The time has come. You’ve spent either a few years renting, or living with your parents, and now you want to spread your wings and begin the first time buyer mortgage process. Once that initial wave of excitement has subsided, the real hard work of securing a house begins. This can feel extremely daunting, especially for people who have never been on the property ladder before. There are so many terms, phrases, and key steps that need to be done, and all of that can feel like too much.

Thankfully, the friendly, expert independent mortgage brokers at Avail Mortgages are here to help. We’ve gotten together, combined our decades of experience, and come up with a step by step guide to first-time buyer mortgages. Here, we’ll be covering the key steps in the process, as well as making sure you’re aware of all the important elements of securing a mortgage for the first time.

We have helped people who are looking to move into a home for the first time in places such as LeedsHuddersfield, and Harrogate. This makes us ideally suited to help you too! So, if after reading this guide, you’re looking to get started with the process, then be sure to book a mortgage appointment with us! Call us on 0330 118 0383, fill out our contact form, or drop us an email at [email protected].

In the meantime, let’s take a look at this process, the range of mortgages, and the things you need to know.

Who Is The Guide For?

While it may appear obvious, we thought we’d be absolutely clear – this guide is for people who have never owned a home but want to begin the process. This guide will help you:

  • Understand what things you need to be aware of.
  • Get the mortgage process underway.
  • Find a suitable mortgage that you can afford.

This guide isn’t for people who have previously owned property or want to cut the cost of their current mortgage. At Avail Mortgages, we have plenty of solutions for this category of homeowner – we’re confident we can help you.

Who Classes As A First Time Buyer?

The criteria for a first-time buyer is usually defined as someone who is buying their first main residence* and has never owned a residential building in the UK or abroad. It’s a broad term and means anyone who isn’t a home mover, owner, buy-to-let investor, or simply someone who is looking to remortgage their current domicile for equity reasons or to draw down on some capital.

If you’ve never owned a freehold or had a leasehold interest in a residential property, you’re a first-time buyer. On the other hand, if you’re buying a property with someone who has purchased in the past, have inherited a home, or had a house bought for you, you wouldn’t be classed as someone who is purchasing for the first time.

Are These Different To A Normal Mortgage?

In that they result in you receiving the keys to a property, first-time mortgages aren’t different to normal ones. However, during the process, there will be differences.

One of the main reasons is your lack of home purchasing history. When you go to a broker or a lender and are looking to buy, you don’t have the previous experience of paying back monthly mortgage repayments to prove that you can do it for a second time. This lack of previous ownership makes you more of a risk because there are more unknown factors, essentially. Things like your credit score*, debts, employment income, and bank statements are more closely scrutinised.

The other key difference is the loan-to-value, something we’ll touch on later. Essentially, the deposit requirements are likely to be higher for people who have never owned a house, compared to those who have. Again, this is because you’ve not had to make previous mortgage repayments and will therefore be subject to a larger deposit to reduce the lender’s risk.

The Schemes Available To Help First Time Buyers

There is a wide range of government-backed schemes* that can help people that are going through the house buying process. These can improve the first-time home buyer’s eligibility criteria:

  1. Help To Buy: Equity Loan – The Help To Buy: Equity Loan involves getting an equity loan towards the cost of a new build home. Depending on where you are in the UK, the terms will differ.
  2. Lifetime ISA – For those aged between 18 and 40, an ISA of this type involves the government adding 25% to your savings* – up to a maximum of £1000 per year – until you’re 50.
  3. First Homes Scheme – This is designed to help first time buyers and key workers to get onto the property ladder. The scheme offers homes with a 30% discount, compared to the market price.
  4. Shared Ownership Scheme – You and a landlord will co-own a property.

red and white front door

Looking To Start Your Mortgage Journey? Here are Five Things To Keep In Mind

Your Deposit

The mortgage deposit will be one of the first things you think about and one of the toughest. Even saving for a 5% deposit can take a while and it’s important to be patient, have a strict budget, and take advantage of mortgage schemes that can help you reach your goal quicker. Below is a simple table detailing the kind of money you need to save, we’re using the current average property price for first-time buyers, which is around £195,000*, as the example price.

Property Price % Deposit How Much You Need To Save
£195,000 5% £9,750
£195,000 10% £19,500
£195,000 15% £29,250

Can You Make The Monthly Repayments?

We can get caught up with the romance of homeownership, but before you let yourself get carried away, spend time working out the monthly mortgage payment. Yes, mortgage payments are broadly lower than renting but you need to be sure that your income levels will be high enough*, for long enough, to pay back the property price.

How Do I Prove I Can Afford It?

As part of the mortgage application, you’ll be asked to show your employment income levels, your levels of spending, your current debt levels and financial commitments, and your savings. All this will help form a picture of your finances and thus your ability to meet the payments laid out in the mortgage term.

