Which are the best mortgage lenders?
Every six months we survey around 5,000 members of the public to reveal the best mortgage lenders according to real-life customers.
In our most recent survey (June 2017), the providers below were rated highly enough to earn Which? Recommended Provider status due to their customer service and competitive deals.
First Direct, which was launched in 1989, is lauded by customers for its helpful service and competitive rates. The bank is primarily internet- and phone-based, so it doesn't have branches - but you can visit HSBC or the Post Office to pay in cheques or cash.
Nationwide is the UK's largest building society, meaning it's run for the benefit of its members. Currently the second-largest mortgage lender in the market, it tops the table for customer satisfaction and offers attractive mortgage deals.
|Which? Recommended Mortgage Providers|
|Provider||Which? verdict||Customer score|
|A consistently high scorer in our customer satisfaction surveys, First Direct can also be relied on for some of the best deals around. You will need a 1st Account to be eligible.||80%|
|The UK's largest building society is the top mortgage lender for customer satisfaction and offers deals for those with large and small deposits.||72%|
Table notes: Customer score based on a survey of 4,196 members of the general public in June 2017.
However, while these companies are very popular, the best lender for you will depend on your individual circumstances - for example, some lenders are more willing to give mortgages to self-employed homebuyers, while others specialise in guarantor mortgages.
Which? Mortgage Advisers offers an expert, impartial mortgage advice service that offers one-to-one advice on the best deal and provider for your personal situation.
How we select the best mortgage lenders
In order to be named a Which? Recommended Provider, mortgage providers must:
- have achieved a top score in the latest Which? satisfaction survey
- consistently offer competitive mortgage deals
- be fully covered by the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme) and FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) banking standards regime
Which? closely monitors the products and practices of all recommended providers, and reserves the right to exclude any company that does not treat its customers fairly.
Want to know how all the mortgage lenders in our survey were rated? Compare mortgage lenders in our full table.
Who are the biggest mortgage lenders in the UK?
Currently, the largest mortgage lenders in the UK are:
- Lloyds Banking Group
- Nationwide Building Society
- Royal Bank of Scotland
(Data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders, July 2017)
These also represent some of the largest banks and building societies within the UK market.
Choosing a major lender can have some advantages - they often offer an extensive range of products and have a larger number of branches available.
But don't think you need to go with one of the big players just because you recognise the name or you're already a customer.
Smaller lenders may offer tailored products that suit your particular circumstances - so it's important to compare all deals available to find the right mortgage for you.
Which banks allow you to borrow the most money for a mortgage?
When buying a property it’s not just the deposit you need to think about, you also need to consider the size of the mortgage you can get.
Lenders have to stick to strict mortgage affordability rules, which means they have to lend responsibly and ensure you can afford to repay the loan both today and in the future, when rates could potentially go up.
The amount you can borrow will be based on your income, how many dependents you have and certain outgoings like monthly repayments on existing credit card debts and other loans.
Lenders will perform an affordability assessment as well as check your credit history to decide what they can lend to you.
As a general rule of thumb, lenders will usually allow you to borrow four times your income, but this can vary greatly depending on the provider you use and their lending criteria.
In our research using online mortgage calculators, we found there can be a difference of tens of thousands of pounds between what the biggest lenders will let you borrow.
|Scenario 1: First-time buyer, single applicant, £35,000 income*||Loan-to-income multiple||Scenario 2: First-time buyers, joint applicants,£75,000 joint income*||Loan-to-income multiple|
|Halifax||£166,250 (joint highest)||4.62||£308,750||4.11|
|Lloyds Bank||£166,250 (joint highest)||4.62||£308,750||4.11|
|Nationwide Building Society||£157,200||4.49||£308,800 (highest)||4.49|
|Royal Bank of Scotland||£140,000||4||£260,000||3.47|
Source: Which? analysis of online mortgage affordability calculators (correct as of 25 May 2018)
*Both scenarios were for a £300,000 home and the fictional borrowers had a £25,000 deposit and no dependents or other debts
However, this table only offers a rough idea. You won’t really know how much you can borrow from a particular lender until you apply and undergo a full credit check and mortgage affordability assessment - so it can feel like a bit like a dark art in deciding which lender to go for.
The experts at Which? Mortgage Advisers have an in-depth understanding of which providers tend to lend the most to different types of borrowers. They can also provide a more accurate view of how much you'll be able to borrow than an online calculator. For expert advice, call them today on 0808 252 7987.
How to choose the best mortgage provider for you
The best lender for you won't simply be determined by who's offering the lowest interest rate or biggest mortgage. Identifying the most appropriate type of mortgage - whether it's a fixed-rate, tracker or discount - will be crucial to whether or not the mortgage meets your needs.
You should also check the fees that are attached to the deal, as these can add thousands to what you'll pay overall. For more tips, check out our full guide to finding the best mortgage deals.
Seeking expert advice
There are thousands of mortgage deals available on the market - and most are only available if you apply via an intermediary, such as a mortgage broker.
To find the right deal for your circumstances, it's wise to speak to a whole-of-market mortgage broker. They can identify the lenders most likely to lend to you, and will advise on your application to give you the strongest chance of being accepted.
Which? Mortgage Advisers looks at every deal on the market and provides advice on your individual circumstances. For expert advice, call today on 0808 252 7987 or fill out the form below to get a free callback.
Correct as of date of publication.