First-time buyer mortgages

Getting your first mortgage can be an exciting but sometimes overwhelming experience. Rest assured. Our expert brokers can help guide you through purchasing your first home.

Average March 2024 mortgage rates issued to first-time buyers were:

  • Fixed rates: 4.94% - up from 4.81% in February 2024

  • Tracker rates: 5.91% - down from 5.62% in February 2024

Expert commentary from our Mortgage Lead, Jonathan Bone:

With inflation proving sticky and the Bank of England maintaining the base rate at 5.25% in February, average mortgage rates have stagnated and now look to potentially be on the rise for first-time buyers. Remember, mortgage offers are valid for up to 6 months, and you can switch to a more suitable rate if one becomes available in that time.

These are average mortgage rates only. Mortgage rates issued will ultimately vary depending on your loan-to-value (how much deposit you put down).

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Different types of mortgages for first-time buyers

Before applying for your first mortgage, you’ll need to think about the type of mortgage that best suits your needs. Here’s an overview of the types of mortgages available to first-time buyers:

Fixed-rate mortgages are one of the most popular types of mortgage. They allow you to fix your interest rate for a specified period, typically two, three or five years, though some lenders will allow you to fix it for up to 10 years.

Fixed-rate mortgages can help you to budget because your mortgage payments will remain the same for your fixed period. During this fixed period, you’ll be protected from the effects of interest rate rises, but you won’t benefit if interest rates fall.

Variable-rate mortgages allow your mortgage lender to change the interest rate throughout your mortgage term. All lenders will have a standard variable rate (SVR) that fluctuates over time based on changes in the market; as interest rates rise you’ll be charged more interest, but when they fall, you’ll be charged less.

Most borrowers tend to avoid SVR mortgages because they often charge higher rates of interest than other mortgage types.

Tracker mortgages follow the Bank of England base rate. This means that if the base rate rises, so will your monthly interest, but if it falls, your interest rate will follow suit.

Typically, a tracker mortgage will be base rate plus a certain percentage, for example, base rate plus 1%. In this case, if the BofE base rate were 4%, your interest rate would be 5%. 

Discounted variable rate mortgages link to the mortgage lender's standard variable rate (SVR). They have a discounted rate for a certain amount of time, usually between 2 and 5 years.

These mortgages usually have the lowest interest rates and smallest monthly repayments, which can be appealing to first-time buyers. However, interest rates and monthly repayments can go up or down at any time so do bear this in mind.

Discover how lenders can support you with more complex mortgage requirements, such as being self-employed or wanting to use a family member as a guarantor. There are many unique and common ways to help first-time buyers get onto the property ladder. Here, you'll learn all about specialist mortgages.

Fixed-rate mortgages

Standard variable rate mortgages

Tracker mortgages

Discounted variable rate mortgages

Specialist mortgages

Fixed-rate mortgages are one of the most popular types of mortgage. They allow you to fix your interest rate for a specified period, typically two, three or five years, though some lenders will allow you to fix it for up to 10 years.

Fixed-rate mortgages can help you to budget because your mortgage payments will remain the same for your fixed period. During this fixed period, you’ll be protected from the effects of interest rate rises, but you won’t benefit if interest rates fall.

How much can I borrow as a first-time buyer?

Historically, lenders often determined mortgage borrowing capacity by applying a simple multiple of an individual's salary, such as 3 times or 4 times their annual income. Nowadays, this can work as an estimate when you’re in the early stages of house hunting, in reality, lenders will look at a number of aspects to determine how much you can afford to borrow.

Lenders will assess how much you can borrow based on your personal circumstances, like how much you’ll be able to repay each month and how you’ve handled credit in the past; this helps them to understand how much of a risk lending to you will pose to them. When making a decision about how much their willing to lend you, a mortgage lender will look at things like:

  • Your monthly income

  • Your monthly outgoings (including how your outgoings will increase when you move into your new property; for example, if you purchase a leasehold property, you may need to pay a service charge or ground rent).

