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1. Speak to a good independent mortgage broker – get an idea of what is available and what you can afford, then get all of your financial documents in place. Said documents include pay slips, bank statements and contracts of employment – the vital pieces of paper that are only ever found by rummaging around in cardboard boxes at 11pm at night.


2. Mortgage agreed in principle – “I strongly recommend buyers – in particular first timers – get their mortgage agreed in principle before starting looking,” says John Phillips, director of financial services at Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward. “Having this in place will mean that you know for certain how much money you can borrow to and you can get the process of purchasing moving quickly. With such a competitive marketplace for first time buyers, doing your homework, having your documents in place and being able to agree your mortgage quickly will give you the best chance possible against the competition.”


3. Perform a credit record MOT – “Check and clean up your credit record. Also, if you’re not registered on the electoral roll that can seriously hamper your chances of getting a home loan.


4. Talk to your parents – known for the purposes of this article as the bank of Mum and Dad. We don’t need to tell you how insanely difficult it is to save for a deposit and if your parents can’t help with cold hard cash they may be able to help by becoming addional borrowers on the mortgage (temporarly).


5. Get a credit card – having no credit history makes lenders twitchy – best to use a credit card and repay in full each month so you can prove you can manage credit responsibility.


6. Don’t go over your overdraft limit for your current account for at least three months if possible – show you’re in control of your finances, which means no bounced cheques.


7. Get your paperwork in order –  If you’re self-employed, be prepared to be treated as a second-class citizen by the banks, who haven’t yet caught on to the notion of freelance employment as being a viable model. It’s likely you’ll need to provide more paperwork and answer even more questions. As a rule of thumb, you’ll need to show that you’ve been gainfully self-employed for two to three years before a bank will even consider you – a good mortgage broker who knows the best pro-self employed banks to approach will be worth their weight in gold.


8. Don’t get trigger happy and keep applying for mortgages – If you do over a short space of time, these applications can impact your all-important credit rating.

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