First Mortgage

Office address: 30 Walker Street, Edinburgh EH3 7HR 
Year established: 1997 
Company type: financial services 
Employees: 100+ 
Expertise: buy-to-let mortgages, contractor mortgages, first-time buyer mortgages, help to buy scheme, moving home, new build, remortgages, right to buy mortgage, shared equity mortgage, polish mortgage advice 
Parent company: Mortgage Advice Bureau 
Director and key people: Ian McGrail (director), Amanda Reid (head of development), Bob Steel (manager), Ben Riley (sales director), Antony Stackhouse (director), Lesley Barr (manager), Scott Parry (manager) 
Financing status: corporate backed or acquired   

First Mortgage is a mortgage broker based in Edinburgh that provides free mortgage advice, catering to first-time buyers, remortgaging, and buy-to-let customers without any fees. The company emphasises customer service, offering tools like mortgage calculators and comprehensive guides to simplify the mortgage process. It has over 100 employees, with a network that includes over 40 branches across the UK.    

History of First Mortgage 

First Mortgage was founded in 1997 by former director Robert Lawrence McGrail, with a mission to make mortgage advice accessible and free for everyone nationwide. Established in Scotland, the company opened branches in key locations which has helped develop their services and coverage. Their approach is designed to be straightforward and supportive, ensuring customers receive the guidance they need efficiently. 

First Mortgage introduced its Mortgage Promise, a commitment to paying the customer £500 if they find a better identical mortgage offer elsewhere. The company successfully facilitated approximately £2 billion in mortgage financing for its clients in 2018. In 2019, Mortgage Advice Bureau (MAB) acquired 80% of its stake for £16.5 million, keeping First Mortgage's brand and Ian McGrail as the new director.   

Products and Services of First Mortgage 

First Mortgage offers its clients a variety of mortgage-related services, with an emphasis on customer satisfaction and quick transactions. Key offerings include: 

  • first time buyer mortgage: assists first-time homeowners in navigating the complex process of buying their first home 
  • remortgage services: offers options for those looking to refinance their existing mortgage to better terms 
  • buy to let mortgage: tailored for investors looking to enter the property rental market 
  • help to buy scheme: supports clients in accessing government schemes to purchase new homes 
  • new build: specialised mortgages designed for purchasing newly constructed properties   

Culture at First Mortgage 

First Mortgage upholds a culture centred on providing stress-free, fee-free mortgage advice, ensuring clients can access the best possible mortgage deals without any associated costs. Their customer-centric approach includes handling all aspects of the mortgage process, such as paperwork and coordination with related parties, to simplify the client's experience. This philosophy is bolstered by their commitment to personalised service, as they tailor their advice to meet individual financial circumstances.  

First Mortgage actively engages in community support and charity, notably through sports sponsorships, fundraising events, and direct contributions to local charities in the North East. Specific initiatives that they are involved in include: 

  • sponsorship of local sports teams like Dunston UTS FC and Whickham FC 

  • participation in Oor Wullie’s BIG Bucket Trail to support Scottish children's hospitals 

  • organisation of charity football tournaments to raise funds for cancer support   

About First Mortgage Managing Director Ian McGrail and Key People 

Ian McGrail has served as the director of First Mortgage since 2019. Before the company’s acquisition, McGrail was managing director at First Mortgage and worked alongside his father, Robert McGrail. His academic background includes attending George Heriots School. 

Helping McGrail in operating the company is a team of professionals. Key individuals include: 

  • Amanda Reid, as head of development, spearheads new business strategies and product development initiatives 

  • Bob Steel, serving as mortgage development and academy manager, focuses on training and developing new mortgage advisers 

  • Ben Riley, sales director for First Mortgage NE, drives the sales team towards achieving exceptional customer service and sales targets 

  • Antony Stackhouse, as propositions and partnership director, manages partnerships and product propositions to enhance service offerings 

  • Lesley Barr, a regional development manager, oversees regional operations, ensuring alignment with company standards 

  • Scott Parry, serves as senior client relations manager, ensuring high standards of client satisfaction and service quality   

The Future at First Mortgage 

First Mortgage's future looks promising as it continues to integrate community engagement and technological advancements into its core operations. The company's involvement in local sports sponsorships and charity events not only boosts its public image but also strengthens community ties. These activities aim to improve the mortgage process, position First Mortgage to attract a broader client base and potentially lead to increased market share. 

In April 2024, First Mortgage hosted the "First Time Buyer Event" in the North East, a gathering aimed at assisting new entrants into the housing market. The event featured a diverse range of exhibitors, including real estate experts, mortgage advisers, and legal professionals, providing insights and advice on the home-buying process. These activities seek to help the company’s growth through community engagement and establishing itself as a trusted educational resource in the housing market. 

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