What Is A Secured Loan? An Experts Guide to Homeowner Loans

David Allan

Written by David Allan on May 14, 2018

Updated June 19, 2019

Secured loans advisor

When it comes to borrowing money, lenders want to have a level of trust that you will be able to pay it back. Secured loans are a way for people to borrow a sum of money, which is secured against an asset such as a property over 3 to 35 years. Like a mortgage, this method of borrowing means that if you fail to keep up with the repayments of the loan, the lender can take possession of the property you secured the loan against.

Secured loans can offer a range of advantages and disadvantages.

To help determine whether a secured loan is right for you, we have put together our no-nonsense guide to secured loans to help you make an informed decision.

Before searching for secured loans or any other form of a loan, it is worthwhile getting a credit report. You need to know what your credit score says about you, and if there are any issues that you can fix before potential lenders look at it. A broker like Smart Money will carry out a soft credit search in order to find potential lenders before making an formal application.

What is a secured loan?

Like your mortgage, a secured loan is a loan that requires you to provide a level of security to the lender so that they will not lose out financially if you cannot repay the loan. Usually, the asset used for security will be a home, which is why secured loans can often be referred to as a homeowner loan.

As well as a homeowner loan, secured loans may also be referred to as a home equity loan or a secured debt consolidation loan. It is important to remember that not all debt consolidation loans are secured, however. If you acquire a loan against your property and don’t have a mortgage, then the secured loan may be referred to as a first-charge loan. If you do have a mortgage, then a secured loan may be called a second mortgage or a second-charge loan.

Make sure you choose the right type of loan for your needs. Before opting for one loan, make sure you know the pros and cons of each loan – reading practical guides such as this one can help before you end up with a loan that doesn’t suit your needs. There are many second charge lenders within the market, most of whom you’ll need to use a broker to apply with them.

Infographic: Secured loans for homeowners

Infographic: Secured loans for homeowners explained

Infographic: Secured loans for homeowners explained

How much can I borrow against my property?

How much can you borrow against your property?

How much can you borrow against your property?

Usually, secured loans are available so that you can borrow a more considerable sum of money. While secured loans tend to start at around £3,000, most secured loans are for lending over £10,000. Secured loans allow you to borrow more substantial sums of money because lenders have collateral to cover the loan if you cannot pay it back.

A secured loan typically has cheaper loan terms and interest rates as they are less risky to loan providers as they can repossess your asset should you not be able to pay the debt back. However, what it less dangerous to the loan provider could be more risky to the borrower. After all, like a mortgage you could lose property via repossession if you do not keep up with your loan repayments, or fail to repay what you owe.

While the amount you can borrow is usually high for a secured loan, it is essential to consider how much you actually need. Remember, if you cannot meet the repayments and fall behind in arrears, then the loan provider has the right to repossess the property you used as security. This means you may lose your home in the worst case senario.

Loan Calculator – how much will it cost?

This calculator will give you an idea of costs. The exact amount and APR payable will be provided from the lender subject to credit and affordability checks.

Your monthly payment will be:


Interest on this loan will be:


Annual Percentage Rate (APR):


Total repaid will be:

>> Get a Secured Loan Quote Today From Smart Money

Loan to value

Your home will be valued to establish how much equity you have

Your home will be valued to establish how much equity you have

Like a mortgage, a secured loan is secured against the available equity in your home. There are a handful of lenders who borrow up to 95% loan to value, and some who will borrow at 100% with additional security. These high loan to value products come with much higher rates of interest when compared to 85% or 70% loan-to-value products for example. The role of the loan broker as part of the fact finding is to establish an estimate of the available equity and to discuss with you how much you could potentially borrow based upon the figures. At this time they will also provide details on the lenders and rates available given the information provided.

Home valuation

As part of the application your home will be valued by a qualified surveyor in order to establish the true value of your property. The valuation will then be used by the lender in order to assess the available equity within the property to lend against.

When you are ready to apply for a loan, always make sure to complete the application form carefully. Take your time and double check every detail. If you provide information that is wrong, even by accident, then the provider may refuse your application, and a failed application will leave a mark on your credit score which could impact the next lender you approach. Your broker will be on hand to assist you, and provide guidance on the information you need to gather to complete the application.

What are secured loans generally used for?

Secured loans can be used for a number of different (legal) reasons, and as the lender has an asset as security for the loan, they are often very flexible in what the loan can be used for. Some people use a secured loan for expenses such as;

A secured loan can be used for a range of financial needs, but it is essential to consider the risk fully. Is the reason you are borrowing for worth losing your home or another item of value over? Putting your home at risk for a luxury expense may not be the best idea if you have any doubts on your ability to repay the loan.

