Which? uses cookies to improve our sites and by continuing you agree to our cookies policy

Mortgages and deposits: the basics

What is a mortgage?

By Marie Kemplay

Article 1 of 4

Put us to the test

Our Test Labs compare features and prices on a range of products. Try Which? to unlock our reviews. You'll instantly be able to compare our test scores, so you can make sure you don't get stuck with a Don't Buy.

What is a mortgage?

A mortgage is a loan that enables you to buy a house. Watch our short, easy-to-understand video to find out how mortgages work.


Types of mortgage deals 

With hundreds of deals to choose from, finding the right mortgage can be a minefield. 

The video above explains the key differences between a repayment mortgage and an interest-only mortgage, which you can also read more about in: interest-only and repayment mortgages.

You might also want to take a look at the pros and cons of fixed-rate mortgages, tracker mortgages, discount mortgages and standard variable rate mortgages. 

The mortgage you choose will depend on your circumstances. Some important things to keep in mind when deciding which type is right for you include:  

  • how much you've have saved for a deposit
  • the type of property you're buying - a house, flat, new-build etc
  • the length of time you want to be paying off the mortgage
  • how much you can afford to pay each month.

For more information on how to choose the best mortgage for you, visit our Which type of mortgage deal is right? page.

Mortgage rates

With so many different types of mortgage available, interest rates can vary considerably. Mortgages with a fixed rate over a long period of time tend to charge more interest, as you're paying for the security of knowing that the amount you pay won't change during that period.

It's not just the interest rate you need to look out for though. While choosing the the lowest rate might seem like the best option, low-rate mortgage deals often come with large arrangement fees, meaning you could end up spending a much larger chunk up front to secure your deal. Depending on your circumstances, a mortgage with a higher interest rate and smaller arrangement fees could work out cheaper.  

Find out more: Which? Mortgage Advisers - if you'd like an impartial expert to look at every single mortgage on the market and recommend the best one for your personal circumstances, call 0808 252 7987.

  • Last updated: September 2016
  • Updated by: Marie Kemplay

Correct as of date of publication.



Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Which? Limited (registered in England and Wales number 00677665) is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited (registered in England and Wales number 07239342). Which? Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited. Registered office: 2 Marylebone Road, London NW1 4DF.