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Agreement in Principle and Soft Credit Searches

Credit Searches | Mortgage Broker in Harrogate

In contemporary settings, the general public is now paying more attention to their credit rating than ever before. Consumer awareness of credit scoring appears to be higher than ever before and the majority of people who get in touch with our team appear to have already reviewed their credit report online. There are multiple credit reference agencies out there. The most common are companies such as Experian or Equifax but we recommend new clients towards Check My File for a 30-day free trial, following this it comes to £14.99 a month but can be cancelled any time. This report offers our clients a collation of information produced in an understandable colour-coded report.

Clients usually ask if our Mortgage Advisors will be doing a credit search on them because they are aware that too many searches can have a downward effect on their credit score. Lenders always run credit checks but we make sure our Mortgage Advisors seek out a client’s permission before doing these.

Credit searches from banks come in two forms; hard searches and soft ones.

What is a Hard credit search?

A hard credit search is one of which where it will offer a more in-depth look into your credit report if any financial institution is carrying out these checks then they should prioritise seeking your permission to do this before anything else. The benefit of a ‘hard’ search is that because the lender is looking into your situation closely, if you pass the credit score than your chances of your application being successful will improve drastically. The only thing at that stage that can go wrong is if, for any reason, you cannot provide evidentiary support of satisfactory documentation to back up the information in which you have disclosed or it turns out that you have provided false details.

The flipside of the benefits is that the hard search leaves a ‘footprint’ on your credit file so that anyone who takes a look at your report can see that it has been carried out. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but if for example you have multiple searches included in your credit file in a short period of time then it could be perceived as you are applying for a vast amount of credit at the same time. The search will not state as to whether your application was successful or not but Lenders will sometimes wrongfully assume that you are being declined with the mind frame of “Why else would you go to Lender number 2 unless Lender number 1 had said no?”.

The odd hard footprint on your record is no big deal so this doesn’t give reason to worry too much about it; just take precaution in having too many.

What is a Soft credit search?

The other form – a soft credit search – is a ‘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, or it could be used to verify your identity. Some Mortgage Lenders carry out soft searches and nowadays, even more Lenders seem to be changing to this type of search. Whilst less information is offered to who is carrying out a soft search on you as opposed to what they would receive if it was a Hard search, if you obtain an Agreement in Principle from one of these Lenders, it’s usually still an extremely strong indication that your full application will be accepted.

One of the most beneficial things about soft searches is that whilst 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. This means you can apply for an Agreement in Principle for a mortgage without it damaging your credit score irrespective of whether it is successful or not.

If you are thinking of making an offer on a property, our Mortgage Advisors would recommend having a mortgage agreement in principle in place prior to contacting the Estate Agent. 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 present yourselves as having your finances in a good place then you are definitely giving yourself the upper hand in the situation. Being in possession of an Agreement in Principle could also mean that the Agent is put off trying to ‘cross-sell’ their own in-house mortgage services to you.

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