20 Apr 2021

Nationwide helps Generation Rent become Generation Buy as Society increases max loan-to-income ratio for first-time buyers

  • First major lender to offer first-time buyers ability to borrow 5.5 times salary up to 90% LTV
  • New Helping Hand option to enable homeownership for many who have been frozen out
  • Nationwide makes £1 billion available for lending on higher loan-to-income mortgages
  • Last ten years saw average first-time buyer property prices jump 41%, while income rose 18%
  • Move marks next step in Society’s plan to support those looking for a home of their own

First-time buyers have been given a helping hand as Nationwide Building Society continues its support for homeowners by increasing the amount it will lend to those looking to get onto the housing ladder.

From later this month (26 April 2021), Britain’s second largest mortgage provider is launching its ‘Helping Hand’ mortgage, enabling first-time buyers the option of borrowing up to 5.5 times their income when taking a five or ten-year fixed rate up to 90% LTV – the most currently offered by any major high street lender.

In the UK there are 4.5 million households in the private rental sector1 and home ownership amongst 25 to 34-year olds has fallen from 55% to 35% in the two decades from 19972. Many renters still aspire to own their own home, but affordability remains one of the key issues stopping many from getting on the housing ladder. In the last ten years the average price of a first-time buyer property has increased by 41 per cent, while the average income has risen by just 18 per cent.

There will be £1 billion of lending available via Helping Hand in order to support more first-time buyers onto the property ladder. The Society will apply a lower stress rate and higher maximum loan-to-income ratio where applicants opt for one of the Society’s standard five or ten-year fixed rate products. This will enable an uplift in affordability of up to 20%, allowing more people to buy their first property up to a maximum 90% LTV.

The change means a first-time buyer couple with a joint income of £50,000 can now borrow up to £275,000 with Helping Hand, rather than the £225,000 they could borrow previously, assuming a 10% deposit and no other costs impacting affordability.

The average first-time buyer property price in the UK is £196,2233. However, this varies widely across the country4 with the average first-time buyer property in London standing at £416,682, compared to just £110,556 in the North region.

First-time buyers using Helping Hand for enhanced affordability will have access to the standard product range, with consistent product rates, fees and features. All first-time buyers benefit from £500 cashback on completion of their mortgage.

All applications will be subject to robust underwriting checks, including full assessment of credit score and additional credit commitments, to ensure the Society continues to lend responsibly.

In the last financial year, Nationwide helped one in six first-time buyers and has expanded its higher LTV lending to house purchasers and existing members moving home.

Henry Jordan, Director of Mortgages at Nationwide Building Society, said: “Nationwide was founded to help people into homes of their own and that remains the case as much today as it did 135 years ago. In the UK there are nearly five million private rented households, but many of these renters have dreams and aspirations of buying a home of their own. However, with household incomes rising at a slower rate than house prices, many first-time buyers are finding it increasingly hard to get onto the property ladder. Our new Helping Hand option supports borrowers in meeting the affordability requirements, making it easier for them to buy a home of their own.”

Notes to editors

1 Source: Office for National Statistics - UK private rented sector - Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)

2 Source: Institute for Fiscal Studies – Barriers to homeownership for young adults - Institute For Fiscal Studies - IFS.

3 Source: Nationwide House Price Index - Nationwide HPI News - Data & Resources (nationwidehousepriceindex.co.uk)

4 Average First Time Buyer Property Prices:


Q1 2021





Yorkshire & Humber



North West



East Midlands



West Midland



East Anglia



Outer South East



Outer Metropolitan






South West









Northern Ireland






Additional Criteria

  • Helping Hand will be available on standard purchase house and flats. It will not be available on shared ownership mortgages
  • Helping Hand is not available for self-employed applicants