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24 Jan 2019

Which lender gives you the biggest mortgage?

You could potentially borrow £22,500 more depending on which lender you apply to
computer screen showing mortgage application

The amount you can borrow through a mortgage could vary by as much as £22,500 depending on the lender you apply to, according to Which? research.

When buying a property it's not just the deposit you need to consider; you also need to factor in the size of mortgage you'll be able to get.

While online mortgage calculators will give you a rough idea of how much you might be able to borrow, exclusive Which? research has found that in reality this could vary hugely from lender to lender.

Below, we explain how mortgage lenders work out how much to lend you and then reveal those that offer the biggest - and smallest - mortgages.

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How much can you borrow for a mortgage?

The amount you can borrow will be determined by what the lender thinks you can afford to repay.

This will be based on your income and certain outgoings such as childcare, travel, and repayments on existing credit card debts and other loans.

Lenders will perform an 'affordability assessment' as well as checking your credit history to decide on the amount they're willing to lend you.

As a general rule, lenders will allow you to borrow a maximum of four-and-a-half times your annual income (or the combined annual incomes of you and whoever you're buying with), but this can vary greatly depending on the provider and their lending criteria, and even the area you're buying in.

This means it can be a bit of a stab in the dark when looking for a mortgage deal and if you choose the wrong provider your property dreams could be unnecessarily dashed.

Where can you get the biggest mortgage?

We asked independent mortgage brokerWhich? Mortgage Advisers to check what 10 major lenders would offer to a buyer in the following scenario:

  • Annual income: £30,000
  • Deposit: £25,000 (which we're assuming would be at least 10% of the property price)
  • Mortgage term: 25 years

We found a huge difference in what lenders would offer - £22,500 in fact; a significant sum when trying to land the property of your dreams.

The amount a single applicant could borrowLoan-to-income multiple
Lloyds Banking Group (Halifax, Scottish Widows, Lloyds Bank)£142,5004.75
Coventry Building Society£135,0004.5
Virgin Money£134,7004.49

Source: Which? Mortgage Advisers

In the analysis, Barclays offered the biggest mortgage at £150,000 - five times our applicant's income.

In contrast, the Royal Bank of Scotland offered the smallest loan of just £127,500 - or 4.25 times the applicant's income.

How can you boost the amount you can borrow?

Lenders have to stick to strict affordability rules to ensure they lend responsibly and that you can afford to repay the loan both now and in future, when rates could rise.

However, if you're struggling to make the figures add up there are some things you can do to boost the amount you can borrow.

Shop around:you can use individual mortgage providers' online calculators to get a sense of how much you're likely to be able to borrow based on your circumstances. This can give you a steer as to which ones are likely to offer the most.

Reduce outgoings:reducing your outgoings can help improve your affordability and boost the amount you can borrow.

Pay down your other debts:in some cases, paying off some of your credit card debt can increase your borrowing capacity. It's best to seek advice on this option before jumping in though.

Adjust the term:sometimes taking out a mortgage over a longer period can help you meet the affordability requirements on a deal and therefore boost your borrowing limits. Extending the term from 25 to 30 years, for example, can lower monthly repayments, so you may be able to ask for more.

Consider a specialist mortgage:some lenders offer more to applicants with certain professions and in some cases, you may also be able to borrow more through special products such asguarantor mortgages.

Seek advice:a professional mortgage broker will have detailed knowledge of all the lenders in the market and will be able to suggest the ones likely to lend you more based on your circumstances. Some lenders, for example, may exclude costs such as student loan repayments from their affordability calculation, potentially opening the doors to a larger mortgage.