Always consider the long-term as much as the short-term. Borrowing may seem like a good idea now, but consider whether borrowing will help you in the long-term. It may mean you are worse of financially in the future and there may be a better alternative. Check your sums and your budget carefully.

Secured loans vs unsecured loans

Unlike secured loans, unsecured loans allow you to borrow money without using an asset as security. Unsecured loans are considered a higher risk to loan providers. With this in mind, loan providers will often set higher interest rates and fees for unsecured loans. However, if you cannot keep up with repayments on a secured loan, then the provider can take possession of your assets.

It is worth pointing out that your assets may be seized in an unsecured loan too. However, loan providers must seek permission from the court and are usually only done if your debts are considered unsustainable and long-term.

Another importance difference between a secured loan and unsecured loan is the amount you can borrow. Typically, unsecured loan providers will not be willing to lend as much as they would for a secured loan. Many providers have a limit of £30,000 for an unsecured (personal) loan while secured loans may be willing to lend over £200,000 or more depending on the value of your asset or free equity of your home. Some lenders will provide loans of up to £2 million if your property has high value and you can afford to meet the repayments.

Considerations when choosing between a secured and unsecured loan

How long you need to repay the debt

Usually secured loan providers will give a longer loan term so that you can spread your repayment. Secured loan terms may be up to 35 years while an unsecured loan is typically around five to seven years maximum.

Amount of interest you can afford

A secured loan will often be a better deal in terms of lower interest rates. However, if you want to repay your loan back early, you could potenailly suffer from an early repayment charge (ERC’s). The broker will be able to advise if the loan product comes with any charges like this you need to be aware of.

Your credit score

As an unsecured loan is a higher risk, providers will meticulously analyse your credit score before approval. However, a perfect credit score is not as crucial for a secured loan as you have collateral in place in case you cannot repay the debt.

What you can afford to lose

If you cannot keep up with repayments with a secured loan, then you risk losing your home or another valuable asset. An unsecured loan can often be slightly more understanding, and the provider will have to go through the courts in order to repossess your assets to cover the loan.

Remember StepChange, the Money Advice Service and Citizens Advice can all help with advice and support if you are struggling with debt or repaying a loan.

Who can benefit from a secured loan?

Typically, secured loan providers will have some stipulations on who can apply for a secured loan and your broker can advise on the requirements. Different providers will vary their terms on who can qualify for a secured loan. However, typical eligibility requirements will include;

A steady income

Many providers will want to see that you can not only afford the loan but you will be able to keep up with the repayments. Most providers will need to see proof of a steady income. Providers will often have a minimum salary requirement. They will not just check to see if your income will cover the debt, they may also check whether your income can cover your monthly outgoings and the cost of repayments. Self-employed? Some lenders will know that self-employed individuals cannot always show a steady income. However, there are many lenders that have products exclusively focused on the self-employed market. Evolution Money, Promise Money and Willows Finance are just some of the loan providers who offer a secured loan product for self-employed people.

A good credit score

Your credit score is important

When applying for a secured loan, providers will usually run a credit check to see how well you manage debts, both in the past and currently. You have a higher chance of being accepted if you have a good credit score. As secured loans use an asset as the security of debt repayment, many loan providers will allow a less-than-perfect credit score and offer loans with higher rates of interest.

However, the better your credit score, the more likely it is that you will be accepted and there is more chance that you will be able to borrow a more considerable amount with more favourable terms such as a lower interest rate.

If you do have a poor credit rating and are looking for a secured loan, lenders such as United Trust Bank, Masthaven and brokers Norton Finance all claim to offer secured loans for bad credit scores.


For a secured loan, you must have a substantial asset to secure the loan against. Usually, people use their home or a buy to let property investment to secure a loan. This is why a secured loan is often referred to as a homeowner loan.

If you already have a mortgage, you are still eligible for a secured loan, but this will usually be referred to as a ‘second-charge loan’ or ‘second-charge mortgage’. A second charge mortgage means that if your home is repossessed, the first mortgage lender will have the priority to take what is owed to them, the second-charge mortgage lender will then have the second chance to claim back what is owed to them.

If you do not have a mortgage, then your secured loan may also be referred to as a first charge mortgage. If you are looking for a second-charge loan as your secured loan, then some providers offer specialist second-charge loan packages such as Feasible Loans, Smart Money, Norton Finance & Loans Warehouse.


As mentioned previously, if you already have a mortgage on your property, then you are still eligible for a secured loan. However, providers will often look for a reasonable amount of ‘free equity’ to secure their loan against. This equity is the percentage of your home that has no borrowing against it already.

Most loan providers will have a cap of the total debt secured against the value of your home. For example, if they put a cap at 85% of your home’s value. Then if your first-charge mortgage is 75% of your home value, then the second-charge mortgage will only be able to lend 10% of your home’s value. Different lenders have different caps, but remember, the higher percentage of your home’s value that you borrow, the higher loan rate you will be offered.

