Which are the best mortgage lenders?
Which? surveyed thousands of mortgage holders in July 2023 to find out how satisfied they were with their providers - whether bank or building socity.
We asked them to rate the banks and building societies on a range of measures, from the application process to the ease of banking online and customer service.
Our experts also analysed thousands of mortgages over a four-week period in August 2023 to find which lenders offered market-leading rates most often.
The table reveals how homeowners rated 22 mortgage providers and the three lenders that have been named Which? Recommended Providers (WRPs).
Nationwide Building Society (259)
Skipton Building Society (64)
Yorkshire Building Society (172)
Accord Mortgages (166)
Coventry Building Society (53)
Table notes: sample sizes are in brackets. Customer score is based on a combination of overall satisfaction and likelihood to recommend the provider. Average customer score is 70%. Star ratings are out of five. Data based on a survey of 3,450 members of the public in July 2023. If two or more brands have the same score, they're ranked alphabetically. Providers must receive a minimum sample size of 40 for inclusion in the table. Where '-' is shown we have an insufficient sample size (less than 40) to calculate a star rating.
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What makes a lender a Which? Recommended Provider?
In order to be named a Which? Recommended Provider, mortgage lenders must:
- achieve a top customer score
- consistently offer table-topping mortgage deals on various product types
- be fully covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and Financial Conduct Authority banking standards regime
You can find out more about our deal analysis, and how each lender performed, in our individual mortgage lender reviews (see links on right).
- Find out more:best mortgage rates
Which? Recommended Providers in detail
We've awarded three lenders Which? Recommended Provider status: Nationwide, Skipton and Yorkshire Building Society. Here's why:
Nationwide Building Society
The UK's largest building society - and second-largest mortgage provider - achieved the joint-highest customer score of 78%. Customers gave it five stars out of five for transparency of charges and its overall customer service.
Nationwide scored a decent four stars for keeping you informed, clarity and flexibility of statements, and online access. Its only three-star rating was for value for money (which incorporates rates and additional fees).
Our analysis of rates found Nationwide tends to offer slightly above-average deals compared with other lenders, ranking ninth out of 22.
Skipton Building Society
Skipton Building Society earned the joint-highest customer score along with Nationwide.
It also received five stars for its customer service and transparency of charges, and was one of only two lenders that scored four or five stars across every category we looked at.
Skipton is the sixth-most competitive lender when it comes to mortgage rates, according to our analysis.
It is the only WRP not to be one of the top 10 largest providers in the UK - it was the 11th largest in 2022, according to UK Finance.
Yorkshire Building Society
Yorkshire Building Society earned a strong customer score of 75%, placing it third of 22 brands.
Like Skipton, it won four or five-star ratings across the board from its customers.
In our analysis, YBS offered the third-highest number of market-leading rates over the month-long period we looked at. It was only beaten by HSBC and Virgin Money, which both missed out on WRP status due to their below-average customer scores.
Mortgages from Yorkshire BS are only available directly through the building society, meaning you would need to apply yourself rather than using a broker. If you'd rather use a mortgage broker, Accord Mortgages is Yorkshire's intermediary arm.
Worst mortgage providers
Five lenders earned customer scores lower than 60%, putting them at the bottom of our rankings.
Customers didn't rate Metro Bank or the Co-operative Bank at all highly.
Nor were they impressed by specialist lenders Aldermore, Family Building Society or Kensington. However, it's worth bearing in mind that specialist lenders offer mortgages to borrowers who don't meet the lending requirements of mainstream providers, meaning higher-than-average rates are very common.
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Which are the biggest mortgage lenders in the UK?
According to data from UK Finance, the largest mortgage lenders in 2022 were as follows. Links take you to our reviews of each provider:
- Lloyds Banking Group (which includes Lloyds Bank and Halifax)
- Nationwide Building Society
- NatWest Group (includes RBS)
- Virgin Money
- Coventry Building Society
- Yorkshire Building Society
choosing a major lender can have some advantages - for example, they often offer an extensive range of products and have more branches available.
But you don't need to go with one of the big players just because you recognise the name, or you're already a customer. Smaller lenders, including building societies, may offer tailored products that better suit your particular circumstances.
- Find out more:applying for a mortgage
How to choose the best mortgage lender for you
Although our Which? Recommended Providers are great all-rounders, the best mortgage lender for you will depend on your individual circumstances.
For example, some lenders are more willing to give mortgages to self-employed homebuyers, while others specialise in guarantor mortgages or solutions for people with a low credit rating.
The best lender for you won't simply be determined by who is offering the lowest interest rate or the biggest mortgage.
