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Our guide to securing a mortgage as a doctor

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Mortgages for doctors - a comprehensive guide

If you’re a doctor in the UK and thinking of getting a mortgage, there are several considerations specific to the profession that are worth taking into account.

While medicine is an undoubtedly stable profession, you may be surprised to learn that many doctors find securing a mortgage challenging.

This is due to the unique circumstances of being a doctor. For example, long training periods, high levels of student debt, complex pay arrangements (in the case of locums & GPs), high mobility, etc.

However, with the right preparation the vast majority of doctors will be able to secure the mortgage they're looking for.

If you're reading this guide you probably already have an idea about the type of mortgage you’d like to apply for. This guide will give you a step-by-step introduction to help you prepare for your application, and maximise your chances of being approved.

Why it can be challenging to secure a mortgage as a doctor

While everyone's individual circumstances are different, there are some common issues that make applying for a mortgage challenging for many doctors.

Long training periods and high levels of student debt

As you'll know all too well, the training period for doctors is lengthy and continuous. The result is that doctors enter the workforce into paid positions comparatively later than many of their peers.

In addition, the nature of the training process is such that many doctors are entering the profession with higher levels of student debt. While doctors’ incomes are relatively high, both of these factors can weigh against a potential mortgage application. This can make securing a mortgage more challenging when compared with other professions.

Short-term contracts and high levels of mobility

When doctors do enter the workforce, the nature of being a junior doctor can also act against them in mortgage eligibility. Lenders are looking to assess a range of factors that they perceive as indicating stability and creditworthiness.

Many junior doctors are working on short-term contracts, and may be on rotation or changing addresses regularly. Lenders often view these factors as indications of instability. Typically, lenders are looking for a long history at a particular address and lengthy employment contracts when approving a lending decision; another set of factors which, unfortunately, can weigh against doctors in an application.

Complex earnings and compensation

The nature of doctors' earnings aren't that simple either. While this of course will vary, many doctors have arrangements that are far more complex than a simple payslip.

This is particularly relevant for those working as locums (particularly for example if you've operated as a limited company or sole trader in the past). GPs also can have complex income structures, as well as doctors who also have a private practice.

Likewise, if you've spent time working abroad, proving and documenting your income in a way that lenders are looking for can also be challenging.

Specialist broker or high street lender - what’s best for doctors?

Most people choose to go with a high street lender when they apply for a mortgage. However, because of the circumstances above, and the fact that earnings are not straightforward, it may be worth considering going with a specialist broker. Specialist brokers have in-depth knowledge about what you should consider when it comes to getting a mortgage as a doctor.

A specialist broker will likely be able to take into account your unique individual circumstances in greater detail than traditional high street lenders would. Specialist brokers may also work with specific lenders who, taking into account those circumstances, could offer additional options not otherwise available.

By working with someone who is familiar with the nuances and details of the profession, many medical professionals feel more comfortable and it's possible that you have more options compared with high street banks.

Time savings working with a specialist broker

Undoubtedly, you're busy. Many doctors therefore prefer to outsource the stress of handling a mortgage application to someone who specialises in lending and borrowing.

Of course, you can handle this process on your own (although you won't have access to specialist lenders that a broker will). However, often it's better to defer to a professional. Our team at Mortgages for Doctors wouldn't preform our own surgical procedures for much the same reason...

Additional costs when compared with a high street lender

If you do choose to go with a specialist broker who is working primarily with doctors it's worth noting that you'll pay a fee for their time. You may pay a higher interest rate when compared with a high street lender.

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What if you need more flexible terms?

Many doctors are looking for flexible terms on a mortgage. This could be due to a short-term contract and a desire to move in the near term. Or it could be that you're looking for a base in the UK if you're looking to move abroad.

Often, doctors are interested in acquiring an owner-occupier mortgage initially. However, they may want to transition to a buy-to-let arrangement in the longer term and then retain an investment property.

Doctors should consider whether it would be valuable to buy-to-let, consent to let or even let-to-buy.

If you're thinking about any of the above, it may be worth speaking to a specialist broker who can take these circumstances into account. Ideally, they'll be able to help you work with lenders who will understand and be able to accommodate the flexible terms you're looking for.

Important considerations - your credit score and history of credit

Many high earning professionals assume that because they have a high income, they will have a good credit score. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case.

Regardless of which route you take; high street lender or specialist broker, your credit score will be an important factor in your mortgage application.

Your credit score is determined by a variety of factors, and in fact, you will likely have multiple credit scores with different agencies. In the UK there are several credit reference agencies; these are organisations that determine your creditworthiness such as Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.

Don't know your credit score? Use these tools to find out

Each of the big three credit reference agencies has free tools to help you find your credit score.

Clear Score, Experian and Credit Karma are free online tools to help you find out your score.

Simply answer some simple questions and you'll be able to view your score.

What factors determine your credit score as a doctor?

There are a variety of factors that affect your credit score (and many are easy to change):

  • Are you on the electoral roll at your current address?
  • Your previous address history
  • How you use credit (lenders are looking for responsible use of credit cards, loans and the like)
  • Joint credit history (if you have joint accounts with your spouse/partner)
  • Any county court judgements, insolvencies or bankruptcies
  • Your immigration status and time resident in the country
  • Any inaccuracies

The best first step is to go through our checklist and see where you stand. From there you can improve and change your score.

If you're concerned about your credit score, specialist brokers will be able to guide you through the application process.

Thinking of applying for a mortgage? Go through this checklist first

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