Consumer awareness of credit scoring appears to be higher than ever before, and a large majority of people who get in touch with our team appear to have already reviewed their credit reports online.
There are lots of different credit reference agencies to choose from, with the two most commonly heard of companies being either Experian or Equifax. We personally would recommend that new clients use Check My File for a 30-day free trial. If you do not cancel, this will change to £14.99 a month, though you can cancel this at any point in time. This report offers our clients a collaborative look at the information produced in an easy to understand the color-coded credit report.
Often our customers will ask if our Mortgage Advisors in Birmingham will be doing a credit search of their own, because they are aware that too many searches can cause problems for their credit score. The lender always runs credit checks, but our Mortgage Advisors in Birmingham will ask the client for their permission beforehand.
A hard credit search will provide a much more in-depth look at your credit report. Any financial institution that looks to carry one of these out should seek your permission before doing so. The advantage of a “hard” search would be that you have a much higher chance of succeeding with your mortgage if you pass the credit search, as they will have already gone quite deep into your details.
The only thing that can go wrong from then on is if, for some reason, you cannot provide satisfactory documentation to back up the information you have disclosed, or it turns out you have provided false details.
Another benefit to the hard search is that it leaves a ‘footprint’ on your credit file, meaning that anyone who looks at your report can see that it you’ve already been under the microscope so to speak. This isn’t inherently a bad thing but if for example, you have multiple searches included in your credit file in a short period, then it could be perceived as you are applying for lots of credit at once, which the lender may feel is suspicious activity.
The footprint does not state whether your application was successful or not but if you have several searches over a few weeks then lenders’ systems could wrongly assume you are being declined on the basis that “Why else would you go to Lender number two unless Lender number one had said no?”.
The odd hard footprint on your record is no big deal so this doesn’t give reason to worry a whole lot about it. The main lesson to take away here, is take precaution in having too many hard searches, as this could negatively affect your process.
On the other side of the coin, we have a soft credit search. This is a much ‘lighter’ search which looks at your financial situation and would be the type of search that would be carried out on price comparison websites to let you know what may be available to you. It may also be used from time to time, in order to verify your identity. Many mortgage lenders carry out soft searches, and we’re always seeing more lenders switching to this type of search.
While less information is offered to who is carrying out a soft search, as opposed to what they would receive if it were a hard search, you can still get a good idea as to whether or not you’ll find mortgage success by obtaining an Agreement in Principle. If you get this, you’re theoretically in with a good shot anyway.
One of the most beneficial things about soft searches is that while you will be able to see soft searches that have been carried out on you, if you check your credit file (people are usually surprised by how many have been carried out on them) these searches are not visible to other financial institutions like banks, building societies or other mortgage lenders. This means you can freely apply for an Agreement in Principle and it is unlikely to damage your credit score, whether it is successful or not.
If you are in the market for making an offer on a property as a First-Time Buyer in Birmingham or are maybe Moving Home in Birmingham, our trusted Mortgage Advisors in Birmingham would highly recommend that you have a Mortgage Agreement in Principle in place before getting in touch with the seller.
You want to be able to give yourself the best possible chance of securing the property you want at the lowest possible price, so if you can demonstrate that you have your finances in a good place, you are effectively giving yourself the upper hand. Having an Agreement in Principle could also mean that any estate agent may be put off trying to ‘cross-sell’ their other in-house mortgage services to you.