Questions to ask for first-time home buyers answered by Oportfolio
Getting on the property ladder can feel like an impossible task. Although still a challenge for many, there is a lot of help available for first-time buyers to get a mortgage and their first home. Here we cover some of the most frequently asked questions for first-time home buyers. You can find out more about services to help first-time buyers, or contact us for an informal, no-obligation chat with one of our friendly mortgage brokers.
How much do you need to earn to get a first-time buyer mortgage?
This is one of the most important questions first-time buyers should ask before looking to make an offer on a property. The amount you need to be earning in order to secure a first-time home buyer mortgage will depend on the cost of the property you want to buy.
Depending on the products being offered by your preferred lender or lenders, you will need to have saved between at least 5% and 20% of the value of the home you want to buy. This is called you deposit.
The more money you want to borrow, the higher your repayments will be and, consequently, the higher your income needs to be.
How can I get a first-time buyer mortgage with low income?
When considering whether to lend to you, mortgage lenders will look at – among other things – your monthly income and how affordable your monthly mortgage payments will be in the context of your other ongoing financial commitments, including your living expenses such as food, utilities and daily travel costs. They will also check your credit rating with one or more credit agencies.
Mortgage lenders will generally be willing to lend people up to around 4.5X your income, but there may be variations depending on circumstances. This is why speaking to a mortgage broker about any first-time buyer questions around mortgage affordability is so important. A mortgage broker will be able to help you to get the right loan amount that you need. However, if you are likely to struggle to secure a mortgage on your own due to low income there many be other options available to you such as shared ownership, joint borrower sole proprietor, or the Right to Buy scheme.
It is always worth talking to a professional mortgage broker to understand your options.
What are mortgage rates for first-time buyers?
Some common first-time home buyer questions that mortgage brokers are asked are “What mortgage rates can first-time home buyers get?”. Many lenders offer products for which only first-time home buyers are eligible. There are a number of different products which might be available to you and these will often depend on what ‘type’ of first-time home buyer you are.
For example, you may be buying a property and securing the loan yourself, or you may require a guarantor – often a parent – to guarantee the repayments for you.
Different mortgage products may also have a higher rate of interest than others. Remember, too, that opting for a longer fixed term that guarantees your repayments will not change is usually more expensive.
It is a good idea to get advice from a professional mortgage broker to understand the implications of each product.
What is the average deposit needed for a first-time home buyer in the UK?
The average deposit required by a first-time buyer in the UK is around 15%. So if you want to buy a house for £250,000 you would need to have saved £37,500 to put down as a deposit. However, some lenders require less (as little as 5%) and others require more, depending on how much mortgage you are eligible for.
With purchases through shared ownership, you will only need to put down a percentage of the share that you are purchasing as a deposit. For example, if you are buying a 30% share of a £300,000 flat (£90,000). You may be able to put down 10% of the share as a deposit (£9,000).
Where can I find more information about first-time buyer mortgages?
Although there are plenty of price comparison websites available to you to check rates and repayments, it’s always worth talking to a professional advisor to get a proper picture of the market and what all your options will mean for you in real world terms. We would strongly recommend that you do not do your own research and instead speak directly to a mortgage broker who can answer your first-time home buyer questions.
There are other resources available to you, as well, though, including the Money Advice Service which offers free and impartial advice on a range of subjects relating to personal finance.
Lenders also provide information about the products that are available to first-time home buyers but bear in mind this is not impartial.
Where can I get advice on first-time buyer mortgage?
To really get a sense of the full range of options that are available to you, it is always best to speak to a professional mortgage broker who will give you information and guidance that is tailored to your own specific financial situation.
A professional advisor will also have access to a range of products from different lenders, ensuring you get a wide choice of mortgages to choose from. For example, Oportfolio as part of the PRIMIS mortgage network has access to over 90 different mortgage lenders and thousands of mortgage products.
What do most first-time buyers get wrong about their mortgage?
There are a few mistakes that first-time buyers commonly make when they start the process of trying to get a mortgage approved.
The most common mistake is not having any credit history.
Other mistakes include having bank statements or utility bills registered to incorrect addresses and not saving enough money to put down a deposit (you will normally need between 5% and 20% of the property purchase price, depending on the lender).
What are the biggest first-time home buyer mistakes and how can you avoid them?