Your Age

There is usually an age limit for secured loans. The younger you are, the better chance you have of being accepted for a secured loan over a long repayment term. While the upper age limit for pensioners will vary between providers, you can expect a cut off age limit between 70 and 80-years-old. Most lenders accept applicants from the ages of 18 and 21.

When it comes to secured loans for pensioners, many providers will offer other products such as equity release and lifetime mortgages. All options have both positives and negatives, and it is essential to understand all possibilities entirely before making a decision.

How much does a secured loan cost?

All loan providers will offer different rates and different deals which can make working out the cost of a loan confusing. Here are a few factors that will change the cost of the borrowing for you;

  • The amount you want to borrow
  • The length of time you want to borrow for
  • Your credit score (better credit scores usually get favourable rates)
  • The amount of free equity in your home (if you use the property as security)
  • The APR
  • Admin and legal fees
  • Disbursement fees
  • Broker and setup fees
  • Early repayment fees (ERC’s)
  • Penalties for late or missed payment
  • Your asset (property, home or buy to let) if you do not repay the loan.

How to get the best deal for your secured loan

Before you begin searching for a secured loan, you need to know what you are looking for;

1. Decide how much you need to borrow

2. Check your free equity and loan to value on your property

3. Budget- work out how much you can afford for monthly repayments

4. Check your credit score and fix issues before you apply

To work out your loan to value you need to work out the balance of your existing mortgage and divide this amount by the total value of the property and then multiply by 100, this will give you a loan to value percentage. If you are unsure then speak with a broker like Smart Money who can help you do the calculations and provide you with a personalise quote.

Secured Loan Comparison

Once you have a benchmark, it is time to start conducting comparison searches to find the best deal. There are numerous ways to arrange quotes from different providers. You can start with loan comparison sites like Lending Expert, or if you feel overwhelmed, you can speak to a loan broker who can assess the market to find the best secured loan product for your needs.

Learn More
All credit types
Rated 5.0/ 5

Smart Money Why?

This provider is our Expert’s Choice in its category as it won tops marks for the following.


Learn more about how we review and assess the providers here on Lending Expert.

Loan Amount
£10,000 - £1,000,000

Representative APRC
From 7.1%

Loan Term
3 - 35 years

Loan Type
& Buy to Let

Homeowners Only
Max LTV 100%

Award winning broker of the year Smart Money have made it to the top of our list as our No 1 recommended provider for homeowner and buy to let loans. They are independent and have access to the major lenders in the market. All quotes are free and without any obligation.

Representative Example

Learn More Available via broker only
All credit types
Rated 5/ 5

Together Money

Loan Amount
£3,000 - £1,000,000

Representative APRC

Loan Term
3 - 30 years

Loan Type
& Buy to Let

Homeowners Only
Max LTV 77.5%

If you need to raise funds, for example, to make home improvements or get on top of your debts, and you have existing equity in your home, a secured loan could be the right option. Get a quote today for a personal illustration from our award winning broker.

Representative Example

Learn More Available via broker only
All credit types
Rated 5/ 5

Prestige Finance

Loan Amount
£10,000 - £2,500,000

Representative APRC
5.9 - 11.1%

Loan Term
3 - 25 years

Loan Type
& Buy to Let

Homeowners Only
Max LTV 90%

Prestige Finance has been providing loans for over 30 years to UK residents and is a specialist in providing second charge loans. Prestige Finance is a wholly owned subsidiary of OneSavings Bank Plc. Get a quote today for a personal illustration from our award winning broker.

Representative Example

Learn More Available via broker only
All credit types
Rated 5/ 5

United Trust Bank

Loan Amount
£10,000 - £125,000

Representative APRC
5.9 - 10.1%

Loan Term
3 - 30 years

Loan Type
& Buy to let

Homeowners Only
Max LTV 85%

United Trust Bank’s highly skilled and experienced specialised mortgage team offers innovative lending products through a panel of approved introducers. Get a quote today for a personal illustration from our award winning broker.

Representative Example

>> Compare Secured Loans on Lending Expert

Even if you find a suitable lender, most second charge lenders will require you to use a broker who will set up and package the loan upon their behalf. A good broker will compare lenders available and present you with the cheapest options taking into consideration your personal circumstances.

Our brokers have access to the majority of the lenders in the market and direct relationships and some exclusive rates with the most well known second charge brands in the marketplace such as:

Loan brokers work by taking a fee from the lender and they will receive payment from the customer (broker fee) for the services offered. Some brokers will only take a fee once the loan has been arranged and completed. If this is the case, you will need to factor in the cost of the broker fee within your budget or borrowing amount. Lender and broker fees can be added to the loan if you dont wish to have any upfront costs.

