What is a first charge mortgage? Explained

What is a first charge mortgage?

First charge mortgages, or as they are commonly known, primary or first mortgages, are a staple of the UK property market. They form the backbone of most property purchases and are the most widely understood form of mortgage. However, despite its ubiquity, many people are still unsure of what exactly a first charge mortgage is. Let’s dive in and uncover the fundamentals of this critical component of the UK property market.

Definition of a first charge mortgage

In simple terms, a first charge mortgage is a loan taken out on a property that is the primary or ‘first charge’ loan against that property. This means that if the borrower were to default on their loan, the first charge mortgage lender has the first claim on any proceeds from the sale of the property to recover the debt.

The ‘charge’ here refers to the legal claim or ‘lien’ that a mortgage lender has over a property until the debt is paid off. In the UK, these charges are recorded with the Land Registry, which is a government department that maintains a comprehensive record of all land and property in England and Wales.

Features of a first charge mortgage

First charge mortgages can come in various forms, with the most common being a repayment mortgage, where the borrower pays off a part of the principal loan amount and the interest every month. Other types include interest-only mortgages, where only the interest is paid monthly and the principal is repaid at the end of the mortgage term, and fixed-rate mortgages, where the interest rate is fixed for a certain period.

The amount you can borrow with a first charge mortgage in the UK generally depends on your income, credit score, and the value of the property you’re buying. Lenders will also take into account other factors such as your outgoings, any other debts you may have, and the stability of your income.

First charge mortgage vs. second charge Mortgage

In contrast to a first charge mortgage, a second charge mortgage, also known as a ‘second mortgage’, is a loan that can be taken out on a property that already has a mortgage. The ‘second charge’ refers to the fact that this lender’s claim on the property would be secondary to the first mortgage lender’s claim.

While the interest rates on second charge mortgages can be higher due to the increased risk for the lender, they can be a viable option for those who don’t want to remortgage or if the penalties for changing their first mortgage are too high.

How do I find brokers near me?

If you’re based in the UK and you’re looking for first-charge mortgage mortgage brokers near you, there are several steps you can take.

  1. Internet Search: The easiest and most common way to start is by doing an online search. Type in “first charge mortgage brokers near me” or “first charge mortgage brokers in [your location]” in a search engine such as Google. This will provide you with a list of brokers in your area.
  2. Online Directories: There are many online directories for mortgage brokers in the UK. Websites like Unbiased.co.uk, VouchedFor, and the Money Advice Service’s mortgage adviser directory can help you find qualified brokers in your area.
  3. Recommendations and Reviews: Personal recommendations can be very valuable. Ask friends, family, or colleagues if they’ve used a broker they would recommend. Additionally, you can check online reviews to get an idea of other customers’ experiences.
  4. Estate Agents: If you’re also working with an estate agent, they may be able to recommend a broker. However, you should still do your own research to ensure that the broker is reputable and offers competitive rates.
  5. Comparison Sites: Websites like MoneySuperMarket, Compare the Market, and GoCompare allow you to compare different mortgage deals and brokers. However, not all brokers are listed on comparison sites, so this should be one part of your search rather than the whole.
  6. Professional Financial Advisers: If you’re already working with a financial adviser, they may be able to recommend a good mortgage broker. This could be particularly useful if you have complex financial circumstances that require expert advice.
  7. Local Banks and Building Societies: Sometimes, local banks and building societies can offer mortgage services or suggest reputable brokers.

Once you’ve found a potential broker, prepare a list of questions. Make sure to ask about their fees, whether they’re independent or tied to specific lenders, and how many lenders they deal with. This will help ensure that they can provide the best mortgage for your needs.

First charge mortgages, or as they are commonly known, primary or first mortgages, are a staple of the UK property market. They form the backbone of most property purchases and are the most widely understood form of mortgage. However, despite its ubiquity, many people are still unsure of what exactly a first charge mortgage is. Let’s dive in and uncover the fundamentals of this critical component of the UK property market.

To sum up, a first charge mortgage is the primary loan against a property, which gives the lender the first right to reclaim the debt from the sale of the property if the borrower defaults on their payments. It’s an essential instrument for buying property in the UK and a fundamental part of the country’s financial landscape. As always, before getting into any mortgage agreement, it’s advisable to seek professional advice to ensure you’re making the best choice for your specific circumstances.

Related articles:

Second charge loans

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