Your complete guide to mortgage brokers & advisors

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Fact Checked.
Updated on
April 6, 2021

In a nutshell

A mortgage broker can make it quicker and easier for you to get a mortgage and can help find you the best deal possible.

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What’s so great about mortgage brokers? Do you even need one? Let’s put it like this: the right mortgage broker could save you a ton of stress as well as potentially hundreds of pounds each month on mortgage repayments. Intrigued? Read on to have all your questions about mortgage brokers answered.

First things first: what is a mortgage broker or advisor?

A mortgage broker, also known as a mortgage advisor, is a person or company that can arrange a mortgage for you. In other words, they’re the middleman between you (the borrower) and the lender (the bank or organisation that’s actually giving you the mortgage). 

You don’t have to have one, but… well… you’ll probably want one. In fact, 71% of homeowners used a broker in their most recent house purchase (according to a survey by Legal and General).

What does a mortgage broker do for you?

A mortgage broker will take the time to learn all about you and your financial situation before helping you find the best mortgage deals and offering you advice on which you should pick. So, it’s no surprise that they’re also referred to as ‘mortgage advisors!’

Think of them as someone who’s used to seeing all your dirty laundry without passing any judgment, and who then makes it their business to help you out on the road to house buying success.

As if that wasn’t enough, they’ll even fill out the application for you and handle the whole process from start to finish.

Meanwhile, you get to just sit there twiddling your thumbs and making your way through Netflix’s whole back catalogue (or doing something much more worthwhile... the point is, it’s up to you).

Why use a mortgage broker?

Using the right mortgage broker can make life a hell of a lot easier and (probably) cheaper. Here are some of the main benefits.

  • Find you the best deals: An independent mortgage broker will (usually) be able to search the whole market to find you the very best deals. This way, you can make sure you’re not paying more than you have to on your monthly mortgage repayments.
  • Expert advice: Not all of us know what kind of mortgage we should be looking for or which deals we should be steering clear of. A mortgage broker is an expert who’ll be able to advise you on the best way forward given your circumstances. 
  • Avoid rejection: Navigating the different mortgage lenders and their requirements can be a minefield. But a mortgage broker will know them inside out – it’s their job! This means you can avoid applying for mortgages you’re unlikely to get approved for (which could negatively impact your credit score and make it harder for you to get a mortgage in the future).
  • Make things easy: A mortgage broker has access to software that allows them to search for the best mortgages quickly and effectively. Plus, they’ll handle the whole application process for you, which will save you time and avoid any silly mistakes that could draw out the process. 
  • On your side: A mortgage broker will be on your side. This means you can be honest with them about your situation without worrying about whether this is going to negatively impact your application. It’s their job to hear what you have to say and then find you a lender that can work with your circumstances.
  • You have the right to complain: If it turns out that the mortgage they recommended wasn’t suitable for you after all, you have the right to complain and could potentially get compensation. This means you have a level of protection that you wouldn’t have if you’d just handled your mortgage application yourself. All mortgage brokers are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

How much does a mortgage broker cost – and how does it work?

First things first, mortgage brokers get paid a commission by mortgage lenders. In other words, when you take out a mortgage via a broker, your lender will pay them a fee, straight from their own pocket. This is normally a percentage of the value of your mortgage. 

Don’t worry though, the lender doesn’t charge you more because of it, you still get the same (and sometimes better) rates using a broker than you would by getting a mortgage straight from the lender. A broker basically does all the work for the lender (and you!), so the lender is happy to pay them for doing so.

Some mortgage brokers are happy to just take this commission as their payment, which means you get to use their services for free. Happy days! This is becoming more and more common as a lot of a mortgage broker’s work is made easy with technology now. Plus, there’s a growing number of free online mortgage brokers, which we’ll tell you more about below.

However, other brokers are keen to get paid a bit more and will also charge you an upfront fee. This can be a percentage of the total mortgage you’re applying for (usually between 0.3% and 1%) or a fixed fee. The average is between £400 and £500.

Which is better – a free broker or one you have to pay for?

In reality, it doesn’t make a huge amount of difference. As long as you use a broker that can search the whole market, the end result should be the same (in other words you should, fingers crossed, end up with the best deal out there). 

The only real thing that’s likely to change is the broker’s service – if you’re looking for fantastic customer service, you might choose to pay more for it. That said, don’t just assume that a more expensive broker is necessarily better. Lots of free ones have great service too.

Having said all that, depending on your circumstances, you might struggle to find a free broker. If your situation is more complex and you need a specialist broker, you’re likely to be charged fees. Similarly, some mortgage brokers will charge you a fee if your house purchase is below a certain price, as the percentage commission they get won’t always be worth their while if the size of your mortgage is very low.