Loan To Value (often abbreviated to LTV)

LTV is a word you’ll hear a lot. Loan To Value essentially describes the amount you’ve borrowed to buy your new house, compared to the mortgage lender’s valuation* of the property. If you want to purchase a property for £200,000 and put £20,000 down as a deposit, you’ll have a £180,000 mortgage. This means your LTV is 90% because the amount you’ve borrowed is 90% of the home’s value.

The lower the LTV, the lower your interest rate will be because there is less risk with a smaller loan. Generally, a 40% deposit will result in the lowest LTVs.

Stamp Duty, And Other Mortgage Fees

As well as Loan To Value, Stamp Duty is another term you’ll become familiar with. Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is essentially a tax on a property that is worth £250,000* or more. This current threshold will change on 1st October 2021. SDLT only applies in England and Northern Ireland, there are similar tax schemes in Scotland* and Wales*.

As well as SDLT, there are other house buying fees that you need to be aware of*, all of which will be priced differently depending on a host of factors, these are:

Mortgage Interest Rates 

The interest rates for mortgages are the additional money you pay on top of the monthly payments – this is how financial institutions make a portion of their money. The initial interest rate on a mortgage may be lower for the first few years, before increasing to a higher rate.

The current interest rate on mortgage deals, across the country, is extremely low. This is because of generally low base rates, a house buying boom because of stamp duty cuts*, and the Covid-19 pandemic*.

The Mortgage Application Process

From start to finish, the entire process of buying a house for the first time can feel scary. Especially if you are a young first-time buyer, after all, this may be the most expensive asset you ever purchase.

It’s daunting, in the main, because it is unknown. What should give you peace of mind is that mortgage applications have been done millions of times across the world and they are, therefore, a broadly simple process. It’s important to break it all down into manageable stages, as this allows you to focus on one part of the application at a time, and not feel overwhelmed.

To help with that, we’ve laid out the entire process from start to finish for these kinds of mortgages. Hopefully, this will ease any anxieties and show you that, while it may seem overwhelming, buying your first house is just a series of different stages.

Set A Budget

realistic budget that can accommodate your lifestyle, desired property type, and the amount of time you want to save, is the best way of keeping everything in order*. Once you have determined your deposit and the house price you can afford, you can work backwards and figure out how much of your monthly income you can set aside* as savings. This will help make the affordability assessment quicker because you know you’re going to pass it, and have budgeted accordingly.

Find A Property And View It!

Once your budget is set, and you’ve figured out what you can afford, you now need to find the four walls you’re going to buy! Once you’ve found the property that fits your budget, go ahead and book a viewing! During this search, look at the property’s key features, and the area in which it sits*. Is the crime rate low*? Are there good schools nearby*? How easy is it for you to commute? All this will help inform your final decision.

Make An Offer And Apply For A Mortgage Agreement In Principle (optional) 

Making an offer on a house can feel daunting but with our mortgage brokers behind you, the process will be smooth and stress-free. After all, this should be an exciting time – not one fraught with worry! Feel free, if you think it is appropriate, to make an offer that’s at the lower end of the price range. You should definitely do this if the home is the same as others in the area, but is more expensive.

Choose The Type Of Mortgage That’s Right For You

There is a very good chance that you’ll be opting for a repayment mortgage, not an interest-only one if you’re a first-time buyer. Therefore, we’re just going to be focusing on those types of mortgages, which are:

Speak To Conveyancing Professionals Or A Property Solicitor, And Carry Out A Survey

Once the offer has been accepted, this legal part involves searching, creating and checking contracts, as well as dealing with the Land Registry which is a government body that registers ownership of land* in the UK.


Once all that is done, you exchange contracts and move in! Moving in can seem daunting but it’s important to break this big day down into small chunks. Once you do that, the process will be much easier. Planning for this day is the key to making everything go well, and avoiding unnecessary stress.

How Avail Mortgages Can Help

Here at Avail Mortgages, we can help you secure a mortgage on your dream property, on terms that suit you. As independent mortgage brokers operating in the northwest, in areas such as Bradford and York, we have seen first-hand how wonderful the first time mortgage buying process can be.

This has inspired us to create a streamlined course of action that works around you and ensures you’re in control at all times. From our innovative mortgage calculator that allows you to see how much you can afford, to our online client portal that gives you access to important documents on any device, at a time that suits you, we have it all. All this has made us the preferred independent mortgage broker for dozens of people who want to secure the keys to a place they can call home.

Get In Touch

We hope this guide has helped you feel a little more at ease, and educated, about the first-time buyer mortgage process. At the end of the day, it’s about finding the budget, mortgage type, and house that is right for you and your individual circumstances. Take time to consider your options and really think about your needs. You’re going to be in this new home for a long period of time, so it’s important to think things through.

If you want the help of an independent mortgage broker, one that is aware of the anxieties and stress that comes from run-of-the-mill first-time buyer processes, then why not get in touch with us? Our way of doing things is different, it’s focused around you, and designed so that you’re in control and can make the right choices. All this is backed up by the support of a team of expert mortgage brokers and can help you with every step.

To kick things off, call us on 0330 118 0383, fill out our contact form, or email us at [email protected].