How do you find the best mortgage lenders? Here's what you need to know

Focus not only on getting the lowest rate but also on finding a mortgage lender that best suits your needs

When you’re searching for a mortgage, getting the cheapest mortgage rate may be top of your list, but choosing the best mortgage lenders for your circumstances is also important.

After all, your mortgage is likely to be your biggest financial commitment. During these uncertain times, knowing you’re with a reliable lender can take the stress out of the process.

Where can you find the best mortgage lenders?

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There are plenty of independent surveys you can use as a starting point to see which are the best mortgage lenders for customer service.

For example, consumer association Which? has an annual lender survey, rating them on customer service. First Direct took the top spot in the latest survey, with a score of 81%, while Nationwide Building Society came second with 77%.

While these surveys can prove a useful guide, the best mortgage lender for you depends on your individual requirements.

A price comparison website will give you an overview of which lenders may offer you the cheapest rate deal. By typing in a few details with the likes of our sister brand GoCompare, CompareTheMarket and, for example, you can find the lenders offering the lowest rates for the type of mortgage you want, whether that’s a fixed rate, or tracker.

It’s crucial to remember that you might not necessarily be eligible for the lowest rates mortgage lenders offer. This may come down to additional factors like your credit history. Nonetheless, it can provide a useful insight into which may be the best mortgage lender for your needs.

What should you look for in a mortgage lender?

Getting a good idea of other borrowers’ experiences with individual lenders will help you identify the best mortgage lender for you.

Check out online reviews. See how those mortgage lenders rank on customer satisfaction, and also whether they are transparent when it comes to mortgage charges. Remember that fees attached to a mortgage deal can add thousands to what you’ll pay overall. It is worth looking for the Annual Percentage Rate of Charge (APRC) to compare the total cost of mortgage deals.

Alongside transparency on charges, it’s also wise to look for lenders who have an excellent track record on complaints.

Research and ratings agency Fairer Finance is worth checking here. It rates mortgage lenders based on customer happiness, trust, and how swiftly they tackle complaints. It ranks Coventry Building Society and Yorkshire Building Society among the best lenders.

How can you choose the best mortgage lender for your needs?

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Mortgage lenders will target different types of mortgage borrowers. Some lenders are more likely to offer mortgages to self-employed homebuyers, or those struggling with a poor credit score, for example. Others specialise in certain types of mortgages, such as those aimed at parents wanting to give their children a leg-on onto the ladder.

Alongside finding a lender that will offer the best rate for your circumstances, you may also want to think about the length of the deals on offer.

'Most people tend to fix for either two or five years,' says Ele Clark, property editor at consumer association Which? 'Five-year deals were once significantly more expensive. But the gap has closed in recent years. With interest rates and the cost of living on the rise, you might like the security of locking in a mortgage rate for longer. This is provided you plan to stay in the property for a decent amount of time.'

Many borrowers will start their search for the best mortgage lender by establishing what rates and products are available to them from their existing lender, or the bank they hold a current account with. The idea is that applying for a mortgage might be an easier experience as an existing customer or borrower. But beware that even if a lender is particularly helpful, you’re not necessarily getting the best deal.

Should I get advice from a mortgage broker for the best mortgage lenders?

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To narrow your search, it’s worth speaking to an independent mortgage broker for a personalised service. Brokers often have access to exclusive mortgage deals that aren’t available through high street banks or building societies.

You can book a face-to-face appointment with a broker if you wish, but there are now far more options for getting advice without having to leave your own home. For example, online mortgage brokers such as Habito and Trussle simply need you to complete an online application form to receive a recommendation.

Chris Sykes, of broker Private Finance, says: 'Sometimes there will be a quirk to a case that’ll mean a specific lender is best suited, such as if someone has a low income but a lot of background wealth. Alternatively, someone may have just started on a fixed-term contract. Or they may have a business that’s profitable but they don’t draw much in dividends.'

It’s important to check if the broker you’re using searches the entire mortgage market, before signing up to a deal. A broker may charge for their services ,which may be a flat fee or a percentage of your mortgage balance.

'If you’re in a hurry, a broker should also be able to give you an indication of which lenders are likely to process your application the fastest,' adds Ele Clark from Which?