Whether we’re looking for a new phone, a new car, or a new mortgage, taking advice can make the decision a lot easier. And for reliable, independent mortgage advice, the key is to find a good mortgage broker.
Here, we’ve got everything you need to know about working with a mortgage broker. Let’s run through how they can help you, how much they cost and how to choose the right one.
Where can you get independent mortgage advice?
You can get independent mortgage advice from a mortgage broker (like Habito). A mortgage broker is a person or company that has access to a wide range of mortgages from different lenders (often banks or building societies).
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a first-time buyer, wanting to remortgage, or investing in buy-to-let – whatever the reason for your mortgage, a broker can help you out.
It works like this:
- You tell the broker a bit about your financial situation and the size of mortgage you need to be able to buy your new home.
- They look through the mortgage deals available to them and find one (or several) that would work well for you. Plus, they’ll talk you through the key information about each deal.
- Once you’ve chosen a deal, many brokers will also help you with the mortgage application and chase the lender for you – until you get your mortgage offer and the deal is signed and sealed.
Aside from a mortgage broker, you can also get advice from a mortgage adviser attached to a particular bank or building society. But in that case, the advice won’t be “independent” because the adviser will only be able to recommend deals from that specific mortgage lender.
Still, some lenders offer mortgage deals that are only available to existing customers (not via a broker). So it might be worth seeing what kind of deals your bank can offer you, too.
What are the benefits of working with a mortgage broker?
Of course, providing independent mortgage advice is a big part of a mortgage broker’s job. But that’s not all. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of working with a mortgage broker:
- It beats going it alone: You save the time and hard work you would have put in sifting through mortgages yourself. Plus, a broker has the expertise to find you the best mortgage for your circumstances – the right size loan, on attractive terms, with the best interest rates – meaning you can save money.
- Improves your chances of having your application approved: Lenders have specific criteria that you’ll need to fulfil before they grant your mortgage. A broker should ask for info about your finances so they can point you towards a lender who’s likely to accept you. This is especially helpful if, for example, you only have a small deposit, you haven’t been in your job long, or you’ve had credit issues in the past.
- Gives you a helping hand with paperwork: Often, a broker will guide you through filling in the paperwork for your mortgage application and make sure you provide copies of all the correct documents. This makes for less stress and (hopefully) a speedier application process.
- Helps you fully understand your mortgage: Your broker should talk you through the ins and outs of the mortgage they recommend to you so you’re clear about all the costs and conditions involved. They should also give you a “mortgage illustration document”, which breaks down the key details of the mortgage.
- Someone to fight your corner: The broker will liaise with the lender on your behalf (and give them a nudge if the application seems to be taking too long).
Not all mortgage brokers will offer the same services, so before you commit to working with a particular broker, just check what kind of help you can expect from them.
How much does independent mortgage advice cost?
Different mortgage brokers have different ways of charging for their advice. But you should always be told in advance about any fees you’ll need to pay.
Some brokers (like Habito) offer their services to you, the customer, for free. (Yep, that’s 100% free). They can do that because they earn a commission from the lender once your mortgage is set up. Usually, it’s about 0.3% to 0.5% of the value of the mortgage.
Other brokers earn a commission and charge you a fee for their advice. This might be a flat rate (a typical fee could be around £300–£600), an hourly rate, or a percentage of the amount you borrow. You might also have the option to add the fee to your mortgage loan, but then you’d pay interest on that as well as your mortgage.
How do you choose a mortgage broker?
The best time to choose a mortgage broker is right at the start of your mortgage search. Get them on the case, and then you’ve got more time and energy to sort out the other things on your home-buying checklist.
So, how to decide? Here are our tips:
- Check they’re registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA): You can check whether a broker is on the FCA’s Financial Services Register here. When you get advice from a regulated company, you get extra protection. So if you’re given the wrong advice and end up with the wrong mortgage, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
- Go for a whole-of-market broker: A whole-of-market broker (like Habito) has access to the largest possible number of mortgages across the mortgage market, giving them more opportunities to find the perfect deal for you. (Other brokers may only work with certain lenders, so they can’t offer you as many options). They may also have exclusive deals with lenders that you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else.
- Get in touch with several brokers: It’s a good idea to book some introductory chats with different brokers to help you work out the best fit for you.
- Beware of going with the broker recommended by your estate agent: Much better to shop around.
Are there any risks if you don’t get advice before applying for a mortgage?
If you don’t get some good independent mortgage advice before applying for your mortgage, there could be drawbacks:
- You might end up with the wrong mortgage for your situation: for example, with a shorter fixed term period than you were hoping for, or higher fees than you were expecting.
- You might apply for a mortgage when you don’t fulfil the lender’s criteria, meaning your application gets declined. This may cause a delay in your home-buying plans. Plus, it could be bad for your credit history because lenders run a hard credit check before making a mortgage offer.
Independent mortgage advice from Habito
Looking for reliable, independent mortgage advice that’s 100% free? Let’s talk.
We search the whole market – that’s 90+ lenders and 20,000+ mortgages – to find you the best deal. Then we guide you through the entire application process. Easy peasy.
Alex decided to become a mortgage broker after he used one to buy his flat. Was he inspired by the amazing service? No. He just figured he could do a much better job. Today, Alex leads one of Habito's biggest teams of brokers, giving people the expert, savvy advice they need to make buying their homes a breeze.