Four in five prospective first time buyers have been rejected for a mortgage

POSTED: 30th April 2021
IN: Newsroom
  • Only one five (19%) were able to get a mortgage on the first attempt, representing a huge change from nearly half (48%) that were able to pre-Covid-19
  • Two fifths (38%) were rejected for a mortgage once, whereas 43% say they were rejected for a mortgage more than once
  • This shows a significant shift from pre-Covid-19 when a third (36%) reported being rejected once and only 17% said they had been rejected more than once
  • The most common reasons for rejection are poor credit history (41%) and not having a large enough deposit (39%)
  • Over a quarter (28%) of prospective first time buyers are worried about their credit history and a third (39%) are currently actively looking to improve their score

Aldermore bank’s First Time Buyer Index1, a survey of 1,000 prospective first time buyers, reveals many are struggling to secure a mortgage as challenges around credit and deposit size bite in the Covid-19 environment. 

Large Covid-19 effect on mortgage applications

Prospective first time buyers have experienced a significant increase in mortgage rejection year-on-year. Only one in five (19%) looking to buy their first home were able to get a mortgage on the first attempt, contrasting strongly with almost half (48%) that were able to do so in the First Time Buyer Index findings from March 20202, just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

Two fifths (38%) of prospective first time buyers say they were rejected for a mortgage once (36% in March 2020), and a greater amount (43%) say they were rejected for a mortgage more than once, a large spike from just 17% in March 2020.

Mortgage rejections

March 2021

March 2020

I got a mortgage on the first attempt



I was rejected once for a mortgage



I was rejected more than once for a mortgage



Credit history and deposit size main reasons for rejection

The research shows that many prospective first time buyers are now more likely to be rejected for multiple reasons, rather than just one. The main reason for a rejected mortgage application was that the prospective first time buyer has poor credit history (41%), up from 19% in March 2020. Other top reasons for prospective first time buyers being turned down for a loan include deposit size (39%), not being on the electoral roll (39%), administrative error (35%), and being self-employed or a contract worker (33%). 

Reason for mortgage application getting rejected

March 2021

March 2020

Poor credit history



I didn’t have a large enough deposit



Me/my partner was not on the electoral roll



The lender made an administrative error



I was self-employed, have irregular income or a contract worker



I haven’t always lived in the UK



I’d taken out a payday loan



I’d made too many credit applications

27 %


I had a large amount of debt

26 %


Me/ my partner were not earning enough



Overcoming challenges to secure a mortgage deal

Over a quarter (28%) of prospective first time buyers say credit history is a big concern, with two in five (39%) looking to actively improve their credit score to increase their chances of securing a mortgage. One in five (19%) now worry that their credit rating has gotten worse since the Covid-19 outbreak.

The main credit-related barriers affecting first time buyers applying for a mortgage are having an overdraft (34%), a gap in employment (31%), student loans (26%) and credit card debt (23%). There is also a noteworthy proportion that have more significant credit issues with nearly a quarter (23%) having an account handled by collection agencies, one in nine (14%) having taken out a payday loan, 12% having a County Court Judgement (CCJs) and 9% having a bankruptcy in their past.

Credit issue

March 2021

March 2020

Used my overdraft



Had a gap in employment



Had a student loan



Been responsible for dependents (e.g. children)



Been in credit card debt



Any account handled by collection agencies



Missed bill payments



I have had gambling transactions on my history



Taken out a payday loan



Been declared bankrupt



Proactively seeking to improve credit profiles

Prospective first time buyers are now actively improving their credit with half (51%) ensuring they pay bills on time, over a third (37%) recently registering to be on the electoral roll, 28% actively paying off debt, and nearly one quarter (24%) paying down their overdrafts. Other credit rating improvement initiatives include closing unused credit cards (21%), seeking debt advice (15%) and paying off a student loan (15%).

Jon Cooper, head of mortgage distribution, Aldermore said:

“The data shows that the pandemic has added to already challenging conditions for those trying to get on the housing ladder but first time buyers should not despair. Being declined for a mortgage, even though it can be a deflating experience, is not game over as options have broadened over the past decade. The growth of specialist lenders, that through human underwriting can dig into the detail of more complicated applications, have opened the door for those with complicated income streams or credit issues in their past to find a pathway to home ownership.

“The home buying process can be confusing and complicated, especially as this generation of first time buyer is more diverse in financial circumstances than ever before. It may feel daunting at times so we would recommend seeking advice from a mortgage broker that can give a whole of market view and provide options specific to a new buyers’ individual circumstances.”


Notes to editors:

1 Research conducted, on behalf of Aldermore bank, by Opinium in March 2021, with a nationally representative sample size of 1,008 prospective first-time Buyers.

2 Research conducted, on behalf of Aldermore bank, by Opinium in March 2020, with a national representative sample of 2,003 prospective first time buyers

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