If you find yourself having to pay for a mortgage broker, don’t worry too much. Yes, £400-£500 might sound like a lot of money, but a broker that can search the whole market will usually save you a lot more than that in the long run. So, a free one is just a bonus!

Are online mortgage brokers a good idea?

Online mortgage brokers are online services that help you to find a great mortgage deal without actually speaking to a human. Yep, that’s right, normally all you’ll have to do is fill in an online form or send in some details via an app. How futuristic is that?!

Online mortgage brokers can be a lot quicker than going through a human (some claim they can help you find and apply for a mortgage in as little as 15 minutes!). And they’re usually free. But are they really a good idea?!

Well, it depends on your priorities. On the plus side, they give you the freedom to find a deal at any time of the day rather than having to wait until office hours to talk with your broker. So they can be great for busy people. But on the other hand, sometimes it’s reassuring to talk to a human, especially if your situation is a little complicated.

You’ll probably also get less support in the early stages when you’re just looking for advice rather than trying to find a deal. 

So, there are pros and cons to using an online mortgage broker. It all depends on what you’re looking for!

How to choose a mortgage broker that’s right for you

Okay, so now’s the important bit: how do you find a mortgage broker that’s right for you? Well, we’d recommend asking any broker these key questions before making a decision.

1. Do you search the whole market?

It might sound like a strange question, but not all brokers are ‘whole-of-market.’ Some mortgage brokers will only search a small ‘panel’ of mortgage lenders and they may have agreements with lenders that make them more likely to recommend certain deals. Some are even based in banks or building societies, which means they’ll only tell you about the mortgages offered by that lender. This is NOT what you want. 

You’ll want to search for an independent, whole-of-market broker who’s going to try to find you the best deal for you. Not the best deal for them!

A whole-of-market broker will be much better placed to save you money because they’ll be able to compare all the deals that are available to you, to try and find you the best one.

2. Will you tell me about direct-only mortgages?

A direct-only mortgage is one that’s only available directly from the lender. Although many mortgages are only available if you go through a broker, every now and again there’s a deal that’s only available if you don’t go through a broker. Confusing, right?! 

Your mortgage broker won’t get any commission if you apply for one of these deals and they don’t have to tell you about them. However, some will let you know about any suitable direct-only deals anyway (we guess they’re just good people!).

Ultimately, we wouldn’t say that this is a dealbreaker. These kinds of mortgages are few and far between. If your mortgage broker won’t discuss direct-only deals with you, that’s just something you’ll want to be aware of. That way, you can do a little bit of your own digging on the side!

3. Who pays the mortgage broker?

Remember how we said that mortgage brokers get paid a commission from the lender you end up with? Well, don’t forget that some will also charge you a fee to use their services.

If you’re only taking out a small mortgage or your requirements are very complicated, you may not be able to find a mortgage broker who’ll work with you for free. So, don’t place too much importance on this – at the end of the day, your broker is likely to save you a lot more money than what you pay them!

That said, if you can get a free mortgage broker, why not go for it and save even more money? (assuming they’re whole-of-market, of course!) Either way, it’s best to find out if you’ll need to pay them before you start working together – and how much it’ll cost.

4. What’s included in your services?

In many ways, mortgage brokers are the superheroes of the property industry. But some mortgage brokers are… well… a bit more superhero than others. 

Don’t get us wrong, most of them will be legends, chasing lenders for you when they go AWOL, churning through the admin like no-one you’ve ever seen… but like anyone in any job, some are better than others. So, just make sure you know exactly what you can expect from them.

This includes asking about contact hours. Will you need to ring them during work hours only, or will they be available in the evenings and at weekends? You can’t expect them to work all hours of the day, but it’s obviously going to be easiest if you’re both available to chat at the same times!

How to find a mortgage broker

The best way to find a mortgage broker who’ll do a great job for you is to get recommendations. However, don’t just rely on the word of your mum, your neighbour or your best mate. Most people don’t realise they’ve overpaid on fees or that they haven’t got the best deal. 

Instead, why not let us find the perfect broker for you? Our free service will find the perfect match for you, just like tinder, except for mortgage advice. We only recommend brokers we vouch for and know can get you the best deal. It only takes a few minutes, get started now.

Over to you

So what do you think? If you’re tempted to let a mortgage broker track down the best deals for you (while you chill and enjoy some me time), then all that’s left is to find your perfect broker. Remember, you’re looking for a whole-of-market broker who can help you compare all your options. Good luck!

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Ash Jensen (CeMAP)
Ash Jensen (CeMAP)

Director & Head Broker of Make My Mortgage

Ash has more than 20 years’ experience in the mortgage industry, making him a true expert when it comes to anything to do with mortgages (trust us, anything that Ash doesn’t know about mortgages isn’t worth knowing!).

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