It’s not compulsory to use a broker, but because residential mortgages are regulated, you need to get advice to get a mortgage. That means you’ll almost always have to speak to a mortgage adviser.
If you use a broker, they’re also your adviser, and can generally advise on a wide range of mortgages – every mortgage if they’re ‘whole of market’. But if you don’t use a broker and go direct to a lender, then the mortgage adviser you talk to can only advise you on that particular lender’s mortgages.
Your adviser has to take responsibility for recommending a mortgage to you. You can always reject their advice, but if you do they’ll ask you to sign something saying you’re happy to make the choice yourself.
In terms of finding a mortgage yourself, there are a couple of starting points – though be wary of the pitfalls:Mortgage comparison sites
Mortgage tables can give you a good idea of the kinds of rates out there. But be aware: just because you find a tempting deal doesn’t mean you’re eligible for it.
The headline interest rate you see in a comparison table won’t tell you much on its own – there might be hefty fees on top, or lender requirements that take that mortgage off the table. Using only a table also means you’ll miss out on the start-to-finish guidance and back-up of a qualified broker, or the added protection of the Financial Ombudsman if things go wrong.
We've built our own mortgage comparison
tool which factors in every fee to work out the total cost to you, rather just than the initial rate.
You can also find out how much you can borrow with our mortgage calculator
.Approaching your own bank or building society
This might be a good starting point – your bank should hopefully have a good idea about you and your financial situation.
But remember, your bank will only tell you about their own mortgages – not the tens of thousands of others across the market. And each time you approach a new bank, you’ll need to dig out all your financial information each time, where an independent broker will only need your details once to search the whole market for the best deal.