Unless you’re able to pay in cash, you’ll need to obtain a mortgage loan to purchase a home.

In the past, obtaining a mortgage required a visit to a building society, but nowadays, most banks offer mortgage products as well. In the UK, there are over 100 mortgage lenders with more than 12,000 mortgage deals available.

We’ve provided reviews for the largest mortgage lenders, collectively known as the Big Six: Lloyds (including Halifax), Nationwide, Santander, RBS, Barclays, and HSBC. Together, these lenders account for the majority of mortgage lending in the UK.

In addition, specialist lenders like Kent Reliance and Fleet cater to specific customer types, while those with a poor credit history may need to consider such lenders as their best option.

Smaller lenders like Clydesdale, Virgin Money, Accord & Metro Bank, offer mortgage products similar to those of the Big Six, but on a smaller scale.

Who are the biggest mortgage lenders UK

There are over 100 mortgage lenders in the UK, but the largest providers are known as the “Big Six”. They are Lloyds (including Halifax), Nationwide, Santander, RBS, Barclays, and HSBC. Together, these lenders account for most of the mortgage lending in the UK.

According to recent market share data from the UK Finance, as of Q2 2021, the market share of these lenders is as follows:

  • Lloyds Banking Group (including Halifax): 16.9%
  • Nationwide Building Society: 13.8%
  • Santander UK: 9.3%
  • Barclays: 8.8%
  • NatWest Group (including RBS): 8.4%
  • HSBC: 6.5%

Other lenders, known as “challenger banks,” have also emerged in recent years and are gaining market share. These include companies like Virgin Money, Metro Bank, and Coventry Building Society, among others.

Speak To an Expert

Whether you’ve just had an offer accepted on a property and you’re ready to go, or you’re simply wondering how much you need to save for a deposit, it’s never too soon to reach out.

based on 152 reviews on for Strive Mortgages
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How quickly can you get a mortgage approved?

The time it takes to get a mortgage approved in the UK can vary depending on several factors, including the lender’s internal processes, the complexity of the application, the quality of the supporting documents, and the borrower’s creditworthiness.

In general, the process of getting a mortgage approved can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks, and in some cases, even longer.

If you’re applying for a mortgage with a specialist lender that deals with specific customer types, such as those with poor credit history or self-employed individuals, the mortgage approval process may take longer than with a mainstream lender. This is because specialist lenders may have more detailed and stringent criteria for assessing applications, which can take longer to review and process.

Additionally, some specialist lenders may have a smaller team of underwriters or may require more documentation from the borrower, which can also slow down the process.

Which lenders have the fastest approval times?

Halifax, Barclays, and HSBC are often cited as some of the fastest mortgage lenders in the UK for approving applications, it’s worth bearing in mind that the speed of approval can vary depending on individual circumstances.

Hence, it’s crucial to find the right lender that can cater to your specific requirements. If you have a history of bad credit, researching lenders that are more likely to consider your credit issues positively can speed up the approval process.

Instead of solely focusing on the speed of approval, it’s more practical to take steps that can accelerate the process, such as preparing your documents and working with a mortgage broker. Ultimately, it’s important to select a lender that offers the best deal that suits your needs and financial situation.

Best mortgage lender for first-time buyers

Nationwide is often considered one of the best mortgage providers for first-time buyers in the UK due to several reasons:

  • The Nationwide Helping Hand mortgage: is designed to help first-time buyers get on the property ladder. It allows borrowers to borrow up to 5.5 times their income, which can be helpful for those who are struggling to save for a deposit. The mortgage also offers a cashback option, which can be used to cover some of the upfront costs associated with buying a home.
  • Nationwide is a well-respected and established lender in the UK: they offer a range of mortgage products to suit different needs and budgets.
  • Deposit requirements: Nationwide allows first-time buyers to borrow up to 95% of the property value, meaning they only need to provide a 5% deposit. This can be a significant advantage for those who may struggle to save a larger deposit.
  • Competitive rates: Nationwide offers competitive interest rates on its mortgages, including fixed-rate and tracker mortgages.
  • Flexibility: Nationwide offers a range of flexible mortgages that cater to first-time buyers, including the ability to overpay, underpay, or take payment holidays.
  • Customer service: Nationwide has consistently scored highly in customer service surveys, which is important for first-time buyers who may have many questions and concerns about the mortgage process.
  • Education and support: Nationwide provides educational resources and support for first-time buyers, including online guides and tools, and access to mortgage advisors who can help them through the process.