Not having any credit history is one of the most common mistakes first-time buyers make. Your credit history is one of the key things a mortgage lender will check to be confident you will meet your mortgage repayment commitment.
You can avoid this by taking out a credit card and ensuring you pay the balance each month or joining subscription services like Netflix to create a history of monthly payments.
First-time buyers often also have bank statements or utility bills that are not registered to the correct address (for example, a bank account still registered to the parents’ address or utility bills from university days) and this can derail or seriously delay a mortgage decision.
How do mortgages work in the UK for first-time buyers?
In practical terms, all mortgages work in the same way, regardless of the borrower’s status – a lender advances you a proportion of the purchase price (usually between 80% and 95%) and you make monthly payments over a period of years until the loan is repaid.
Some first-time home buyer mortgages have other elements in place to guarantee the loan or help with funding – guarantor mortgages where a parent or other individual guarantees the repayments is one example– but ultimately, all mortgages require you to meet a monthly payment commitment until the loan is paid back to the bank in full.
Do first-time home buyers need a deposit?
Yes, you will almost certainly need to find a deposit of between 5% and 20% to be accepted for a mortgage with a high street mortgage provider. Typically, you should budget on finding at least 15% of the purchase price as a deposit, since 90% and 95% mortgages are increasingly hard to find and come with higher repayments.
What is needed for a first-time home buyer to qualify for a great mortgage rate?
Mortgage rates have increased by quite a lot over the last few years due to various economic factors. That means that generally most mortgages have become more expensive per month. To have the best chance of getting a top mortgage rate you will need to have a good credit history, sufficient income to make your mortgage payments affordable in relation to your existing financial commitments, and a deposit – the larger the better.
Affordability is always going to be a mortgage provider’s key concern, so that should be the number one priority. After that, make sure you have no unnecessary debt and where you do have debt, show you are taking a responsible approach to dealing with it (for example, consider paying more than the monthly minimum).
What is the best advice you would give to first-time homebuyers?
Optimise your mortgage affordability by trying to pay down or pay off any debt. This will have a positive effect on your credit rating and will also give your lender confidence that you take a responsible approach to your financial commitments.
You should also start saving for a deposit early. Your mortgage provider will require a minimum of 5% of the purchase price as your deposit – and in reality, many lenders ask for 15% or 20%. The higher your deposit, the lower the loan to value (LTV) you’ll need from your lender – and this will also improve affordability.
What mortgages can a first-time home buyer get?
There are a number of mortgage products on the market for first-time home buyers. These include standard and fixed rate mortgages that would be available to all buyers (and many lenders also offer fixed products that only first-time home buyers are eligible for), guarantor mortgages where someone – usually a parent or other family member – guarantees to make the mortgage repayments on your behalf if you aren’t able to, as well as Right to Buy and other schemes that offer additional financial support and/or incentives to first-time home buyers.
How does getting a mortgage work if you’re a first-time buyer?
In practical terms, a first-time home buyer mortgage works like any other mortgage product – a lender advances a percentage of the cost of buying your property (usually between 80% and 95%, unless you have a very large deposit) and the borrower pays back the loan and the interest it attracts over a period of years.
Sometimes, first-time home buyers require a little extra help and support, so some lenders offer guarantor mortgages, where another person- usually a parent or family member – underwrites the monthly repayments in the event that the borrower is unable to meet the commitment.
There are also other schemes – such as shared ownership and Government-backed Right to Buy – that support first-time buyers in getting on the housing ladder.
What deposit is needed for a first-time buyer mortgage?
Typically, lenders will expect you to put up a minimum of anything between 5% and 20% of the purchase price as a deposit. In reality, although it is still possible to find lenders who will accept a 5% or 10% deposit and lend you the balance, most of the main banks and building societies require you to put down 15% or 20% before they will approve your application.
If you can save the entire deposit yourself, this will open up a lot more mortgage options for you. However there are plenty of high street banks that will also allow family gifted deposits, where a family member will give you the deposit as a non refundable gift. You can also do a combination of the two.
How to find your first-time buyer mortgage?
Obviously, one way to find a first-time home buyer mortgage is to search on price comparison websites or speak to your own bank, another High Street bank or a building society.
The problem with this approach is that unless you know the mortgage market well, it’s not always to make sense of the differences between products listed on price comparison sites, and banks and buildings societies will only offer you information about their own products.
