First Direct was the most consistently competitive mortgage lender during the first quarter of 2010, according to Evaluate Technologies.
First Direct received a score of 19, narrowly ahead of rivals including Post Office on 18 and Alliance & Leicester on 15 in Evaluate Technologies' analysis.
However, five of the top 10 lenders came from just two groups with First Direct and HSBC at number one and joint seventh while Santander, Alliance & Leicester and Abbey for Intermediaries came in at third, sixth and joint seventh.
The analysis is good news for the broker market - Alliance & Leicester and Abbey for Intermediaries only sell through brokers, demonstrating that the sector has access to many of the best deals.
The results bore bad news for the Government-backed lenders. During the three months to March 31, NatWest offered just three best buys while Royal Bank of Scotland and Northern Rock managed one each. Bank of China, which only launched in the UK in the summer of 2009, offered two best buys. None of the Lloyds Banking Group mortgage brands including Halifax, Cheltenham & Gloucester and Bank of Scotland offered any deals rated as best buys.
Jim Barrowman, national accounts director at Evaluate Technologies, said: "It is encouraging to see change in the most competitive lenders list with no one firm dominating on a consistent basis.
"However it is clear that HSBC/First Direct and the Santander group of lenders are dominating the best buys. It is encouraging to see Yorkshire Building Society making the top 10 and Principality maintaining its position.
"Further down the best buy list it is also good to see Bank of China emerging along with regional building societies such as Leek and Melton. The absence of Lloyds Banking Group is a disappointment. Increased competition in the mortgage market is the key to continued recovery in 2010 and a return to growth in the market."