What is a mortgage broker and do you need one?, by Matt Stevens
Many people find that buying or selling a property is a very difficult process. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Vivo Property Buyers, 24% of people consider buying a property to be their most stressful life event, while 26% said selling was the most challenging.
Whether you’re new to the property market, so far you’ve struggled to secure a mortgage, or you just don’t have the time to look for the best deal, it’s easy to feel lost when you’re looking to buy your next home. But one way to get things moving in the right direction is by seeking the advice of a mortgage broker who can simplify the process and help you get the most out of your money.
If you’re not familiar with what a mortgage broker is, you might have some questions about everything, from what they can help you with to how much they typically charge. So, we’ve put this guide together to answer them and put any concerns you might have to rest. Here, we’ll cover:
- What is a mortgage broker?
- Benefits of using a mortgage broker
- Do I need a mortgage broker to buy a house?
- Is a mortgage broker worth it?
- Can a mortgage broker help me sell my home?
- Can a mortgage broker help me remortgage my home?
- What’s the difference between a mortgage advisor and a mortgage broker?
- How to choose a mortgage broker
- How many mortgage brokers should I contact?
- When should I speak to a mortgage broker?
- What information will a mortgage broker need?
- Questions to ask a mortgage broker
- Mortgage broker costs and fees in the UK
Once you have all of the information you need about what a mortgage broker can do for you and what the benefits of using one are, you can decide whether it’s going to be the right move for you. Read on to find out more.
What is a mortgage broker?
A mortgage broker is a person or company who will help you to find a mortgage for the property you wish to buy or help you remortgage your current home. They’ll work closely with you to completely understand your needs and what you can afford so they can help you to get the best mortgage deal.
What does a mortgage broker do for you?
The role of a mortgage broker is to act as a go-between between you (the borrower) and your chosen bank or building society (the lender). A good mortgage broker will provide a complete service from the start to the finish of your move, easing any concerns and answering any questions you may have along the way.
Here are some of the steps you can expect to go through as part of a broker’s service when buying a home:
- Your mortgage broker will first sit down and speak to you to get a clear picture of your situation and review your existing documents.
- They will then scour the available mortgage deals to find the right product to fit your needs, narrowing your options down to a shortlist. They will present these in a clear and digestible format, so you can make the right decision.
- Your broker will work with you to complete your mortgage application, ensuring all the forms are filled in correctly and that it’s accompanied by the right documents. They will then submit your application to the lender.
- Once you’ve been approved, they will assist in finalising a contract with your lender and oversee the signing of your mortgage agreement. They will also make sure that you fully understand each part of the document.
Having an expert to hold your hand through the process — especially if you’re a first-time buyer — can be incredibly helpful and is likely to make the experience a lot less stressful.
Benefits of using a mortgage broker
You can buy a home without using a mortgage broker, so you may be wondering why you should consider paying additional fees for the assistance of one. So, let’s take a look at the main benefits of hiring a mortgage broker.
They’ll save you time
Researching the mortgage market in search of the best deal can be very time-consuming, which isn’t ideal when you’re already arranging everything else required in the process of buying and selling a home. By using a mortgage broker, you can get advice from someone who already knows the market inside and out. Plus, they’ll be happy to sniff out the best deal to suit your situation so you don’t have to.
They’ll save you money
It’s a mortgage broker’s job to help you find the best mortgage deal to suit your financial situation. Plus, a good mortgage broker will also look beyond the best rate and help you take all of the relevant mortgage fees and charges into account, so you can ensure you’re getting the most affordable option overall.
You’ll be able to access more products
Due to their connections and industry knowledge, mortgage brokers will often be able to give you access to a wider range of mortgage products than if you were to do all of the research yourself. They’ll typically have a strong professional network that will help them and they may even be able to provide you with a product that wouldn’t usually be available to the general public. This can help you to get the best deal possible.
They’ll provide you with expert financial advice
All mortgage brokers in the UK are required to be certified, which means they’re qualified to provide you with expert financial advice. They’ll also be on your side and their only goal will be to help you get the most affordable mortgage deal to suit your circumstances. Plus, because they will have already overseen countless house purchases, they can help you to avoid common mistakes and challenges that can come with buying a property.
They’ll help you with your paperwork
As you might imagine, applying for a mortgage typically involves completing a lot of paperwork. You’ll have lots of forms to fill in and will need to ensure you have all of your own records in order. Organising everything can be stressful and the smallest mistake can slow things down or even prevent you from getting a mortgage. So, having an expert on hand to help you can be very beneficial and will make life easier for you.
You won’t have to handle the application
As well as helping with your paperwork, a mortgage broker can also handle the application process for you. Buying a property is likely to be one of the busiest times of your life, so they’ll take this off your plate and will keep you informed about the progress of your application. They’ll also be used to noticing delays or problems and following up with all of the relevant people. This can be invaluable when you have a lot of other tasks you need to focus on.
