July 12, 2023
Fees Free Mortgage Team

Who are the Best Lenders for First-Time Buyers in the UK?

July 12, 2023 - Fees Free Mortgage Team

Who are the Best Lenders for First-Time Buyers in the UK?

On the hunt for your very first mortgage? Finding the right lender for the job should be at the top of your priority list. But how can you know who the best in the business actually is? Which deals are really as good as they claim to be? Does bigger always mean better? Our team are here to answer your questions. 

We’ve put our heads together to form a list of our top recommended lenders for first-time buyers, with a few extra tips to take in along the way. Whatever lender-related worries you have, we’re here to make that big decision a little less big. 

What is a Mortgage Lender?

When it comes to purchasing your first home, understanding the role your mortgage lender plays is crucial. 

Simply put, lenders do just what they say on the tin – providing clients like you with the funds they need to buy in the form of a loan. In this context, they specialise in mortgages (long term loans used to buy property).

What Does a Mortgage Lender Do?

From banks to building societies and beyond, lenders are financial institutions designed to give large loans (mortgages) to home buyers. If you’re able to put down a suitable deposit and meet their requirements, they’ll supply the vast majority of the money you need to buy your dream home. Of course, you’ll be required to pay this money back, with interest, over an agreed period of time, usually 15 to 30 years.

Mortgage lenders are responsible for setting the terms of your loan including the interest rate, repayment period, and any associated fees. They also assess your financial circumstances—looking at your income, debts, credit score, and more—to determine if you’re a good candidate for a loan. 

You might be able to approach a lender directly – for example, your existing bank may offer some mortgage deals – but we recommend working with a broker in order to get a full, unbiased view of what the market has to offer, and for fees free assistance with the application process. More on this later!

Our Top First-Time Buyer Lenders

We know how hard it is to get your foot on the property ladder. That’s why we’re here to offer insight into our top lender picks for first time buyers. The following list includes some of our most popular picks for clients, however, everyone is unique. If you’d like fully tailored, fees free mortgage advice and assistance from choosing a lender to closing, why not get in contact?


95% Mortgages

For most of us, owning a home can seem a distant dream, especially when saving for a deposit can be so hard. That’s where Nationwide come in, aiming to make homeownership more accessible than ever with their 95% loan-to-value (LTV) mortgages. 

Nationwide’s 95% mortgage allows buyers to enter the property market with a just 5% deposit, with the ability to borrow the remaining 95% in the form of a loan of up to £500,000.

With a range of fixed and tracker rate mortgage options, spanning from 2 to 10-year contracts, Nationwide allows first-time buyers to sign up for an interest rate that suits their needs. As an added benefit, first-time buyers who complete their mortgage with Nationwide can enjoy a £500 cashback reward. 

Overall, Nationwide’s 95% mortgage provides a low-LTV avenue for first-time buyers to enter the property market sooner, and is a popular choice for our clients. 

Helping Hand Mortgage

Looking to boost your budget? Nationwide’s Helping Hand mortgage helps buyers borrow up to 20% more than traditional mortgage options, opening up a new world of property opportunities.

It’s open to first-time buyers with at least a 5% deposit to put down, and looking to take out one of Nationwide’s 5 or 10-year fixed-rate mortgages. This scheme offers all of the value of a 95% mortgage with added spending power and benefits. 

First-time buyers who complete their mortgage with Nationwide can enjoy a £500 cashback reward, with the ability to overpay up to 10% of the loan amount each year without incurring an Early Repayment Charge. 

When your deal period ends, you’ll be moved onto Nationwide’s 7.99% Standard Mortgage Rate, with the option to switch should you wish. 

Shared Ownership 

Shared ownership mortgages offer an alternative path to homeownership, perfectly tailored to first-time buyers who may not be able to afford a property outright. With Nationwide’s shared ownership scheme, you can purchase a share of the property (between 25% to 75% of the home’s value) and pay rent on the remaining share owned by a housing association.

This arrangement is ideal for first-time buyers looking to put down a smaller deposit. Plus, with the opportunity to gradually increase your ownership share through ‘staircasing’, shared ownership mortgages provide an affordable way to buy.


Skipton Building Society

Track Record (100%) Mortgage

For first-time buyers with limited credit history or non-traditional income sources, finding mortgage financing can pose a difficult challenge. Unlike other mortgage lenders, Skipton Building Society recognises the importance of assessing your overall financial behaviour through, for example, a track record of rent payments, rather than solely relying on traditional credit scoring models. 

With the Track Record Mortgage, first-time buyers with a limited credit history or non-traditional income sources, like self-employed or freelance workers, can access up to £600,000 of mortgage financing. 

Accessibility is a priority for Skipton Building Society, which is why this deal is available for first-time buyers with a less than 5% deposit (it’s commonly promoted as a 100% mortgage),  and a 5-year fixed interest rate, meaning that in changing financial times, your interest rate remains solid. 

By taking track records into account, Skipton Building Society provides a fair and inclusive pathway to homeownership to a wider range of first-time buyers who face challenges with traditional mortgage lending criteria.

First Homes England Scheme

For first-time buyers, the ever-rising costs of properties can be dream-shattering. Skipton Building Society’s support of the First Homes England Scheme aims to keep costs down. 

This government-backed scheme offers newly built homes at a discount of 30% and 50% off the market price to first-time buyers with a household income below £80,000 (£90,000 in Greater London), helping them take their first step towards homeownership in areas where housing affordability poses a significant challenge.

Accessibility and affordability are a priority of First Homes, which is why first-time buyers are only required to pay a 5% deposit of the discounted property price. 

