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We understand that if you're a first-time home buyer you don't have the luxury of time or money to choose the wrong mortgage, so we've saved you the trouble and distilled our knowledge into a guide which goes through how to compare and apply for a mortgage.
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
Once you’ve found the home you would like to purchase, you’ll need to obtain financial support from a lender in the form of a mortgage (if you cannot afford to pay for it outright). You’ll apply for your desired loan amount, and your lender will decide to grant you the loan or reject your application.
Because of the competition in the market, there are thousands of different mortgage products available. So deciding which one to apply for can be tricky unless you follow a procedure like the one below.
A good baseline way to compare the various types of mortgages is to compare the key facts which lenders are required by law to provide, these would be:
These key points of comparison can help you sort through the advertising and get through to the bare essentials a loan has. It doesn’t explain all of the major features a mortgage might come with, so be sure to also get acquainted with these further below.
There are a number of different types of mortgages out there for first-time buyers; the right one for you depends on your personal circumstances.
This option is popular with many first-time buyers as it means your interest rates would be fixed for the term of the deal which can be between 2 and 10 years. With fixed rate mortgages your repayments will also stay the same each month, which might appeal to those who like to budget and know how much they’re spending each month.
This is a type of variable mortgage, meaning your interest rate and repayments can go up or down depending on the lender or market. A cap simply allows you to only pay up to a certain amount each month but you also receive the advantages of low interest rates.
This is another type of variable mortgage where the interest rate you will be charged is discounted on the lenders standard variable rate. For example, if your lender has a SVR set at 4% and you have a discount of 1% you will pay 3% interest.
The interest rate can change overtime if the standard variable rate goes up and down.
This type of mortgage ‘tracks’ the interest rate of the Bank of England to then set margin above or below it. It is a type of variable mortgage as the interest you will be required to pay on your mortgage will rise and fall in line with this base line interest rate.
Interest-only loans will see none of your repayments go towards the capital you owe the lender, but rather completely to the interest that’s due. This means your loan will never get smaller, but also means your repayments will be smaller than with an equivalent capital and interest loan.
If paying off a home is your aim, interest-only loans may see the process lengthened, and may see you pay more interest than with an equivalent principal and interest loan.
Even once you’ve chosen what loan type you’re after, there are a number of features in addition to the interest rate and fees you’ll pay which will complete the comparison phase. Some of the more common features offered on a home loan are explained below:
There’s no one “best” type of mortgage for first-time buyers, but there are a couple of features which might be more appealing to borrowers trying to get into the market.
|Overall satisfaction||Customers who’d recommend||Issuer||Review|
|★★★★★||88%||Nationwide is the UK’s second-largest mortgage provider. It offers an impressive range of fixed-rate and tracker mortgages – and consistently ranks well for customer service as it is run primarily for the benefit of its members. When you remortgage to Nationwide, you can choose between receiving £500 cashback or having your legal fees waived.||Compare with broker|
|★★★★★||91%||Lloyds offers an impressive range of deals for those looking to move their mortgage to a new provider, particularly 2-year and 5-year fixed-rate deals. Lloyds tends to rank well in customer service surveys and you may receive cashback on certain remortgage deals.||Compare with broker|
|★★★★★||88%||HSBC doesn’t have a huge range of mortgage deals to remortgage to, but its deals regularly appear near the top of the best-rate tables. When you remortgage to HSBC, your valuation fee will be waived. Most of its deals also allow you to make additional payments and overpayments.||Compare with broker|
|★★★★★||88%||If you remortgage to Halifax, you’ll be able to choose from an impressive range of mortgages, especially fixed-rate deals. Halifax is part of the Lloyds Banking Group and it tends to rank well in customer service surveys. You could also receive cashback if you’re remortgaging to make improvements to your home.||Compare with broker|
|★★★★★||76%||L&C is the UK’s biggest mortgage broker. You can search for remortgage deals with the help of an L&C mortgage adviser online or over the phone. These experts will search through over 90 lenders to find the best remortgaging deal for your needs.||Visit broker|
There are shared ownership schemes available to those who are struggling to become homeowners. These allow you to buy a share in a property through a housing association and pay rent on the part of the property you don’t own.
The UK government have initiated help to buy schemes which allows you to borrow up to 20% of the value of your home (40% in London) interest-free for five years.
If you’re a first-time buyer in England or Northern Ireland, you will pay no stamp duty on properties worth up to £300,000, which could see you saving up to £5,000.
This means for properties costing up to £500,000, you will pay no stamp duty on the first £300,000, but you will pay stamp duty on the remaining £200,000. If the property you’re buying is worth over £500,000, you’ll pay the standard rates of stamp duty and won’t qualify for first-time buyers relief.
As of October 2018, first-time buyers under Shared Ownership schemes can now claim first-time buyers stamp duty relief on homes worth up to £500,000.
It’s also worth noting if you chose to pay stamp duty in stages and were previously not eligible for the relief, you can now claim this tax back. Unfortunately, if you chose to pay stamp duty on the market value of the property, your entitlement to claim the relief has not changed.
Stamp Duty is a land tax that applies if you buy a property or land over a certain price in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The current threshold is £125,000 for residential properties and £150,000 for non-residential land and properties. Stamp duty is set as a percentage of the property price.
For some first-time buyer schemes, you’ll be eligible to apply with a deposit worth just 5% of your property’s value.
However, if you can save a larger deposit, you’ll improve your chances of being approved for a mortgage and may even be able to access better interest rates.
Here are some ideas to help you save a bigger mortgage deposit.
You can apply jointly for a mortgage with up to three other applicants.