  • Your age and how long you can spread the mortgage over

  • Your employment status and the type of job you have

  • Your credit history

When determining how much you can afford to borrow, a mortgage lender will also need to consider whether you’ll still be able to afford your monthly mortgage payments if interest rates were to rise in the future. 

It’s a good idea to use a first-time buyer mortgage calculator to get a clearer picture of how much you’re likely to be able to borrow. 

Our expert says…

“Navigating through the process of buying your first home and applying for your first mortgage can be confusing. Do your research, see what government schemes are available to help you and speak to one of our team who can help you with advice based on your own circumstances.”

- Jon Bone \ CeMAP-qualified mortgage adviser

First-time buyer homeownership schemes

Shared ownership

  • Buy part of your home and pay rent on the rest

  • How to apply for shared ownership

  • Who shared ownership is best suited for

Lifetime ISA

  • Who can open a Lifetime ISA

  • How much can you pay into a Lifetime ISA

  • Lifetime ISA providers explained

Homeownership schemes

  • Deposit Unlock

  • Lifetime ISA

  • Mortgage Guarantee Scheme

  • ...and more

Follow these steps when buying your first home

Buying your first home is a significant milestone and applying for your first mortgage can feel overwhelming. To help, we've broken down the process into five broad steps as your starting point.

Before you start searching for your first home, you need to determine how much you can afford to borrow. Take into account how much money you have saved for a mortgage deposit and consider how much you can afford on your monthly repayments. You will also need to factor in how much interest you’ll need to pay, and be prepared for interest rates to rise in the future, which could increase your monthly repayments. 

You can use our mortgage calculator to get an idea of how much you’ll be able to borrow and calculate how much your monthly repayments could be. 

Remember, when working out your house-buying budget, you’ll need to factor in other costs associated with buying a house, such as solicitors fees, surveys, arrangement fees and stamp duty.

The next step is to get your mortgage in principle (MIP). This document indicates how much you’ll be able to borrow. You’ll need to show this to the estate agent as part of your proof of funds when you put an offer in on a property. 

Keep in mind that a Mortgage in Principle (MIP) does not guarantee that you will be approved for a mortgage for the exact amount stated in the document. When searching for properties, it's advisable to consider homes that do not exceed the maximum borrowing limit indicated by your MIP. This approach can provide you with more flexibility and ensure that you stay within a comfortable financial range.

Once you’ve got your MIP, it’s time to start house hunting. When you’ve found your perfect property within your budget, it’s time to make an offer. The estate agent will ask you for proof of funds before they can officially accept your offer. Proof of funds for first-time home buyers will typically include evidence of your deposit (such as a bank statement or screenshot showing the balance in the account you’ve got the deposit in) and your mortgage in principle. These amounts must add up to at least the amount you’ve offered for the property.

After your offer on a property has been accepted, it's time to proceed with the mortgage application. You have the option to apply directly with a lender or seek assistance from a mortgage broker. When applying, take thoughtful consideration of the mortgage type and term that best suits your needs. These choices will have a direct impact on the cost of your monthly mortgage payments.

Once you’ve successfully taken out a mortgage and bought your first home, it’s time to start making your monthly mortgage payments. 

It's important to keep in mind that if you have a fixed-rate mortgage, once the initial mortgage period expires, you will automatically transition to your lender's standard variable rate. To avoid this, it's recommended to consider remortgaging before the initial period ends. This allows you to explore new mortgage options and potentially secure a better rate.

Budgeting solutions for first-time buyers

Parental support

  • Gifted deposits

  • Innovative mortgage solutions

  • And more!

Homeownership schemes

  • Deposit Unlock

  • Lifetime ISA

  • Mortgage Guarantee Scheme

  • ...and more

Mortgage in Principle

A Mortgage in Principle shows estate agents you're a serious buyer. It shows what property price you can afford, does not impact your credit score, and is completely free.


Below is a series of frequently asked questions tailored to first-time buyers interested in learning more about mortgages and homeownership.