It’s always a good idea to speak to a professional mortgage broker who will have an overview of the market as a whole and will be able to recommend products that suit your specific financial needs. if you have questions to ask as a first-time home buyer, speaking to an advisor is always best.
How long should I fix my mortgage for if I’m a first-time home buyer?
It’s always tricky to know how long you should fix your mortgage for. Typically, the 2- and 5-year fixed mortgages are reasonably common.
A professional advisor will be able to guide you on the best approach based on your specific financial situation.
More generally, though, one good rule of thumb is to look at the economic climate. If the base interest rate set by the Bank of England is rising or likely to rise, it may be better to pay a slightly higher monthly amount to give you certainty over your outgoings for longer.
If the base rate is falling or likely to fall, then you may want to have the flexibility of a shorter deal that will allow you to change lenders sooner and take advantage of a better deal.
How to find your first mortgage?
We would always recommend you speak to a professional advisor when you are making any significant financial decision.
The benefit of this is that a qualified advisor has access to a wealth of product information and will be able to give you advice and guidance that reflects your existing circumstances whilst also taking into account your future plans.
You can choose a mortgage based on what’s available on price comparison websites or the mortgage products your bank is offering – but these won’t always be the most suitable deals for you personally. Mortgage questions for first-time buyers are very important, much more important that people who are experienced property buyers, and ever one should be carefully discussed with a qualified mortgage broker.
What type of first-time home buyer mortgage should I choose?
The type of first-time home buyer mortgage you choose will depend on your circumstances and your mortgage broker’s recommendations. If you have a decent deposit of between 5% and 20%, a good credit score and a healthy income, you will have a wider choice of products available to you.
However, many first-time buyers struggle to get onto the housing ladder because they either have few if any savings or they don’t earn enough in salary just yet to meet lenders’ affordability checks.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t secure a mortgage – but it does mean you may have to consider products like a guarantor mortgage, which would mean someone else – normally a family member – underwriting your monthly repayments if you were unable to afford them.
It’s always worth talking to a professional mortgage broker to understand the options that are available to you.
Can I afford a mortgage?
Whether you can afford a mortgage depends on how much you are borrowing – and it’s worth bearing in mind that affordability is about balancing your mortgage repayments with your ongoing commitments and your income.
As a first step, use an online mortgage calculator to work out if you’re likely to be able to afford the mortgage you want – and then talk to a professional advisor to get a more detailed picture of what’s possible.
What are first-time home buyer mortgage affordability checks?
First-time home buyer mortgage affordability checks are designed to see if you can afford the repayments for the amount you want to borrow in order to buy your home.
Your lender will look at your income and ask you to provide details of all of your outgoings, including credit card payments and living expenses, to work out whether you’re able to meet the mortgage commitment on an ongoing basis – or whether you’re stretching yourself too thin. This is to make sure that you can afford the loan and won’t fall behind on payments in the future.
What first-time buyer mortgage fees will I have to pay?
Mortgage arrangement fees vary from lender to lender. These are often added to your loan and paid off through your monthly repayment. Some lenders also apply other fees – for example, legal costs – so it’s always worth checking the fee tariff carefully before deciding which lender to choose. Mortgage product fees can vary but are generally between £900 and £2000. Legal costs also vary and can be a similar amount. Many products come with no arrangement fees and some with free legals, so you can discuss these with your mortgage broker.
A professional mortgage advisor can help you to make sense of the various products and fees – but remember they will also charge a fee for their services. The benefit of using a professional advisor is that they will manage your application from start to finish and will ensure it has the best possible chance of success.
Do I need a big deposit for a first-time mortgage?
The more money you can put down as a deposit, the lower your mortgage repayments will be (or the sooner you can pay off your loan). So having a larger deposit is preferable.
However, you don’t have to have a big deposit – most lenders require 15% to 20% of the purchase price (though you can find some lenders who will accept 5% or 10%) – but the more you can offer up front, the better off you will be financially in the long term.
Will lenders give a first-time buyer mortgage on any property?
There is no restriction on the type of residential property you can purchase as a first-time home buyer.
Just remember that the bigger the property, higher the purchase price is ,likely to be and the more cash you will need to save for a deposit.