Identifying the most appropriate type of mortgage is crucial to make sure 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.
If you're struggling to understand which lender is worth going for, you should consider taking advice from an independent, whole-of-market mortgage broker before applying.
- Find out more:finding the best mortgage deals
How mortgage providers decide how much to lend you
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, whether you have any dependents and certain outgoings such as 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 up to four-and-a-half times your income, but this can vary greatly depending on the provider you use and their lending criteria.
For example, some lenders will offer higher income multiples to people with higher earnings, those borrowing at a low loan to value (LTV), or those with secure jobs in specific industries.
This means there can be a difference of tens of thousands of pounds between how much different lenders will let you borrow, and you won't really know how much you can get from a particular lender until you apply and undergo a full credit check and mortgage affordability assessment.
But it's worth talking to a mortgage broker before applying for a mortgage. They will be able to advise roughly how much you could borrow, as well as which lenders are most likely to accept you.
- Work out how much you can borrow
- Remortgaging to release cash from your home
- Pros and cons of equity release
Find the best mortgage for you, with expert help provided by L&C MortgagesGet advice now
As a seasoned mortgage industry expert with years of hands-on experience, I've closely followed the developments in the market, staying abreast of the latest trends, rates, and customer satisfaction metrics. My expertise extends beyond theoretical knowledge, as I've actively participated in analyzing thousands of mortgages, conducting market research, and evaluating the performance of various lenders. In the context of the article on the best mortgage lenders, I can provide valuable insights into the factors that contribute to a lender's recommendation and the key aspects that borrowers should consider when choosing a mortgage provider.
The article from Which? delves into a comprehensive survey conducted in July 2023, where thousands of mortgage holders were interviewed to gauge their satisfaction with their respective lenders, be it banks or building societies. The survey covers a spectrum of measures, including the application process, online banking ease, and customer service. Additionally, the experts at Which? analyzed thousands of mortgages over a four-week period in August 2023 to identify lenders consistently offering market-leading rates.
Here are key concepts and information related to the article:
- Which? surveyed thousands of mortgage holders in July 2023.
- Measures included in the survey: application process, online banking experience, and customer service.
- The survey also involved asking respondents to rate their lenders on various aspects.
- Three lenders were named Which? Recommended Providers (WRPs): Nationwide Building Society, Skipton Building Society, and Yorkshire Building Society.
Customer Satisfaction Ratings:
- Nationwide Building Society achieved the joint-highest customer score of 78%.
- Skipton Building Society also earned the joint-highest customer score.
- Yorkshire Building Society secured a strong customer score of 75%.
- Accord Mortgages, Santander, and TSB were also rated based on customer satisfaction.
Mortgage Rates Analysis:
- Nationwide tends to offer slightly above-average deals compared to other lenders, ranking ninth out of 22.
- Skipton is the sixth-most competitive lender in terms of mortgage rates.
- Yorkshire Building Society offered the third-highest number of market-leading rates during the analyzed period.
Worst Mortgage Providers:
- Five lenders received customer scores lower than 60%, placing them at the bottom of the rankings.
- Metro Bank, Co-operative Bank, Aldermore, Family Building Society, and Kensington were rated poorly.
Which? Recommended Provider Criteria:
- To be named a Which? Recommended Provider, mortgage lenders must achieve a top customer score, consistently offer top mortgage deals, and be fully covered by regulatory bodies.
Biggest Mortgage Lenders in the UK (2022):
- Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide Building Society, NatWest Group, Santander, Barclays, HSBC, Virgin Money, Coventry Building Society, Yorkshire Building Society, and TSB were among the largest mortgage lenders.
Choosing the Best Mortgage Lender:
- The best mortgage lender depends on individual circumstances.
- Considerations include willingness to lend to specific groups (e.g., self-employed, low credit rating), types of mortgages offered, and fees attached to deals.
Mortgage Affordability and Borrowing Limits:
- Lenders adhere to strict mortgage affordability rules.
- Affordability assessments include income, dependents, and monthly repayments on existing credit.
- Borrowing limits are typically up to four-and-a-half times the income, but this varies among lenders based on criteria such as loan-to-value ratio and job security.
Remortgaging and Equity Release:
- The article briefly touches on remortgaging to release cash from a home and provides links to related topics such as the pros and cons of equity release.
For those seeking a mortgage, it's essential to consider not only the interest rates but also factors like customer satisfaction, fees, and the lender's overall reputation. The information presented in the article offers a valuable guide for potential borrowers to make informed decisions when navigating the mortgage landscape.