When you do this, the income of all applicants is considered jointly, meaning you’ll be eligible to borrow a larger amount for a property. Assuming everyone is pitching in, you’ll find it easier to save a larger deposit too.
Your credit scores will also be considered jointly. This could improve your chances of being approved for a mortgage, provided your co-applicant(s) have a better credit score than you. If they have bad credit, it could harm your application. It’s free and simple to check your credit score and report through a number of sites including Finder. Any co-applicants can do the same.
There are some downsides to a joint application. For starters, you’ll all have to agree when you want to sell the property. Also, if a co-applicant stops making mortgage repayments, you’ll be equally responsible for the shortfall.
As such, you should only jointly apply for a property with someone you trust.
Even after saving a suitable deposit, a lot of first-time buyers are still denied a mortgage because of a bad credit score. You can check what your credit score is here.
It’s important to start working to build your credit score now so it’s in a good state when the time comes to make your mortgage application.
Your credit score improves when you make timely repayments on your debts and bills. If you’re not already paying bills by direct debit, it’s worth setting a couple up. Consider applying for a credit-builder credit card, making small purchases on it and paying if off in full every month.
More importantly, ensure that no repayments are missed and that none of your financial accounts go overdrawn. This can decimate your credit score and ruin your chances of being approved for a mortgage.
If your credit score is looking worse for wear, explore the options for first-time buyers with bad credit.
Lenders will check your recent bank statements to ensure you’ll be able to comfortably afford your mortgage repayments. The bigger the gap between your income and your regular outgoings, the more eligible you’ll appear.
For this reason, it’s worth seeing what you can do to reduce your outgoings.
Cancel unnecessary direct debits and standing orders. Pay off as many debts as you can, especially those you’re paying interest on. Haggle over the cost of your utility bills.
It’s also worth closing any accounts that give you access to additional credit you’re not using. Many lenders perceive this additional credit as an additional opportunity for you to get into unsustainable debt and this could count against you when making a mortgage application.
Make sure your correct name and address is registered on the electoral role. This is a quick task, which can have a significant impact on your mortgage application.
Check your credit report for errors too. You can view your report and amend errors by contacting any of the UK’s three major credit reference agencies.
The cheaper the property and the less you’ll have to borrow from a lender, the easier you’ll find it to be approved for a mortgage.
Most mortgage lenders will let you borrow a maximum of 4.5 times your annual income for a mortgage, provided you can comfortably afford to make the monthly repayments.
When hunting for a property, consider what you need and what you’re likely to be approved for. We’d all like a guest bedroom, but many first-time buyers would find it far easier to be approved for a mortgage if they sacrificed this.
If you enlist expert help when choosing a mortgage provider, this will make it easier to be approved.
A professional mortgage adviser will not only be able to point out the best available deals, but also recommend the lenders most likely to work with someone in your situation.
This will save you from making multiple applications to multiple lenders, only to be rejected. Doing this will harm your credit score, making it tougher to be approved by other lenders in the future.
If you’ve never taken out a mortgage before, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the amount of choice available, with hundreds of lenders offering thousands of different deals. Although this highly competitive mortgage market is good for borrowers, it means that narrowing down your options isn’t always straightforward.
House prices have grown rapidly over the last 20 years so it’s become increasingly harder to get onto the property ladder. The average first-time buyer deposit was 23% of the purchase price in February 2019, according to trade body UK Finance. This equates to nearly £49,000 based on the average loan size.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to save up a big enough deposit and afford the mortgage repayments there are plenty of mortgage lenders who will consider lending to you. But, if not, there are a number of specialist mortgage types offered by a more limited number of lenders that are designed to help.
Below, we’ve highlighted some of the lenders offering the best options we found at the time of writing but the best mortgage deal for you will depend on your circumstances and what’s available at the time. It’s a good idea to speak to a mortgage broker who can look at the whole market to help you find the best deal. Some products are also only available through brokers.
Before you apply for a mortgage, it’s important that you understand the different types available and how interest on them is calculated. From this, you can work out how much you can borrow based on your savings and your income, using online affordability tools.
Speak to a mortgage broker, who will search the market for a deal that is best suited to your situation. But make sure you check that they are on the Financial Services Register first, which will ensure they are properly authorised.
The next important step is to find a property within the budget you have set out. Once you’ve found this perfect home, go back to the lender and begin the mortgage application. This will involve detailed research into your finances, including earnings, expenditure and a full credit check with a credit reference agency.
Once you’ve had a mortgage offer accepted, you’ll need to do two things:
A property survey is an inspection of your property that shows you any problems with it – before you move in. The idea is you face no nasty surprises when you actually buy the place, like finding out you have to do extensive repairs or that there’s damp.
It’s different from a lender’s valuation survey, which your lender uses to check they’re not lending you more money than the property is worth. The lender’s valuation survey is super basic and doesn’t look at potential defects in the property.
If you want an independent check – designed to reassure you, rather than the lender – it’s worth doing your own survey.
There are a few different types of survey – here they are ordered from most basic to the deepest inspection.
If your survey does find problems, don’t panic. That usually happens. You’ll have a number of options for how to proceed. You can get a quote for repairs and see if you feel it’s worth it. Or you could make a lower offer on the property price. If it all feels like too much, you’re still allowed to just walk away – you haven’t signed anything yet!
The legal side of buying a property is called conveyancing. You’ll need to hire either a solicitor or a conveyancer to handle this for you. It doesn’t matter which!
In Scotland, you’ll need to think about it earlier, because you can only make a formal offer on a property through a solicitor. So you’ll need to hire one before you even start looking at houses.
You conveyancer or solicitor will do all the work you need to buy legally and safely. Here are some of the things they’ll do:
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The definition according to the UK government.
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