Commercial and buy to let properties are a different matter and you should seek advice from a professional mortgage broker if you are planning to buy a home you don’t intend to live in yourself as a first-time buyer, as most lenders will not accept this.
How to find the best mortgages for first-time buyers?
We would always recommend talking to a professional mortgage broker to find the right mortgage product. As a specialist, a professional mortgage advisor or broker will be able to talk you through current policies, rules and tax issues and will also have access to a wider choice of mortgage products.
If you plan to find a mortgage by yourself, be aware that banks and building societies do not offer impartial advice and products you find on price comparison websites need to be fully researched so you understand the advantages and disadvantages and are aware of any hidden fees or special conditions. They often have long wait times and getting an appointment can be very difficult. This can be an issue if you have tight deadlines to meet with your house purchase.
How does a mortgage rate work?
Because they are lending money to you, a bank will charge interest on the loan every month that you have it until it is paid back. Mortgage rates are influenced by the Bank of England base rate but are not the same as the Bank of England base rate. Most lenders offer a variety of rates – all above the base rate – that relate to different products.
Very generally, speaking there are broadly three types of interest rate that you can choose from: fixed rates, which stay the same for a fixed period of time (usually between one and 10 years), tracker rates which are usually above the base rate but track changes in the base rate (so if the base rate goes up or down by 0.25%, for example, your mortgage rate will change by the same amount and the lender’s standard variable rate (SVR) which is almost always the highest of the three.
What happens after my first-time buyer mortgage offer is issued?
Once your application has been submitted by your advisor and approved by the lender, you will be issued a mortgage offer. Once you have received your formal mortgage offer, it is usually valid for a certain period of time (often between three and six months) by which time you need to have completed your purchase. If you mortgage offer is going to expire, due to delays with the purchase, your mortgage broker can often extend the offer for a further three to six months.
Some lenders may also require you to have a survey carried out on the property you are buying, as a condition of the offer, in order to confirm it is structurally sound.
How are first-time buyer mortgages different?
Broadly speaking, first-time home buyer mortgages aren’t fundamentally different in terms of how they work – a mortgage provider lends you an agreed sum of money which you then repay over a period of years. During this time, the mortgage lender has a charge on your house, which simply means they have the power to repossess it if you fail to keep up your mortgage payments.
First-time mortgages usually differ either by type (some first-time buyers buy their property using guarantor mortgages, where someone else guarantees the monthly repayments, or under a shared ownership agreement) or in the preferential rates that are sometimes offered by lenders to encourage new buyers onto the housing ladder.
Should I add the cost of product fees to my first-time buyer mortgage?
If you have the money available to pay the fees without including them in the mortgage, that is a cheaper way to deal with them as you won’t pay interest on that additional element of the loan.
Many first-time home buyers work to tight budgets and so for some people it is more cost effective in the short term to include the lender fees as part of the overall loan.
You mortgage advisor will be there to help you to determine what makes more financial sense for you.
How to prepare for your first-time home buyer mortgage application?
Before you begin a mortgage application, you can prepare by getting your financial house in order.
Ensure you’re able to offer the minimum deposit required by the lender you plan to choose (usually between 5% and 20% of the purchase price).
Pay down or pay off existing debt.
If you’re likely to be carrying debt at the time you submit your application, try to pay more than the minimum amount required by your creditors each month.
Take steps to improve your credit history – and if you don’t have any credit history, try to create one by joining subscription services or taking out a credit card (but remember to pay off the balance each month!)
Ensure all your bank statements and utility bills are registered to your current address.
How does a fixed rate first-time buyer mortgage work?
A fixed mortgage rate for first-time home buyers works by guaranteeing your monthly payments will be the same each month for the period during which the loan is fixed, regardless of whether the Bank of England base rate goes up or down.
You can win and lose with a fixed rate mortgage – winning when the base rate goes up, losing when it falls below your fixed rate. But it has the advantage of giving you the peace of mind of knowing exactly how much your mortgage will cost for a certain number of years. So that you don’t get any nasty surprises!
What happens at the end of my first-time home buyer mortgage deal?
Like all mortgage deals, your first-time home buyer mortgage deal will come to an end after a certain period of time.
If you do nothing, your loan will move to the lender’s standard variable rate (SVR). This is usually the most expensive way to borrow money from that lender. For example, your fixed rate might be 5% but the SVR could be 8%. So it is preferable to try and avoid the SVR.