They can help you get essential insurance
When you take out a mortgage, you’ll also be required to invest in insurance that will protect you in the future. Life, home, and critical illness cover can all help to ensure that your loved ones will be taken care of and your mortgage will still be covered if the worst should happen.
Choosing the right insurance products is something your mortgage broker should be able to help you with, too.
Do I need a mortgage broker to buy a house?
You are free to seek a mortgage either directly on your own or through a broker. So, no, you don’t necessarily need a mortgage broker to buy a new home. However, there are some strong advantages to hiring a mortgage broker that might mean you do wish to enlist their help. To help you make the best decision to suit your needs, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both approaches.
Advantages of finding a direct deal
✔ Access to exclusive direct deals
✔ No broker fees
Disadvantages of finding a direct deal
✖ No access to broker-only deals
✖ You won’t have enough knowledge of the market to find the best deals
✖ Research and comparing can be time-consuming
✖ No support with the application process
✖ Need to arrange insurance cover separately
There are also pros and cons of using a mortgage broker, so here’s what you need to keep in mind:
Advantages of using a mortgage broker
✔ Access to exclusive broker-only deals
✔ Expert knowledge of the market
✔ Less time-consuming
✔ Support throughout the application process
✔ Assistance with arranging insurance
Disadvantages of using a mortgage broker
✖ No access to direct-only deals
✖ Potential broker fees
The industry knowledge of a mortgage broker is an asset that really can’t be overstated, especially if you are looking for a specialist lender to suit your financial circumstances. For example, if you have a bad credit record, a broker will be able to give you valuable advice on how to improve it and which products you can apply for with more chance of being approved.
In fact, a broker will be able to recommend deals that you’re more likely to be accepted for, removing the risk of applying for the wrong product on your own. This can help you avoid a rejection appearing on your credit record, which could have a negative impact on future applications.
It’s also important to point out that a good mortgage broker is working for your benefit, not that of a bank or building society. Part of a broker’s job is to remain professional throughout the whole process, and they are strictly regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Plus, they want to keep you as a client, so it’s in their best interests to match you up with the right deal.
Is a mortgage broker worth it?
One of the main reasons that people think twice about taking mortgage advice is that they don’t want to pay any extra fees. This is understandable, especially just before making such a huge financial commitment when it comes to taking out a mortgage, but it’s important to know that employing a mortgage broker can actually help you save money in the long term.
The mortgage market can be surprisingly complex, where one product can seem to be the best value but, in actual fact, another seemingly pricier deal works out better in the long run once you consider all of the associated fees and charges. A broker will take into account all the possible costs of potential deals and present them in a digestible way, allowing you to see which one is best. In many cases, any fee charged by a mortgage broker will be more than repaid by the savings you will make from the mortgage deal they find you.
Lastly, one thing to bear in mind when looking for the right mortgage broker is whether they are linked to a bank or building society or not. There are some tied brokers who will only be able to offer you the products from one lender so, if you are looking for a wide variety of lenders on the market, it’s probably better to look elsewhere.
Here at The Mortgage Genie, we work with a comprehensive panel of lenders to make sure you have the best chance of finding the right mortgage. We can access many lending institutions to ensure the most suitable mortgage choice possible for our clients, including hundreds of products that are not available on the high street.
Can a mortgage broker help me sell my home?
A top mortgage broker will be willing to guide you through the selling process if you are moving from one property to another, making sure all the finances are just right. You may also wish to port your current mortgage to your new home, and your mortgage broker will help you decide if this is right for you, as well as arrange it.
Here at The Mortgage Genie, our team is highly experienced in helping home movers secure a mortgage on a new property at the same as liaising with estate agents on the sale of their current house. We’ll help to ensure there are no unnecessary complications for a smooth transition. We can also assist in porting your mortgage across to your new property, should you wish to explore that option.
Can a mortgage broker help me remortgage my home?
A mortgage broker can help you arrange a remortgage for your home, saving you money in the long run with a better rate. Remortgaging takes less time and effort than buying or selling a property but, if you find that you simply don’t have the time, or you aren’t confident about securing the most suitable deal, a mortgage broker can work with you to understand your needs and help you make the switch.
If you think that you could benefit from a remortgage on your home, our remortgaging guide can help you make an informed decision. And, at The Mortgage Genie, we have expert mortgage brokers who are always on hand to answer any of your questions and help you get started.
What’s the difference between a mortgage advisor and a mortgage broker?
There is actually no real difference between the roles of a mortgage advisor and a mortgage broker — the terms are generally interchangeable. They’re both trained and certified to help you find the best mortgage deal to suit your needs and support you through the process of buying a home.
