How Much Can I Borrow For A Mortgage?
The two most common questions we are asked on a daily basis are, “Can I get a mortgage in my situation?” and “How much can I borrow?”. In this article, we explain the latter which has changed quite a lot in the past decade.
How Much Can I Borrow?
Back in the ’80s and ’90s, most mortgage applications were manually underwritten. That is to say, there was lots of “human intervention” in the process of approving mortgage applications. You’d make an appointment with your local Building Society Manager, and he or she would interview you.
They would encourage you to save with them for a while until you prove yourself credit-worthy. The manager would then grant you the equivalent of an Agreement in Principle. This would then be followed by advice on how much they were prepared to lend.
This sounds very much like a highly personalised process with a common-sense approach. That being said, it could lead to inconsistent decision-making. The manager has the discretion to interpret the lending manual. In other words, I suppose it would be possible to approach the same Building Society in a different town or city. You could possibly obtain a different outcome.
With a view to eradicating the above and more importantly, cut costs, Lenders moved to automated affordability calculations. “Caps” were applied so they would lend you more than, say, 3 or 4 times your household income.
As the 2000s progressed, Lenders were becoming more and more generous in how much they would lend. Some Lenders would offer self-certified mortgages. This was where no background checks would be carried out as regards how much an applicant actually was earning!
The market crashed and to all intents and purposes, 2008-2010 were very difficult years if you were trying to get on the property ladder. The Lenders battened down the hatches and created a very cautious (over-corrected) lending environment.
The market recovered and in 2014 the regulator launched the Mortgage Market Review (MMR). This was a new set of guidelines for Lenders to adhere to. Gone were the old-style income multipliers which took little account of household expenditure. Before 2014, two applicants earning the same could borrow roughly the same as each other.
This was irrespective of how much they spent each month. Then came new affordability models. These took a much more forensic view of how mortgage applicants managed their money on a monthly basis.
There is still a “cap” in place. Most Lenders will not go past 4.75 times your annual income. But they also analyse your spending habits. For example, if you have high childcare costs, lots of credit commitments and a student loan, they will offer you less than your work-colleague who doesn’t have any of that expenditure.
We are constantly surprised by the large variances lender to lender in how much (or little) they will lend. Some Lenders seem to penalise low-earners (perhaps they are not looking for that type of applicant), some take pension contributions as a fixed outgoing so would often lend, say a public sector worker with a big pension deduction less than a private sector and so on.
It really is horses for courses and if you need to maximise your borrowing capability to obtain the home you need to buy then you’ll definitely need a local Mortgage Broker on your side who can research the market on your behalf to see if anyone will lend you the amount you need.
If you’re wondering “How Much Can I borrow?” and looking to take out a mortgage, you should sit down with an Advisor and work out your finances together to ensure that the repayments feel comfortable to you.
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