You do have a number of options – and you should act before your current deal ends. Either negotiate with your lender through your mortgage broker to move you to a new fixed rate (they should do this without you having to go through a new application). This is called a product transfer. Remortgage with another lender (this will require a full application) or stay on the SVR (this is highly unlikely to be the best option).
How to improve your chances of getting a first-time buyer mortgage?
You can improve your chances of getting your first-time buyer mortgage by making sure there are no nasty surprises in your financial and credit history.
Your lender will research your finances thoroughly as part of what is known as an affordability test. They will want to see that you have a responsible attitude to any existing debt, that your existing debt is not excessive, that there is plenty of daylight between your income and your existing financial commitments and that your credit history is sound.
You can improve that picture by taking simple steps to reduce or pay off you debt, overpay on monthly minimums and ensure you pay off balances where you can.
How much can I borrow as a first-time home buyer?
How much you can borrow as a first-time home buyer depends on how much deposit you have to put down, the purchase price of your property and your income.
A mortgage calculator can help you to see what might be possible – but it’s only a rule of thumb as it won’t factor in any of the variables that make up the affordability test your lender will carry out.
You can find the Oportfolio mortgage calculator on this page.
How to improve your chances to get a first-time buyer mortgage?
You can improve your chances of having an application for a first-time home buyer mortgage approved by taking steps to reduce or pay off existing commitments and debt and by making sure there are no black flags in your credit history.
Most simple credit history checks are free (but you would have to pay for the detailed information on your credit file). Most lenders will check your history with one of the big credit agencies like Equifax or Experian.
You can also help your case by making sure you’ve got a decent deposit to put down on your purchase – most lenders will expect you to put down between 5% and 20% of the purchase price, but typically it will be between 15% and 20%.
What are the different types of first-time home buyer mortgages?
First-time buyers have a number of options when it comes to choosing a mortgage product. Like all buyers, first-time buyers can choose standard and fixed rate mortgages, but you may also find special products that are designed specifically for first-time buyers.
These include guarantor mortgages where another person will guarantee to make your monthly payment s for you if you can’t afford to. This is usually a parent or other family member.
There are also special government-backed schemes like Right to Buy that provide additional financial support and/or incentives to first-time buyers.
What is the difference between a fixed rate and a variable rate mortgage?
A fixed rate mortgage is a mortgage where the interest you pay on your loan – and therefore the repayments you make each month – are fixed for a certain period of time (usually between one and 10 years), regardless of whether the base rate goes up or down.
Fixed interest mortgages give budgeting certainty for the period of the deal.
Standard variable rate mortgages are loans where the interest rate will fall or rise depending on what is happening to the Bank of England base rate. It rarely makes financial sense to be on a standard rate mortgage, unless you only have a few months of the loan remaining.
What is a fixed rate first-time buyers’ mortgage?
A fixed rate first-time buyer’s mortgage is a loan where the interest is set at a certain level for the lifetime of the deal. Most fixed rate periods are for between one and 10 years
A fixed rate means your repayments will be unaffected by changes in the economy and their impact on the Bank of England base rate.
What is a variable rate first-time buyers’ mortgage?
A standard variable rate first-time buyers’ mortgage (SVR) is a loan where the interest rate applied to your mortgage moves up or down to reflect changes in the Bank of England base rate.
Unless you have only a matter of months until the end of your mortgage, it rarely makes sense to be on your lender’s SVR, and it’s worth bearing in mind that although lenders are always likely to raise interest rates in line with the base rate, they rarely pass on 100% of the benefit when the base rate goes down!
What is an offset mortgage?
An offset mortgage ‘offsets’ the amount of mortgage interest you’re charged by linking savings to your mortgage account with a savings account that you set up with the same lender.
This type of mortgage essentially looks at your savings as having ‘paid’ an equivalent proportion of your overall mortgage loan. You can still access the savings if you need to – but if you take money out, your interest payments go up, and vice versa.
Is an offset mortgage suitable for first-time home buyers?
If you have cash sitting in an account that is earning little or no interest, then an offset mortgage may be a good solution for you, as the amount you save in mortgage interest will usually be higher than the interest that money will earn in a savings account.