How to choose a mortgage broker
If you’ve decided that you would like to benefit from hiring a mortgage broker to hold your hand through the buying process and help you find the right deal, you’ll need to choose who to go with. There are a number of factors you need to consider when you’re trying to find a mortgage broker, and we’re going to outline the main ones here.
Do you want to see them face-to-face?
Think about what kind of experience you would prefer: do you want to sit down with someone face-to-face or are you happy to speak to someone remotely over the phone? While neither is superior to the other, the one that you prefer will probably come down to your own needs and lifestyle. For example, if you have a busy working schedule, you may prefer a phone-based service for its convenience. But, if you would like a more personal touch, you’re best off looking for a broker in your local area that you can meet with.
Here at The Mortgage Genie, we offer both a nationwide phone service and a local face-to-face service. And, our advisors are available 7 days a week, so you can always arrange a consultation at a convenient time. Get in touch if you’d like to find out more.
Look for customer feedback
Before you contact a broker, you should try to get an idea of what experience other customers have had with them. And be sure to look at reviews from a verified service like Trustpilot or Feefo over those published by the broker themselves.
Once you’ve found a mortgage broker you think will deliver, it’s time to arrange a meeting with them either in person or over the phone. At this point, you’ll be able to get a feel for whether they’re going to meet your needs or not.
Check they’re qualified
You should make sure that any potential mortgage broker is sufficiently qualified to offer you the advice you need. To practise as a mortgage broker in the UK, you need to pass the Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice (CeMAP), so this needs to be the certification that you’re on the lookout for. This is a qualification that is recognised by the Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates the industry.
Here at The Mortgage Genie, all of our advisors are fully qualified to offer you the very best advice on your mortgage. Not only that, but they have years of experience in the industry, helping our clients find a great deal on their dream home.
Are they regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority?
The Financial Conduct Authority is the body that is responsible for overseeing the conduct of mortgage brokers in the UK, so it’s mandatory that any broker is registered and regulated by them. Because mortgage brokers are strictly regulated, not only can you be sure that you will be receiving a quality of service in line with the Financial Conduct Authority standards, but you will also have access to their support should there be any problems. You can check whether a mortgage broker is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority by searching their register.
The Mortgage Genie Limited is fully authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for mortgage and non-investment insurance advice (reference number: 754691).
How many mortgage brokers should I contact?
While you may be tempted to use more than one mortgage broker to get as many deals as possible to choose from, it may not be a good idea. Your broker will only be able to do the best job possible for you when they’re able to sit down and really get to know about your needs and circumstances.
A good broker will always be on the lookout for the most suitable deal for you, and this can mean they will be in regular contact. If you have more than one advisor getting in touch, you may lose track of what offers are on the table, and which one offers the best value. Plus, every time an application is made to a lender on your behalf, they will carry out a credit check, which will show up on future records. Banks and building societies can take lots of applications as a sign of financial instability, which could lead to you being rejected. This is much more likely to happen if you have multiple brokers on the case who aren’t in communication with one another.
There’s also a chance that using multiple brokers will mean paying multiple fees. Overall, it’s best to do your research and choose one you wish to stick with.
When should I speak to a mortgage broker?
Ideally, you should speak to a mortgage broker as early as possible in the house-buying process. This is because you need to begin your mortgage application before you have started to seriously look at buying a property. Many people have lost out on their dream home because they have not had the finances in place to complete the deal.
If you want to remortgage, you should speak to a mortgage broker around three months before the switch date you have in mind. Most people look to remortgage as the introductory deal or minimum term on their existing product is coming to an end. Be sure to read our guide to remortgages to find out more.
What information will a mortgage broker need?
For your initial meeting with your broker, you will need to provide them with a few details and documents, so they can get a grasp of your personal circumstances and your financial situation.
Getting your documents in order is not just for your broker’s benefit — it will help you understand your own finances ahead of the meeting, too.
You will need:
- Bank statements for the last three months
- Payslips for the last three months (if you are employed)
- Your last two years of business accounts (if you are self-employed)
- Your most recent P60, which is the form that shows how much tax you paid in the last financial year (more information available on the government’s website)
- Proof of identity (passport or driver’s licence)
- Proof of address (your most recent utility bill)
Taking all of this information and paperwork to your first meeting with your broker will ensure that they can get started on finding you the best mortgage deal right away.
Questions to ask a mortgage broker
When you meet or speak to a mortgage broker for the first time, it’s a good idea to take a list of essential questions to ask them that will verify their knowledge and authenticity, as well as give you a clearer picture of what their service will provide for you.
We’ve selected some of the most important questions you should think about asking your mortgage broker, so be sure to take them with you to your first meeting.
