During the coronavirus lockdown many of us took the chance to think about what we wanted from our life. Where we work, what we do in our spare time, how much time we spend with our families; we revaluated all of them.

We also considered where we wanted to live. Many of us found we no longer needed to live close to work, as homeworking became more viable, or decided that now was the time to grab the dream of finally moving to the countryside or the coast.

With furlough ending and the UK gradually returning to normal, plus many permanently able to work from home, moving to a new house is top of a lot of people’s list of ‘things to do after lockdown’. But if you have a history of poor credit, things may not be so simple. Bad credit mortgages are harder to find than other mortgages, and aren’t available from high street lenders, so what can you do to improve your chances?

First things first. Lockdown and furlough has had a financial impact on practically everyone. However, that impact has not been consistent across the population. While many people have struggled financially due to lack or work, pay cuts or inconsistent hours, others have found that a drop in outgoings such as commuting costs has meant that they have actually saved money since the first lockdown started in March 2020. The fact that a third of people checked their credit score over lockdown, with 4 million of them checking it for the first time, may be an indication that some have taken the opportunity of having more time to sort out their finances.

If you’ve taken a fresh look at your finances then maybe you’ve decided that the time is right to move, particularly if you are one of the lucky people who has seen an increase in their household savings. However, even if you’ve got your finances back on track if you have a history of poor credit you may still find it difficult to find a mortgage deal. There are some things you can do to make this easier though.

Why is getting a mortgage difficult if you have a poor credit history?

Mortgage lenders want to be sure that you are going to pay back the money you have borrowed. They will look at how much you earn and how much you spend to get a sense of whether you will have enough money left each month to meet your mortgage repayments.

They will also look at how you have managed debt in the past by looking at your credit history. Missing loan or mortgage payments, CCJs or bankruptcy are all events that will concern lenders, as they indicate that you may not be very good at controlling your spending, and are marked on your credit file. As some items stay on your file for up to 6 years, even if you have been financially stable for some time you may still struggle to find a mortgage.

Build a deposit

The less money you are asking to borrow from a mortgage lender, the easier you are likely to find it to get a mortgage deal. This is why increasing the deposit you are able to offer will improve your chances, even if you do have a history of bad credit. If you are moving house and have some equity in your current property adding to this with savings will also improve your chances of finding a deal.

You may have heard about a possible increase in 95% mortgages, which require a smaller deposit, but these are very rarely available to applicants with a history of bad credit.

Check your credit file

If you’re one of the millions of UK citizens who has recently accessed your credit file, take the time to check that all the details are correct. If there are mistakes on your file, they could give lenders the wrong impression about how well you have managed credit in the past. Check the process for removing mistakes from your credit file with whichever organisation you requested it from.

You should also ensure that you remove any financial associations that are no longer current. Financial associations are link to an individual that you have had a previous financial relationship with, usually a joint loan or mortgage. If you are no longer in a financial relationship with someone named on your credit file, you can ask for a notice of disassociation, which tells lenders that the relationship has ended.

Register to vote

Appearing on the electoral register is a trust signal for lenders and failing to register to vote can have a negative impact on your credit score. If you haven’t done it already, make sure you are registered.

Avoid ‘payday’ loans

Short term, or so-called payday loans, are a particular red flag to lenders. They see them as a sign that you aren’t able to control your outgoings. If you do find that you need a shirt-term injection of cash, it’s better to approach your bank for an extension of your overdraft or even to use a credit card – as long as you won’t fall behind with your credit card payments.

Get your accounts in order

If you’re self-employed take some time to ensure that your accounts are up to date. Showing lenders your current income is important, particularly if your business has improved over the last year, in order for them to correctly assess your ability to meet the repayments on your mortgage.

You should also be aware that you can’t use money from a Bounce Back Loan to put toward a deposit.

Speak to a professional

While it may seem cheaper to look for a mortgage yourself, talking to a specialist bad credit mortgage broker can pay dividends, particularly if you have a history of bad credit.

In addition to ensuring that your application is completed correctly, and you have all the right documents, mortgage brokers have long-term relationships with lenders. As a consequence of this, they understand what criteria different lenders have, and how likely they are to look at your application sympathetically. This will both save you time and increase your chances of success.

If you’ve decided to mark the return to normality by buying a property, you don’t need to let a poor credit score stand in your way. Just follow our suggestions and you could be well on the way to realising your dream.