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Whether you are a doctor, dentist, nurse or radiographer, NHS workers can sometimes find it hard to get the mortgage they need.
Low pay in some roles can make raising a deposit challenging, while complicated pay structures and contracts can mean even the best paid doctors may struggle to get approved for mortgages they know they can afford.
Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on a loan or any other debt secured on it
Can you get an NHS mortgage?
While there are no ‘NHS mortgages’ specifically designed for all NHS staff, certain lenders will cater towards the needs of NHS workers. These might have a more flexible approach when assessing applications as they may look favourably on certain professions, such as NHS workers. Job security and, depending on the role, strong potential for earnings growth, make for reliable borrowers.
There are also a number of schemes designed to make homeownership more affordable that NHS workers can apply for.
Mortgages for NHS staff
There are a very limited number of lenders offering schemes specifically for doctors and clinicians working in the NHS. Doctors are likely to be eligible for professional mortgages from specialist lenders.
These deals offer borrowers in certain professions, such as medical doctors, dentists and pharmacists, access to enhanced income multiples and a more flexible approach to underwriting. This means that, whereas a lender will typically only lend 4.5 times your annual salary, a professional mortgage may allow for up to 5.5 times.
These deals are available from a variety of specialist lenders. Comparing all the available options is the best way to find the right provider for you.
» MORE: Am I eligible for a mortgage?
Other support NHS workers can consider
There isn’t any other home buyer support specifically for NHS workers, but you can still apply for available schemes that are available, irrespective of your occupation. These include:
Launched in the summer of 2021, the long-awaited First Homes scheme gives eligible home buyers in England discounts worth at least 30% (up to 50% in areas where house prices are highest) off certain new-builds.
To be eligible, buyers need to be purchasing their first home and have a household income of £80,000 or less (£90,000 in London). The amount of the mortgage must be at least 50% of the home price.
The intention of the First Homes scheme is to ensure local people and those providing vital services can afford to buy in the area. Local authorities can set their own eligibility criteria, which might include proving a local connection or prioritising key workers.
» MORE: What is the First Homes Scheme?
House builder discounts
House builders may offer discounts on new-build properties to key workers, including some NHS workers. This could, for example, be a £500 discount for every £25,000 of the purchase price.
Talk to your house builder about what discounts you may be eligible for before you speak to a mortgage broker or apply for a mortgage. You may also be able to use these discounts in conjunction with a Help to Buy loan.
Help to Buy: Equity Loan
This scheme is now closed to borrowers in England but is still available in Wales until March 2025. If you can pull together a 5% deposit it allows you to access a loan of up to 20% of the purchase price of the property you want to buy. The loan is interest-free for five years.
The Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme can only be used to purchase a new-build home, and the maximum property price on the scheme in Wales is £300,000..
In Scotland, the Help to Buy Affordable New-Build scheme has closed to new applicants, but there is a Low Cost Initiative for First Time Buyers. For more details, visit Gov.Scot. Alternative options are also available in Northern Ireland, by visiting nidirect.gov.uk.
If you can’t afford to buy your own home, you can instead buy a share in one. Shared ownership enables first-time buyers to purchase part of a new-build property from a housing association and then pay rent to it on the remainder.
Over time, shared ownership participants can increase their share up to 100% through a process known as staircasing. When you reach 100%, you will no longer pay rent. Service charges may still apply for some properties, and for others lease restrictions may limit you to owning a maximum of 80%.
This scheme lets tenants of council or housing association properties in England buy a share in their home. You can start off with a 25% stake and can increase this up to 100% when you can afford it. The rent you pay on the property drops as your share in your home grows.
Northern Ireland runs its own House Sales Scheme, where tenants of social housing landlords have the right to buy their homes at a discount.
The 5% mortgage guarantee scheme
To encourage more lenders to offer 95% LTV loans, the government launched its 5% mortgage guarantee scheme. It is meant to encourage lenders to offer loans to first-time buyers and home movers with just a 5% deposit, which means the lender takes on more risk than on a loan with a larger deposit. To help new buyers, the government has agreed to compensate the lenders for any losses that occur as a result of offering the higher-risk loans.
How to apply for a mortgage
You can apply directly to high street lenders for most mortgages. However, if affordability is likely to be an issue or if you think you will require a specialist lender, you may find it helpful to speak to a mortgage adviser, also called a broker.
After a thorough assessment of your position, a broker will be able to recommend a lender that is likely to approve your application. This can spare you the stress – and damage to your credit history – of getting your application rejected, and also ensures you get the best value deal.
Buyers of new-builds will also be able to get information about relevant home buyer schemes and discounts from their house builder, lenders or brokers.
If you are interested in shared ownership, you can search online for properties in your area. To view or apply, you will need to contact the relevant housing association.
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