first time buyers' mortgage guide

First-Time Buyers' Guide 

Free PDF guide for first-time buyers

Thinking of buying your first home? It's an exciting but complicated venture – and coronavirus hasn't made it any easier. Our 55-page guide has tips on everything from putting together a deposit to knowing different mortgage types, from finding yourself a broker to getting the top deals. Free to download as a PDF, our guide takes you through ALL the key issues.

Buying your first home during the pandemic

Getting on the property ladder – especially if you're self-employed or your finances have been adversely affected by coronavirus – is harder than ever. For many the likelihood is that you'll need a deposit of around 10%, unless you're happy to look at specialist mortgages. 

Here's how the Government is trying to help first-time buyers:

  • In a bid to help potential homebuyers, until 30 June 2021, in England and Northern Ireland you won't pay any stamp duty on a main residence up to £500,000, while in Wales the threshold's risen to £250,000. Scotland also raised its threshold temporarily, but it's now gone back to normal.

  • The Government is now backing 95% mortgages to encourage lenders to offer more of them, meaning there are now more deals available for those with 5% deposits. See our '95% mortgage guarantee scheme' guide.

Further reading:

See our '10 things we learned about buying our first homes during the coronavirus pandemic' blog written by members of the MSE team.

See our 'Equity Loans guide', an option for those with a small deposit.

See our 'Shared Ownership guide', another option if you're struggling to get onto the property ladder.

Tip Email

FREE Weekly MoneySaving email 

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes simply sign up today - it’s spam free!

Who's the guide for?

The guide's written for first-time buyers and tells you all you need to know about getting a mortgage on your first home. Also see our Q&A on Lifetime ISAs – they're aimed at helping under-40s save for their first home or for retirement.

If you've already got a mortgage and want to cut its cost, consolidate debts or change the deal, read the Remortgage Guide instead.

What's in the guide?

If you want a sneak peek before getting the whole thing, here's a quick breakdown and intro for each section of the guide...

Chapter 1: Is a mortgage right for me?

This chapter urges you to think before you act. Is getting a mortgage right for you? Can you really afford it, or will you struggle to make each payment? Remember – renting isn't a dirty word. If it's either continuing to save up, or overstretching and having your first home repossessed – it's a no-brainer.

Chapter 2: Have you got a big enough deposit?

In this chapter, we show you why the size of your deposit matters. Especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic, your deposit affects how much you can borrow, and what interest rate you can borrow at. You'll likely need a minimum 10% deposit (and for many a 15% deposit will be the reality). Plus, find out if there are any Government mortgage schemes that can help you get on the ladder sooner than you think.

Chapter 3: Boost your chances of getting a mortgage

The days when lenders offered mortgages willy nilly are long gone. Getting the best mortgage deal doesn't just need a decent deposit, you now need a good credit score too. Yet there's hope. This chapter shows you how to maximise your chances.

Chapter 4: What type of mortgage to choose?

Do you know your fixed rate from your variable rate? Or whether you should choose repayment or interest-only? This chapter explains what a mortgage is, how it's 'secured' on your home, and lays out the pros and cons of different mortgage types.

Chapter 5: Mortgages for the self-employed/contractors

If you're self-employed or a contractor, then getting a mortgage is tough as you need cast-iron proof of what you earn. That's easy (ish) for employees – they have payslips, but it's much tougher if you work for yourself or don't have a permanent contract. We tell you what a lender will want to see before they offer you a mortgage.

Chapter 6: Don't forget the fees

Make sure when you do the sums, you add the full costs of buying a house and mortgaging. You need to consider mortgage fees, survey fees, lawyers' fees and stamp duty for starters. You can try to minimise them, but you can't magic them away. This chapter tells you what to budget for.

Chapter 7: How to get a mortgage

This covers going solo (if you're ultra-confident), the two KEY questions to ask a broker, and how to find a top broker. Chances are that using the right type of broker will be the best bet for most people, as they can whittle down the top deals quickly and offer you an extra layer of protection if things go wrong.

Chapter 8: Watch out for the hard sell on...

To compensate for lower profits on headline mortgage rates, some lenders have upped prices on associated insurance products. This chapter tells you the insurance policies you may face, the hard sell on, what you should expect to pay, and how to find the cheapest products.

Chapter 9: First-time buyers' quick Q&A

Will the lender lend on your property? What paperwork will you need to get together? How long should you get your mortgage to run for, and why is the APR useless? This chapter covers the answers to these and more questions you may have about buying your first home.

It's the end of the guide, but not the end of the mortgage journey. You'll need to monitor your mortgage, like you would with any financial product. Be on the lookout for good deals, especially if you need to remortgage in a few years.

But – in the meantime – happy hunting... and why not check out what mortgage rates are currently available to first-time buyers with the MoneySavingExpert Mortgage Best Buys.

Tip Email

FREE Weekly MoneySaving email 

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes simply sign up today - it’s spam free!

How come the guide's free?

The reason we're able to offer this guide for free is because it is sponsored by fees-free mortgage broker London & Country. But don't worry, it has no influence on the content, which purely depends on our view of the best way to get the cheapest mortgage deal you can.

question mark

The guide's written with complete editorial independence and it's purely focused on finding you the best deal. This was something we made sure was in the contract with London & Country.

Having said that, L&C isn't stupid. We've independently listed it as one of the top brokers for several years now (see the Cheap Mortgage Finding guide), so it had a pretty good idea it wouldn't come out too badly.

The reason it sponsors the guide is it gets a one-time chance to include its own message promoting its service. Just to assure you, you won't be sent any follow-up advertising or marketing, or any of that malarkey.

In the trade, this is known as a payment for 'lead generation', and in this case that means L&C pays for the publishing and a fee to this site. See more about this site's ethical financial stance.

Are there any more guides?

Yep! As well as all the online guides on this site, there's a selection of special PDF downloads:

remortgage house

The Remortgage Guide

For people who are after a cheap remortgage deal – not for the first time you get one. Get full PDF guide: Remortgage Guide.

teen cash class

Teen Cash Class

A 40-page guide to teach kids AND parents all the essential money lessons. Get full PDF/printed guide: Teen Cash Class.

mental health

Mental Health & Debt Guide

This is a free 40-page PDF booklet supported by Mind, Rethink and others. Get the full PDF guide: Mental Health & Debt.

Tip Email

FREE Weekly MoneySaving email 

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes simply sign up today - it’s spam free!

Spotted out of date info/broken links? Email: