Santander mortgage review: What are the pros and cons?

14 min Read Published: 08 Nov 2021

Santander mortgages review Santander is one of the largest mortgage lenders in the UK, operating both direct to consumers and through its broker-only Santander for Intermediaries channel. In this review we explore the types of mortgages Santander offers, its lending criteria, charges and its advantages and disadvantages.

What is a Santander mortgage?

Santander has become a major player among British high street banks since it acquired Abbey National in November 2004, following 15 years of operating in the UK in partnership with The Royal Bank of Scotland. It now has over 500 branches, 24.4 million customers and 21,000 members of staff. It makes up a significant part of the mainstream mortgage market and generally offers competitive deals at rates below the market average.

For customers looking for a standard mortgage with straightforward conditions, it is possible to apply directly with Santander, either online, over the phone or at a branch. You will initially be given a decision in principle before completing a full application and, if successful, getting a mortgage offer.

For more complicated cases or for those looking for exclusive deals, through using a mortgage broker you can access Santander for Intermediaries. This has a range of products that aren't available direct to the general public and require you to get advice in advance from a qualified mortgage broker, who then makes the application on your behalf. This includes those looking to get a buy-to-let mortgage, those wanting to use a scheme such as Shared Ownership or Help to Buy, those seeking a larger loan or self-employed applicants. If you haven't got a mortgage broker, we like online mortgage broker Habito*, which offers independent, whole-of-market advice.

Santander Mortgage Key Features

  • Large, mainstream bank providing mortgages direct to customers and through Santander for Intermediaries
  • Lends at multiples of up to 5.5 times income, depending on salary, affordability and loan-to-value (LTV)
  • The bulk of its products are fixed-rate mortgages, although it does also offer trackers, including a lifetime tracker
  • Offers mortgages up to 95% LTV

Santander mortgage Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
tick Good range of products at competitive interest rates

tick Ability to make unlimited overpayments on tracker-rate, standard variable rate and follow-on rate mortgages

tick Exclusive deals and more specialist products through Santander for Intermediaries

tick Income multiples of up to 5.5 times, if income of all applicants is more than £100,000 per year

cross Santander is primarily a prime lender and is unlikely to approve applicants with significantly impaired credit

cross Additional £225 account fee payable upon completion 

cross Limited to a maximum overpayment of 10% of the mortgage balance each year for fixed-rate mortgages, otherwise you may incur an early repayment charge

What types of mortgage does Santander offer?

Santander provides mortgages for first-time buyers, movers and those looking to remortgage. It offers residential mortgages direct to customers, or buy-to-let through its broker-only arm, Santander for Intermediaries. The main types of mortgages are fixed-rate deals, where you can fix the rate for 2, 3 or 5 years, or tracker mortgages, which tend to be for 2 years, after which point the customer moves on to a follow-on rate product. There is also the option of a lifetime tracker, where the interest rate tracks the bank base rate for the entire term of the deal.

There are a greater variety of mortgages through Santander for Intermediaries, including those for buy-to-let investors. There are also products that work with the government's Shared Ownership or Help to Buy schemes, as well as for those looking for larger loans of up to £3m.

How much can I borrow with Santander?

The total amount you can borrow on a Santander mortgage is determined by your income, affordability assessments and the overall loan-to-value of the mortgage. In general, Santander will lend between 4.45-5.5 times the total income of the applicants for a mortgage. For remortgages without capital raising, the income multiple is 5.5 times, irrespective of income. 

What income multiples are available on a Santander mortgage?

Combined income or applicants  LTV - 75% or less LTV - over 75% 
Less than £45,000 4.45x 4.45x
£45,000-£99,999 5x 4.45x
£100,000 or more 5.5x 4.45x

What is the maximum loan size and loan-to-value (LTV) with a Santander mortgage?

Maximum LTV Maximum loan size 
75% LTV More than £1m
85% LTV Up to £1m
90% LTV Up to £570,000
95% LTV Up to £570,000

What interest rates does Santander charge?

As rates change frequently, it is worth checking with Santander - or with your mortgage broker - to ensure you get the most up to date rates before you make an application. It is generally true though that Santander offers below-average interest rates for the majority of its products, which helps drive its popularity in a competitive marketplace.

