Which are the best mortgage lenders?
Every year, we survey thousands of mortgage customers to reveal the lenders leading the way in customer service. We also analyse thousands of residential mortgages over four weeks to find the lenders offering the most competitive deals.
Based on a combination of results from our June 2019 customer satisfaction survey and expert mortgage analysis, we've named the following lenders Which? Recommended Providers - meaning they're currently the best mortgage lenders out there.
|Provider||Which? verdict||Customer score|
|A Which? Recommended Provider for the sixth year running, Nationwide offers a large number of mortgages, including options for borrowers over 55.||79%|
|Principality can consider applications that also take into account your parents' income, so that you might be able to borrow a higher amount than if you applied alone.||76%|
|Coventry Building Society offered the highest number of cheap mortgage deals out of the 28 lenders we reviewed, as well as a range of offset mortgages.||76%|
Although these providers are great all-rounders, the best mortgage lender for you will depend on your individual circumstances.
That's why you should always take advice from an independent, whole-of-market mortgage broker before applying for a mortgage.
Best and worst lenders: the full results
In June 2019 we surveyed 3,574 members of the general public about how satisfied they were with their mortgage lender. There was a big gap between the best mortgage lenders and the worst. Here’s what we found:
Table notes: Customer score based on a survey of 3,574 members of the general public in June 2019. The average customer score is 67%. Star ratings out of five show levels of satisfaction with each area. Customer scores are worked out using a combination of overall satisfaction and likelihood of recommending the provider to a friend. If two or more brands show the same overall score, they are ranked alphabetically. Providers must receive a minimum sample size of 30 for inclusion in the table. Where a '-' is shown we have an insufficient sample size (less than 30) to calculate a star rating. Sample sizes in brackets: Accord Mortgages (73), Aldermore (30), Atom Bank (31), Barclays (387), Chelsea Building Society (46), Clydesdale Bank (35), Coventry Building Society (66), First Direct (72), Halifax (391), HSBC (257), Kensington (39), Leeds Building Society (49), Lloyds Bank (160), Metro Bank (36), Nationwide Building Society (372), NatWest (243), Principality Building Society (40), Royal Bank of Scotland (84), Santander (398), Skipton Building Society (49), The Co-operative Bank/Platform (combined - 87), TSB (69), Virgin Money (64), Yorkshire Bank (33), Yorkshire Building Society (51).
How we identify the best mortgage lenders
In order to be named a Which? Recommended Provider, mortgage lenders must:
- have achieved a top customer score in a Which? customer satisfaction survey;
- consistently offer table-topping mortgage deals over various product types; and
- be fully covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and 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.
You can find out more about our deal analysis, and how each lender performed, in our individual mortgage lender reviews.
How to choose the best mortgage lender for you
The best lender for you won't simply be determined by who's offering the lowest interest rate or the biggest mortgage.
Identifying the most appropriate type of mortgage - whether it's a fixed-rate, tracker or discount - is 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.
You can compare products yourself by checking out the Which? Money Compare mortgage comparison tables.
- Find out more: finding the best mortgage deals
- Find out more: remortgaging: how to save thousands by switching your mortgage
Which banks offer the biggest mortgages?
When buying a property, it’s not just the deposit you need to think about, but also the size of 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 go up.
How much can I borrow?
The amount you can borrow will be based on your income, if you have any dependents and certain outgoings like monthly repayments on credit cards and other loans.
Lenders usually perform an affordability assessment and check your credit history to decide how much they can lend you.
As a general rule of thumb, lenders usually allow you to borrow between 3.5 and 4.75 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:
|First-time buyer with £35,000 income||Loan-to-income multiple||Joint first-time buyers with £75,000 income||Loan-to-income multiple|
Source: Online mortgage calculators (September 2019) based on a property value of £200,000 and 15% deposit of £30,000. Both scenarios assume no dependents or debts, and a 25 year term.
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.
A mortgage broker can advise on the right mortgage for you, and could help save you time by telling you which lenders are most likely to accept you.
Which are the biggest mortgage lenders in the UK?
According to data from UK Finance, the largest mortgage lenders in 2018 were:
- Lloyds Banking Group (which includes Lloyds Bank and Halifax)
- Royal Bank of Scotland
- Coventry Building Society
- Yorkshire Building Society
- Virgin Money
- TSB Bank
- Clydesdale Bank
Choosing a major lender can have some advantages - for example, they often offer an extensive range of products, and have more 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 better suit your particular circumstances, so it's important to take expert advice from a mortgage broker on the right option for you.
- Find out more: applying for a mortgage