Are you tied to any bank or building society?
As we’ve mentioned, there are some mortgage brokers who are tied to a particular bank or building society, limiting the range of products they can offer you and the diversity of deals you can access. By establishing early on whether an advisor is only able to offer one lender’s deals, you can quickly spot those that will only give you a small slice of the market.
At The Mortgage Genie, we have access to a comprehensive lender panel making it more likely that we can find a deal suited to you. We aren’t tethered to one lender.
How will you get payment?
You should ask how a mortgage broker will be paid for their services: they will either require an upfront fee from you, commission from the lender, or a combination of both. Many people prefer to go with a mortgage broker who charges a fee for their services, as they can be confident that they won’t be swayed by the size of any commission.
We charge an upfront fee here at The Mortgage Genie, but only after we’ve had a free initial consultation with you to determine what your needs are. Any fee that we charge will never be more than 1% of your mortgage amount.
How long will the process take?
Depending on your needs, you may wish to find out how long a mortgage broker will take to complete the research and application process. If you have a deadline in mind, it’s always worth mentioning this early on to see if the broker can provide a fast-track service to ensure you have your finances in place on time.
Do you offer insurance products?
Most mortgage providers require you to have certain insurance in place before finalising any deal, so it’s worth finding out whether your mortgage broker can provide advice and recommendations in this area, too. By going through a broker for insurance, you can confirm that the right cover will be in place for completion, as well as save yourself a lot of time researching and applying elsewhere. Your mortgage advisor will have taken the time to get to know your circumstances, so they will be best placed to recommend the most suitable insurance for you.
If you’re looking for insurance alongside your mortgage, The Mortgage Genie can certainly help. We can support you in finding the most suitable cover across a variety of products, including mortgage protection, life insurance, critical illness cover, income protection, and home insurance.
Why is this the mortgage product for me?
When a mortgage provider recommends a product for you, don’t be afraid to ask them why they think that this particular deal is right for you. A good broker will be able to break the details of the product down and explain why this would be a good match. This way, you can always be sure that you will have a clear picture of your options.
At The Mortgage Genie, we have a great track record when it comes to finding the right product for our clients when they are buying a property. No matter whether you’re a first-time buyer, taking advantage of a Help to Buy scheme, investing in a new-build home, or looking for an adverse credit mortgage, we can provide tailored advice.
How can you help me in the future?
For many people, getting the right mortgage for their home is not the end of their relationship with their mortgage broker. Even if your deal is the right match to begin with, you may want to review it periodically to make sure that it continues to offer good value. If a better option becomes available, a good broker will be more than happy to help you review your options and find an alternative. Plus, if you ever decide to move home, buy a second home, or purchase a buy-to-let property, your advisor should be able to help.
Here at The Mortgage Genie, our team is highly experienced in all types of mortgage brokerage, so we will be able to assist beyond the purchase of your home. Whether you wish to move, purchase a buy-to-let, remortgage, or do something else in the future, we can help you achieve your goals.
Mortgage broker costs and fees in the UK
There is no standard mortgage broker fee, and the costs incurred could depend on what type of product and how much work is required to get you the best deal.
As we’ve mentioned, a mortgage broker offers a service, so you may need to pay a fee at some point. There are two main ways in which a broker can be paid: by charging a one-off fee upfront, or by earning commission from the lender once you’ve been approved. Some brokers will also charge upfront and still earn commission.
Many mortgage brokers will advertise themselves as being fee-free, as they are paid only through commission. Though this can be an eye-catching offer, it’s also worth considering those that charge a fee upfront, as you can rest assured that your broker will only make recommendations based on your best interests, rather than which product will net the most commission. Plus, if a broker who charges a fee finds you a better deal than one who doesn’t, the long-term savings are likely to outweigh this cost.
Here at The Mortgage Genie, we are big believers in transparency for our customers, and that’s why our initial consultation will always be free of charge. Once we’ve got a good idea of what your needs are and what type of product you will require, we will then be able to work out whether a fee is necessary. Our typical fee is £293, and will never be more than 1% of your mortgage amount. Any fee that we charge will always be upfront and agreed upon before you make your application.
We hope this guide has helped you to understand what a mortgage broker can do and if this type of service can benefit your property purchase. Looking to find out more about the industry? It’s worth taking a look at our other mortgage guides, as they’re packed full of useful information
Here at The Mortgage Genie, we have expert mortgage brokers who are knowledgeable and well-connected, so they can always find you the best product to suit your needs. As well as providing mortgage advice and support, we also offer a variety of home insurance products that will help you ensure you’re protected when buying a home.
If you’re interested in our services, make sure you use our mortgage calculator to get an idea of how much you may be able to borrow and get in touch with us. We’re waiting to help!