At the time of writing, for mortgages sourced through Santander for Intermediaries, there is a 2-year fixed rate deal at 60% LTV with an initial rate of 1.13%. The same length fixed rate deal at 95% LTV has an initial rate of 2.83%. A 5-year fixed rate, meanwhile, is 1.34% at 60% LTV or 3.25% at 95% LTV. A 2-year tracker at 60% LTV is 1.49%, while it is 3.99% at 95% LTV.

After the initial introductory period, the product reverts to the standard variable rate, which is currently 4.34%.

How long does it take to get a mortgage offer from Santander?

The length of time it takes for your application to be processed by the underwriters and your mortgage to be approved will vary over time, with some periods being busier than others and the approval process taking longer. At the time of writing, the average times it takes to get an offer are:

  • Residential mortgages - 10 days
  • Buy-to-let mortgages - 14 days
  • Self-employed mortgages - 16 days

What fees does Santander charge for its mortgages?

The fees you will have to pay to Santander when you take out a mortgage will vary depending on the product you choose. The two main fees you will face are the product fee. which is a type of admin fee applied when you take out a new deal, and the valuation fee, which covers the cost of assessing the value of the new property. There is also an account fee of £225 that is payable on completion of all mortgages.

At Santander, there are product fees on some, but not all products and these could be as high as £1,500. You will be told at the outset if there is a product fee and, if so, will be given the option to pay it upfront or add it on to the mortgage. In terms of the valuation fee, there is a flat fee of £180 for properties up to £2.5m. It is worth noting that the valuation undertaken is for the benefit of the lender and for a more thorough home buyers' report or structural survey, there will be an additional charge.

Can you make overpayments on your Santander mortgage?

If you are on a fixed-rate mortgage with Santander, you are allowed to overpay up to 10% of your outstanding balance each year without facing any sort of penalty. However, if you don't use up the 10% allowance in a calendar year, you are not able to carry it over. If you pay more than 10% between January and December, opt to pay off your full mortgage, or transfer to a new deal, you may have to pay an Early Repayment Charge (ERC), which will depend on the terms of your individual mortgage product.

For customers on a follow-on rate, Standard Variable Rate (SVR) or tracker rate mortgage, you can make unlimited overpayments and these do not attract an early repayment charge.

What is the maximum mortgage term with Santander?

While the average mortgage term is generally around 25 years, the maximum term with a Santander mortgage is 40 years. However, the end of the mortgage term must not exceed the oldest applicant's 75th birthday. This means that to benefit from the full maximum term, all applicants would have to be 35 or younger when the mortgage is taken out.

What credit reference agency does Santander use?

When you are applying for a mortgage, personal loan, credit card or any other credit product, prospective lenders will carry out a credit check to assess your credit worthiness and the level of risk you represent to them. This involves looking at your credit file with one or more of the main credit reference agencies, Experian, Equifax or TransUnion. In the case of Santander, it tends to use all three agencies for its credit checks, which means it's a good idea to get an idea of your rating with each one before you make an application. One way to do this is through checkmyfile, which gives you the option to look at your reports with all of the agencies. Alternatively, you can check each one using services like ClearScore*, Credit Karma or TotallyMoney.

Does Santander offer mortgages to people with bad credit?

Santander is primarily a mainstream, prime lender and is far more likely to approve an application from people with a "good" or "excellent" credit rating from the main credit reference agencies. The main factors Santander is looking for to approve an application is an individual who:

  • isn't over indebted
  • has an established credit history
  • is on the electoral roll
  • has a good history of making repayments on an existing mortgage
  • is looking for a lower LTV mortgage

It states it may reject applicants who fail to meet these criteria. Moreover, it does not accept applicants who have ever been bankrupt.

Santander mortgage Customer Reviews

Santander scores 1.4 out of 5.0 stars on independent customer review site Trustpilot from over 3,700 reviews, ranking it as 'Bad'. It is worth pointing out that the score is not based on Santander mortgages alone and is an overall score for the banking group. Independent consumer site Which? conducted an in-depth customer satisfaction survey in which Santander mortgages scored 71%, ranking it joint 8th from a total of 16 mortgage providers. The score was based on criteria including customer service, value for money, transparency of charges and complaint handling.

Summary

Santander is a popular choice for mortgages because it is often represented in best-buy tables for its low interest rates. It also appeals to those with higher incomes who are looking for more generous income multiples. It is also useful for some customers to be able to speak to a member of staff, either in branch or over the phone when applying for, or managing, a mortgage.

 

 

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