check will leave footprints on your credit file and this means it may damage your score if you are not accepted for the mortgage.

A hard mortgage credit check is usually done by a computer but the data is then available for the mortgage underwriter to evaluate.

How to prepare for a mortgage credit check?

To prepare for a mortgage credit check the first thing you should do is check your credit score and history.

If you are unsure of what your credit score is then you should check your credit score from the four credit bureaus in the UK: Experian, Crediva, Equifax and Transunion.

Some of these credit bureaus may charge you a fee to view your credit report so what you can alternatively do is request a statutory credit report which is a free credit report which each credit bureau must provide to you upon you requesting it.

Alternatively, you can also use credit score services such as Checkmyfile and clearscore to check your credit report.

Once you have your credit report you will then want to go to a mortgage broker who may be able to let you know if you will be eligible for a mortgage or if your credit score and history are too low. 

If your credit score and history is low then you can try building your credit by doing the below.

Get a credit builder card

Get a credit builder loan( e.g loqbox)

Avoid making too many credit applications

Avoid getting rejected for any credit application

Do not miss any credit repayments

Do not default on any credit obligations

Get a credit account such as a credit card and ensure you make your credit repayments on time

Keep your credit utilization below 30%

Get on the electoral roll at your current address

Do not get a payday loan

What credit score do you need for a mortgage?

According to Experian the below credit scores should result in the following outcomes.

Excellent credit score

961-999

You could be in line for the best mortgage deals with lower interest rates

Good credit score

881 – 960

You could get most but not all the best mortgage deals

Fair credit score 

721 – 880

You could get good mortgage deals with reasonable interest rates

Poor credit score 

561-720

You may get mortgage deals, but with higher interest rates

Very Poor credit score

0-560

You may be declined a mortgage or find it harder to get one without very high-interest rates

The scores above are based on the Experian credit score range of 0 to 999 in the UK.

Do mortgage lenders check credit before completion?

Not all mortgage lenders will credit check you before completion and it is hard to know who will and who won’t but your mortgage broker may have some experience of this after dealing with several mortgage lenders.

If a mortgage lender does perform a last-minute credit check on you it will be to ensure your circumstances haven’t changed since the mortgage offer as this might make you ineligible for the mortgage.

Multiple credit checks from the same mortgage lender will typically not affect your credit score.

If you are worried that you have had a change in circumstances since you got your mortgage and this could potentially cause the mortgage lender to decline you then you should speak with your mortgage broker who will have different options on how to handle the situation.

What could a credit check before completion reveal?

A mortgage credit check before completion could reveal the below:

New credit being obtained since your mortgage offer

A fall in your credit score

New negative marks added to your credit file such as CCJs, bankruptcy, IVAs, a debt management plan or a default.

A change in employment will also normally not appear on your credit file.

A final mortgage credit check before completion is more likely when you have an off-plan property (one which is built after a mortgage offer is gotten for it) or when your mortgage offer expires before you complete.

The two cases have to do with the time between when the mortgage lender gives you a mortgage offer and when you complete on the house purchase.

In general, you should avoid taking on new credit when making a mortgage application and avoid any applications that may search for your credit file.

You should also avoid using your credit cards or overdraft facilities if possible before completing your home purchase.

In this brief guide, we discussed the mortgage credit check.

If you have any further questions, please let us know.

If you need financial advice and you live in the UK then you could contact the Money Advice service over the phone or via chat for impartial advice.

You can also contact the debt charity “Step Change” if you are in debt and need help.


John Bate

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.