You can also speak directly to a small range of loan providers to find a deal. This may save you money on broker fees but may cost you in missing out on the best deals and exclusive rates offered via the broker.

It is vital to remember that when you are speaking to lots of providers or comparing many deals, they may check your credit file if you proceed with a full application and this will show up on your file. If you conduct lots of applications, it will appear that you have applied for a loan lots of times which could then hamper your credit rating and negatively impact your credit score. This could then affect your chances of being accepted for a loan in the future. Make sure you are using a quotation ‘soft search’ and check before comparing, whether it will leave an impression on your credit score or not.

Always check the loan APR amount. If you can afford the monthly repayments, a shorter repayment term will often save you money when it comes to the interest you have to pay back over the longer term.

What happens when you apply for a secured loan?

Once you have found a lender you are happy with, they will then conduct a credit search to assess your file debt management. They will also check your income and may ask for a selection of recent payslips or SA301 documents for proof. If you are self employed they may also request 2 years of business accounts and details of your accountant in order to verify your income.

As you are using your home as security, then the loan provider will check the housing registry to confirm that you are the owner. They will then check the value of the property by conducting a valuation and level of security. After all of the checks are completed, they will then be able to offer you the loan.

lenders will vary, but usually, funds can be issued to you within weeks and is generally completed in less than a month assuming there are no issues with income or valuation checks.

Before accepting a secured loan, check their early repayment fees, if there is a chance you may come into a significant amount of money in the future, then you will want to make sure it is cost-effective to pay off your loan sooner rather than later. While it may not apply to you, it is always worth checking, just in case. The broker will advise if any of the loan products come with these early repayment fees.

The benefits of a secured loan

1. You can borrow a more substantial amount for a more extended period of up to 35 years.

2. Secured loans are available to those you may be excluded from other loans such as those with bad credit, self-employed, change in personal circumstance, retired and pensioners.

3. Interest rates are usually relatively low.

4. Can be useful for debt consolidation, to reduce the amount you need to pay back.

5. Secured loans are a good alternative if you dont wish to remortgage due to low interest rates or high ERC’s (Early Repayment Charges)

The negatives of a secured loan

1. You could lose your home, or the asset you secured the loan against.

2. Consolidating your debt may make you feel flush again which could hamper your debt situation.

3. Secured loans will often have variable rates rather than fixed rates. If interest rates increase rapidly, you could be caught out.

The alternatives to a secured loan

If you do not want to risk your property for a loan, or there is a reason why a secured loan does not suit your needs, there are alternatives available. As mentioned earlier, an unsecured loan is an alternative to a secured loan but will may have more stringent requirements, such as good credit, and you may not be able to borrow as much as you could with a secured loan.

If your loan is for a big purchase

A 0% purchase credit card can be a good idea to fund big purchases such as home improvements and will give you an extended period of time of 0% interest. For example, Sainsbury’s Bank Purchase Credit Card offers 0% purchase for 28 months. Virgin Money All Round Credit Card offers 0% purchase for 30 months. Both have a Representative APR (variable) at 18.9%.

If your loan is for debt consolidation

If you want to amalgamate and repay credit card debt, then a 0% balance transfer credit card may offer you an alternative choice to a secured loan. However, most 0% balance transfer cards will require a good credit score. Barclaycard Platinum provides 35-month 0% interest for balance transfer while MBNA Platinum offers 36-month 0% interest balance transfer credit card.

If your loan is for your home

Many mortgage providers are willing to provide a further advance on your mortgage, especially if it is for a cause that could add value to your home, for example, a refurbishment or extension. If you have a good history with your mortgage provider and they can see evidence of regular, timely payments, then they are usually a good for borrowing as they may be able to come up with a flexible arrangement to suit your needs.

If you are looking for a large sum

Another option, to secure a significant amount of money is to remortgage your property entirely. For this, you need to make sure you are not locked into a mortgage deal. With many mortgage lenders on the market, you can find a great number of deals to suit you and, therefore, increase the amount you want to borrow. The best way to find a mortgage for you is to contact a mortgage broker who can help you to find the best deals.

If you have savings

Could you make use of savings before borrowing more?


Depending on your interest rates, it may be more economical to use savings to cover the debt. Usually, the interest charged on a loan is more than you will gain through savings. Instead of using savings for a rainy day, have a credit card that you can stash away for emergencies instead. This way you can reduce the amount you will pay in interest rates.

Never rush into a loan. Always take your time to assess your finances and seek professional advice where possible. When borrowing for a high purchase always ask yourself: Is this purchase essential? Then ask yourself if you can really afford it or whether there are cheaper options available to you.

>> Compare Secured Loans on Lending Expert

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