Shared Ownership

If you’re a first-time buyer struggling to purchase a property outright, then a shared ownership mortgage may be the perfect solution for you. Skipton Building Society’s shared ownership scheme helps first-time buyers to get a headstart on the property ladder, letting them purchase a share of the property (between 25% to 75% of the home’s value) while paying rent on the remaining share owned by a housing association.  

Saving for a deposit can be difficult, which is why this arrangement is ideal for first-time buyers, plus, with a shared ownership mortgage, homeownership is never far away, as the opportunity to increase your ownership share through ‘staircasing’ provides you with an affordable route to your homeownership destination. 

Skipton Building Society

Leeds Building Society

Fixed Rate Mortgages

In changing financial times, first-time buyers need something they can rely on. That’s why Leeds Building Society offer fixed rate mortgages. With a fixed-rate mortgage, your interest remains unchanged for a term between 2 and 5 years, so you remain worry-free for longer, with no unwelcome surprises. Your interest rates aren’t the only consistent thing here – with Leeds Building Society, your mortgage repayments will also stay steady throughout the fixed-rate period, providing you with budget stability and predictability.

Regardless of any fluctuations in the wider economy or changes in the base interest rate, your mortgage interest rate will remain locked in, giving you peace of mind throughout the duration of your term.

First Homes Scheme

In a fluctuating economy, homeownership can seem impossible for first-time buyers. Leeds Building Society’s support of the First Homes England Scheme aims to help first-time buyers close their first purchase a little more easily. By offering newly built homes at a discounted rate of 30% and 50% off the market price, First Home England gives those struggling with affordability a leg up the property ladder. If you’re a first-time buyer with a household income below £80,000 (£90,000 in Greater London), it’s a great option. 

Struggling to save for a deposit? Not to worry. With First Homes, first-time buyers are only required to pay a 5% deposit of the discounted property price. 

Shared Ownership and Equity Mortgages

With Leeds Building Society’s shared ownership mortgage, first-time buyers can take their first step onto the property ladder, negating the need to pay for a full mortgage upfront. As with other shared ownership deals, you’ll only be required to purchase a share of the property (between 25% to 75% of the home’s value),  and pay rent on the remaining share owned by a housing association – lowering your overall rates. 

If your homeownership dreams become bigger, not to worry. Shared ownership provides you with the opportunity to increase your ownership share through ‘staircasing’.

Alternatively, Leeds Building Society also offers a shared equity scheme in which buyers receive an equity loan from a housing provider or government agency. This reduces the amount you need to borrow from a mortgage lender, and in return, allows you to maintain full ownership of the property, sharing a portion of the property’s value appreciation or depreciation with the equity provider. 

Both shared ownership and equity mortgages offer viable options for first-time buyers to bridge the affordability gap and secure a home and build equity while benefiting from reduced financial burdens in the early years of homeownership. 

Leeds Building Society


Deposit Unlock Scheme 

Saving for a deposit can often be the barrier standing in between you and finding a place to call home. But with Accord’s Deposit Unlock Scheme, that barrier can come crashing down. With their range of 95% loan-to-value mortgage products, first-time buyers can access exclusive deals on new build houses of a value of up to £600,000.

Just because you’re a first-time buyer doesn’t mean you have to miss out on bonuses! With this scheme, you’ll benefit from an insurance backed guarantee. And the best thing? You’ll own 100% of the property, so you don’t have to sacrifice affordability or ownership. It’s the best of both worlds. 

Joint Borrower Sole Proprietor 

Starting your homeownership journey alone can be a daunting task, which is why Accord offer a Joint Borrower Sole Proprietor scheme, designed to assist first-time buyers who may be struggling to meet affordability requirements. Under this scheme, you won’t have to struggle to the top of the property ladder alone, as you’ll be able to apply for a mortgage with a co-borrower, like a parent or family member, who contributes their income and financial standing to support the application. 

With this scheme, you won’t have to surrender your homeownership dreams. The property ownership remains solely in the name of the primary borrower, meaning you get full control and responsibility as the sole proprietor. 

The joint borrower scheme’s ability to maximise borrowing capacity opens more doors for first-time buyers to secure a higher loan amount or access more favourable interest rates. With the support of a trusted partner or family member, first-time buyers can overcome affordability challenges and fulfil their aspirations of homeownership. 


How to Choose a Lender

Now we’ve given you our top recommended lenders for first-time buyers, there’s one big question left to answer. How do you know which deal is best for you?

Comparing mortgages is complicated, and scouring the entire market can be impossible, with many of the best deals locked away. As well as being time-consuming, without knowledge of the industry, it’s easy to overlook factors affecting how suitable each mortgage actually is for your needs. 

Our experts recommend considering a number of key factors:

Firstly, assessing your financial situation can help determine your borrowing needs. Consider things such as your credit score, income, and savings to determine the type of loan you qualify for and the amount you can afford. Online mortgage calculators can provide you with some approximate figures to work with here!

The type of mortgage you want should also be a factor in deciding which lender you choose to start your homeownership journey with. As we’ve pointed out, some banks have better deals on fixed-rate mortgages, while others have lower income thresholds desirable for first-time buyers. 

So how do you make a decision? That’s where Fees Free Mortgages come in. Mortgage brokers like us are here to make your journey easier. We’ll do all the hard work for you, expertly filtering the entire market (including exclusive offers) for the very best deal for your unique needs.

While lenders are likely to be biassed, offering only deals that they supply, Fees Free Mortgages has your best interests at heart. We’re independent, impartial, and completely dedicated to helping find a suitable mortgage for you and your financial circumstances.

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