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Best mortgage lenders: Find the best deal

Read our in-depth guide to finding the best mortgage lender for your needs.

There’s no universal measure of what makes a “best” lender – it’s more about which one offers what you need and what’s important to you.

However, there are definitely qualities that mortgage-hunters typically look for in a lender – such as low-interest rates, low fees and generous terms. Many consumers also want lenders with a great track record in customer service.

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Best lender for residential mortgages

Halifax is part of Lloyds Banking Group, which was the most commonly used UK mortgage lender in 2019 (based on gross lending amounts).

When you explore its range of mortgages, it becomes obvious why Halifax is so popular.

It regularly appears at the top of the comparison tables for fixed-rate mortgages with various terms. There are also plenty of competitive tracker and buy-to-let mortgages to choose from. Some mortgages are designed to suit first-time buyers, while others will appeal to older borrowers.

Best lender for remortgaging

HSBC tends to be a strong choice for those looking to switch mortgages.

This bank regularly appears at the top of 75% mortgage tables for fixed-rate mortgages, whether you’re looking for two, three or five year terms.

It offers a free standard valuation, and you’ll often be able to make payments and overpayments (subject to conditions).

Best lenders for commercial mortgages

It’s difficult to recommend commercial mortgages because these products are more complicated than a residential mortgage.

There are no price comparison websites for these mortgages, and it’s highly recommended to book these mortgages using a broker. The most important aspects to consider are the maximum lending amount (as commercial properties can be very expensive) and the range of mortgage terms.

Best mortgage lender for customer service

Customer service might not be too important throughout the term of your mortgage. In fact, if you make repayments on time every month, you may not need to communicate with your mortgage provider at all.

However, if you fall behind on repayments or want to make changes to your mortgage, great customer service suddenly becomes integral.

First Direct has won many awards for sterling customer service over the years, including “Best Customer Service” and “Most Recommend Bank” at the 2017 British Bank Awards.

Best mortgage lender for first-time buyers

First-time buyers will often be keen to find lenders that accept low deposits. For this reason, we’d recommend Newcastle Building Society, which regularly appears at the top of comparison tables for 95% mortgages.

Nationwide Building Society is worth a look too. It also offers 95% mortgages, plus first-time buyers will get £500 cashback upon completion. It is happy to consider mortgages linked with first-time buyer schemes, such as Help To Buy, Shared Ownership and Right To Buy. You may also want to check out its range of Family Deposit Mortgages, which allows family members to gift a deposit.

Best mortgage lender for buy-to-let

Leeds Building Society regularly appears at the top of buy-to-let mortgage comparison tables.

It offers fixed-rate, tracker and variable-rate buy-to-let mortgages. There are mortgages specifically for Small Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). There’s an “Easy Start” mortgage, which will charge 0% interest for three months with no fees. What’s more, you’ll be granted 10% capital repayments each year without incurring an early repayment charge.

Best mortgage lender for low income or a low deposit

Lloyds Bank has the most generous income-to-lending ratio of the “big six” banks. It won’t charge a valuation fee, it’ll pay your legal fees for you plus it gives £200 cashback to Club Lloyds current account holders who complete on a mortgage.

It works with customers using Help To Buy. What’s more, it has launched a 100% “Lend A Hand” mortgage for buyers with family members willing to lend them savings.

Best lender for retirement

Halifax regularly tops the comparison tables for mortgage with a 60% loan-to-value or lower. It recently raised its upper age for mortgage owners to 80.

Many large lenders have since followed suit. While there are plenty of smaller building societies with no maximum age limit at all, they usually struggle to compete with the rates on offer from Halifax.

Best lenders for bad credit

In this situation, the “best” mortgage lender will depend on how bad your credit score is. As a rule, lenders with more lending terms tend to have more expensive deals.

As such, it’s highly recommended to work with a mortgage broker, who has specialist knowledge of providers’ lending terms and will be able to recommend the best mortgage for your needs.

How to search for the best lenders

In spite of our recommendations, it’s important to do your own research to learn which lenders will work best with your situation.

Many people will search for the best mortgage deal through price comparison websites. These websites will list the cheapest deals based on the criteria you select. However, some lenders don’t appear on these websites and some price comparison websites prioritise affiliate lenders, even if they’re not the best.

Alternatively, you could use a mortgage broker. This individual has expert knowledge of mortgage providers’ lending criteria, which could be invaluable if you have a low income or have unique circumstances. They’ll search for the best deal on your behalf, including those that are only available through broker services, so you can feel confident about being recommended a deal that you’ll actually be approved for. You’ll pay a fee for their services though.

How to get the best deal

  • Save a bigger deposit. The larger your deposit, the less you’ll need to borrow and the better rates you’ll be able to access. Explore the government’s first-time buyer schemes to help you save a deposit faster.
  • Consider the fees. Don’t just compare interest rates. Many lenders will advertise tiny fees to get to the top of price comparison sites, but slap a huge one-off fee on it to make up for it. Consider the overall cost over the introductory period.
  • Reduce your outgoings. The more disposable income you have, the more comfortable lenders will be offering you a great deal. You can achieve this either by increasing your income or lowering your outgoings.
  • Boost your credit score. Your credit score is a numerical indicator of your reliability when borrowing money. You can boost yours by making all debt repayments on time and never going overdrawn. Pay all your bills by direct debit to boost your score even faster.
  • Show job security. If your income comes from a stable full-time job, this will support your application. Self-employed, part-time or commission-earning workers are seen as riskier prospects by many lenders, especially if it’s a new job.
  • Apply for a joint mortgage. If you apply for a mortgage jointly, the lender will consider the total income of all applicants. You should be able to save a bigger deposit too. However, you’ll be equally responsible for mortgage repayments and will have to agree on when to sell.

Best mortgage lenders: Summary

  • Halifax: Best for residential mortgages
  • HSBC: Best for remortgaging
  • First Direct: Customer service
  • Newcastle Building Society: Best for first time buyers
  • Leeds Building Society: Best for buy-to-let
  • Lloyds Bank: Best for low income or low deposit
  • Halifax: Best for retirement

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*Disclaimer: The offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of products whose details Finder has access to track; they don't represent all the products available in the market. Unless indicated otherwise, products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations) are not product ratings and are subject to our terms of use. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your personal financial circumstances when comparing products.

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