Buying your first home is exciting and stressful all at the same time, but being a first-time buyer does come with its perks, which is why the UK government and lenders have a strict definition of who qualifies as a first-time buyer. 

HMRC defines a first-time buyer as “an individual or individuals who have never owned an interest in a residential property in the United Kingdom or anywhere else in the world and who intends to occupy the property as their main residence.”

But what does this mean? Having never owned an interest in a residential property simply means that you’ve never owned a house, flat or other residential property. This includes owning part of a property. For example, if you previously owned 50% of a property with a partner or any share of a property as part of a group. If you’re applying for a joint mortgage, you’ll both need to be first-time buyers to benefit from any first-time buyer initiatives.

Some lenders will have a more relaxed definition of first-time buyers to qualify for their first-time mortgage products, such as not having owned a property for a certain period of time. Remember, though, qualifying for a first-time buyer mortgage product won’t mean that you qualify as a first-time buyer for things like stamp duty if you have previously owned a property. 

The majority of mortgage lenders will require you to have at least a 5% deposit for a first-time buyer mortgage. This means you’ll need to have at least 5% of the price of the property you’re looking to purchase saved before you apply for a mortgage. For instance, if you’re looking to buy a £250,000 property, you’ll need to have at least £12,500 saved as a deposit. 

When looking to buy your first home, the cost of the house and saving for your deposit aren’t the only costs you need to consider. Buying a house comes with a range of different fees. These can include:

  • Solicitors fees

  • Mortgage broker fees

  • Survey costs

  • Stamp duty

  • Valuation fees

  • Arrangement & booking fees

You’ll need to budget for these costs when looking to buy your first home, as well as any costs associated with moving, such as van hire or a removal company.

In 2017, the government introduced a stamp duty land tax (SDLT) relief for first-time buyers. If the property you’re purchasing is less than £425,000, you’ll pay no stamp duty. 

If you’re a first-time buyer in the UK purchasing a property for over £625,000, you can’t claim the relief. If your property price is between £425,001 and £625,000, you’ll pay 5% in SDLT on the amount over £425,001.

Let’s look at an example; let's say you’re a first-time home buyer purchasing a property for £550,000. You won’t pay stamp duty on the first £425,000, but you’ll need to pay 5% SDLT on the remaining £125,000, which would be £6,250.

Generally speaking, the first-time buyer mortgage rates on offer will be the same as those on standard mortgages. However, it’s common for first-time buyers to receive added incentives or are able to benefit from various first-time buyer schemes designed to help them get onto the property ladder. 

There may be lenders offering 100% mortgages, however, these are likely to have additional conditions to minimise the risk to the lender. Springboard mortgages and guarantor mortgages are the most common types of no-deposit mortgages.

Mortgages with longer terms come with their advantages, such as lower monthly payments. However, longer mortgage terms do also come with disadvantages, such as taking longer to be mortgage free as well as being overall more expensive than shorter-term mortgages. 

Whether or not a longer-term mortgage is right for you will depend on your circumstances, and you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons. 

LTV stands for loan-to-value ratio, and it’s the ratio of how much you’ve borrowed through your mortgage to the value of your property. For example, if you bought a home worth £300,000 with a deposit of £30,000 and a mortgage of £270,000, your LTV would be 90%. As you repay your mortgage, or the value of your property increases, your LTV will decrease. 

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Important info & marketing claims

You may have to pay an early repayment charge to your existing lender if you remortgage. Your savings will depend on personal circumstances.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

*The savings figure of £406 is based on remortgage customers in February 2024. Read more on our marketing claims page.

We can't always guarantee we will be able to help you with your mortgage application depending on your credit history and circumstances.

Average mortgage decision and approval times are based on's historic data for lenders we submit applications to.

Tracker rates are identified after comparing over 12,000 mortgage products from over 100 mortgage lenders.

As of January 2023, has access to over 100 lenders. This number is subject to change.

For buy-to-let landlords, there's no guarantee that it will be possible to arrange continuous letting of a property, nor that rental income will be sufficient to meet the cost of the mortgage.