Overall, Nationwide’s combination of flexible products, competitive rates, and strong customer service make it a popular choice for first-time buyers in the UK.

Best lender for self-employed mortgages

Some of the best mortgage lenders for standard self-employed mortgages include:

  • Barclays and HSBC are known to be more flexible when it comes to assessing income for self-employed borrowers. They consider the borrower’s salary and retained profit rather than just their salary and dividends, which is the standard for many other lenders. This approach can be particularly helpful for those who have fluctuating incomes or who may have more complex financial situations and perhaps have not drawn down on their profits and retained them in the business.
  • Halifax: Halifax typically offers self-employed mortgages to those who have been self-employed for a minimum of two years, however will also consider applicants with just 1 year of accounts in strong cases.
  • Santander: Santander offers self-employed mortgages to those who have been self-employed for a minimum of two years, with one year of accounts. They also have a specialist self-employed team to assist with applications.

For complex cases, some of the best mortgage lenders for self-employed mortgages in the UK include:

  • Kensington Mortgages: Kensington Mortgages specializes in providing mortgages for self-employed individuals with complex income streams, such as those with multiple businesses or irregular income patterns.
  •  Precise Mortgages: Precise Mortgages offers mortgages to self-employed individuals with complex income streams, including those with adverse credit histories or non-standard properties.
  • Aldermore Bank: Aldermore Bank offers specialist mortgages for self-employed individuals with complex income streams, such as those with multiple businesses or those who work in the gig economy.

Best mortgage lenders for bad credit 

There are several specialist lenders in the UK that offer mortgages to people with bad credit. Some of the most well-known ones include:

  • Precise Mortgages
  • The Mortgage Lender
  • Kensington Mortgages
  • Aldermore Bank
  • Magellan Homeloans
  • Pepper Money
  •  Together Money

It’s worth noting that these lenders may charge higher interest rates and require larger deposits or more stringent criteria compared to mainstream lenders. It’s important to work with a reputable mortgage broker who can help you find the best lender for your specific situation and financial needs.

Best buy to let mortgage lenders

Barclays is one of the major UK lenders and they do offer buy-to-let mortgages. Top slicing is a feature that some lenders offer that allows borrowers to use their personal income to supplement the rental income they receive from their buy-to-let property when determining whether they can afford the mortgage payments.

Barclays’ top slicing policy can be attractive for some borrowers, as it may enable them to qualify for a larger loan amount or more favourable terms. However, it’s important to note that not all borrowers will be eligible for top slicing and there may be other factors to consider when choosing a lender.

To learn more about top slicing, read our article here.

The Mortgage Works, Coventry Building Society, Birmingham Midshires and Bank of Ireland are among the UK lenders that offer buy-to-let mortgages without a minimum income requirement.

Instead of relying solely on income, these lenders may assess the borrower’s ability to afford the mortgage payments based on other factors such as the rental income generated by the property, the property’s value and location, and the borrower’s credit history.

How can Strive Mortgages help

When it comes to choosing a mortgage lender, there is no one “best” lender that suits everyone. The most suitable lender will depend on your individual needs and circumstances, such as your financial situation, credit history, the type of property you are looking to invest in, and your long-term goals.

Strive Mortgages can help you assess your options and match you with the most suitable lender for your individual circumstances. They can also help you understand the different lending criteria and terms of each lender and compare the different mortgage products available.

Ultimately, the goal is to find a buy-to-let mortgage that meets your needs and financial goals while also being affordable and sustainable in the long term.

For more information on the best mortgage lenders for you, please contact a member of the Strive team, by emailing info@strivemortgages.co.uk or call us on 01273 002697.