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Monthly mortgage repayments: fixing the cost

about 3 years ago

For many of us, knowing what our monthly bills are going to be provides a comforting level of security and while many costs vary month-on-month – such as gas and electricity – having a set mortgage repayment is achievable.

Mortgage rates: why do they matter?

Every mortgage has an associated rate of interest – the amount charged by the lender for the privilege of loaning the buyer money. As a simple example, for every £10 loaned, the borrower will pay the bank £11 back – an extra pound for providing the loan. Actually, how much is repaid depends on the rate of interest set by the lender – and this figure is influenced by the Bank of England interest rate and by wider financial conditions. 

A lender has the right to increase – or decrease – the rate of interest applied to a loan during the term of the mortgage. In previous decades, rates of mortgage interest quickly rose from 7% to 17%, making repayments unaffordable for many homeowners.  More recently, mortgage rates have plunged to their lowest levels and it’s possible to secure a rate of around 1% in some cases. 

Every time the lender changes their mortgage interest rate – and that can be as frequently as monthly – the repayment amount will also change, becoming more or less expensive.

What is a fixed rate mortgage?

Fluctuating repayment amounts particularly affect borrowers on tracker and variable rate mortgages, as they are at the mercy of the lender’s intentions and of the Bank of England’s interest rate decisions. Fixed-rate mortgages are the truest way of knowing what your monthly mortgage repayment will be, as a fixed interest rate is agreed at the start of the loan and it will stay the same for a pre-agreed period of time.

Fixing: for how many years?

The traditional home loan term is a 25 year mortgage but there is unwavering certainty when it comes to repayment costs. 

It has now become commonplace for lenders to offer fixed mortgage interest rates for 2, 3 or 5 years, with a few 10-year fixed rate products creeping into the market. When the fixed-rate period ends, the borrower has the choice to take out a new fixed-rate product, choose an alternative home loan or revert to the lender’s standard variable rate.

Considerations when taking out a fixed-rate mortgage

Given the ups and downs of life, many borrowers love fixed rate mortgages, knowing their repayments won’t climb higher and higher every month. There are, however, some considerations that you should talk through with a mortgage adviser or your lender. These include:-

How competitive are fixed rates?

Variable rate and tracker mortgages usually carry a lower rate of interest as lenders know there is the likelihood of repayments rising. Fixed rate borrowers will see higher rates of interest set at the start, as the predetermined repayment is seen as a benefit that carries a premium. The size of your deposit will also impact what rate of interest you are offered – generally, the bigger the deposit, the lower the rate. It’s also worth comparing the total repayment costs of different fixed rate mortgages – including any arrangement fees – with other products on the market.

What happens when the Bank of England lowers its interest rate?

Lenders usually – but not always – pass on a cut in the nation’s interest rate to borrowers. That means a tracker and variable mortgage rate that was 3% may become 2.5%, bringing down the monthly repayment in the process. Borrowers with a fixed rate mortgage will not benefit from a cut – their monthly repayment will stay the same.

What happens if you want to end the mortgage early?

Sometimes fixed rates that looked good value to begin with start to look costly as new mortgages are released with lower rates. It is possible to leave a fixed rate mortgage but there could be a fee, depending on your timing. Those exiting before the fixed term expires may have to pay an early repayment charge – usually a fee between 1% and 5% of the outstanding mortgage balance.

What happens if I want to overpay?

Long-term fixed rate mortgages tie borrowers to a certain product or lender for an extended period of time. It’s worth knowing what it may cost to make overpayments during the term – establish this before you sign any loan agreement.

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