It is worth talking to a professional mortgage broker to look at the pros and cons of offset mortgages to decide whether this type of mortgage is suited to you in the context of your immediate and long-term plans.
How much deposit will I need as a first-time buyer?
The amount you’ll need for a deposit on your first home varies from lender to lender. But typically lenders will require you to put between 5% and 20% of the property purchase price down as a deposit.
In reality, whilst it’s still possible to find lenders who will accept a deposit of between 5% and 10%, most mortgage providers now ask borrowers to put up 15%-20%.
How does an Agreement in Principle differ from a mortgage offer?
Contrary to what many people believe, an Agreement in Principle and a mortgage offer are not the same thing.
An Agreement in Principle is exactly that – an indication that, based on fundamental information you have provided to a lender about your income and expenditure, they would be prepared to lend you the amount of money you need to buy a particular property subject to a full application.
Often an Agreement in Principle will be enough to allow you to put an offer in on a property and secure a sale. An estate agent will likely need to see this on behalf of the seller.
A mortgage offer is a formal agreement that the lender will definitely provide the money for you to make the purchase. A mortgage offer is based on much more detailed affordability checks, provision of documentary evidence of income and credit agency checks. Your mortgage broker will submit a full mortgage application for you and ensure that your offer is issued.
Which schemes are available to help first-time buyers?
There are at least schemes available right now to support first-time home buyers. The Right to Buy scheme allows eligible council and housing association tenants to buy their properties at a discounted price.
And the Shared Ownership scheme allows people to part buy and part rent their home from the property owner. The properties are usually newly-built and owned by housing associations. You will get a mortgage on your share and pay this per month and also pay rent per month on the share that you don’t own.
What is a loan to value ratio (LTV)?
The loan to value ratio, or LTV, is the percentage of a property purchase price that your mortgage provider will lend you. Typically, most lenders require borrowers to put up 15% to 20% of the purchase price as a deposit, giving an LTV ratio of 80%-85%. However it is possible to put down 5% deposit and get a 95% LTV mortgage.
What insurance will I need?
You will certainly need to have buildings and contents insurance when you buy your first – or any other – home. This is to ensure that if your property is damaged for any reason, the cost of repairs are covered by your policy, protecting not only your financial interest in the property but also your mortgage lender’s.
Be sure to read the small print to understand what exclusions apply for any policy you may be considering as certain events will not be covered under a standard policy, and remember that buy to let properties require specialist landlord insurance.
When getting a first-time buyer mortgage do I need life cover?
Not all lenders will insist you take out life cover to protect your mortgage – although some do – but it’s certainly advisable to do so.
Having life cover ensures that in the event of your death or a terminal diagnosis you and/or your family will receive a tax-free lump sum pay out that will cover the remaining loan.
It is recommended that you speak to a professional advisor to discuss your specific needs before taking out any sort of life or personal finance insurance. As part of Oportfolio’s services, we will discuss all forms of insurance with you too.
When getting a first-time home buyer mortgage do I need critical illness cover?
Critical illness cover – or cancer cover as it is sometimes known, will pay out a lump sum upon diagnosis of a critical illness like cancer. This tax-free sum can be used for any purpose and will ensure that if you choose to you are able to either pay off your mortgage or meet your mortgage repayments even if you are unable to work. It is essential to have some form of cover in place if you are getting a mortgage, just in case.
Does shopping around for mortgage rates hurt your credit score?
Shopping around for mortgage rates does not impact on your credit score at all.
However, if you make a formal application for a mortgage and are rejected, this will be registered on your credit file and may affect your credit score, potentially making it harder to obtain credit in the future.
You can check your credit score without affecting it by using one of the many credit reference agencies operating in the UK. Equifax and Experian are the two largest and are the primary sources of credit references used by most credit brokers.
Can I negotiate a first-time buyer mortgage rate?
Whilst you can negotiate as much as you like on the purchase price of a property, it is not possible to negotiate a mortgage rate directly with a reputable lender.
Mortgage products tend to be fixed for the market and are available for all borrowers who meet their criteria. These products may be withdrawn by the lender and replaced by new products with different incentives or interest rates.
It is worth speaking to a professional advisor to get advice about your options when you’re looking for a first-time home buyer mortgage. Your mortgage advisor, although unable to negotiate a rate with a bank, will be able to help you find the product that is available for your circumstances.