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Is a 10 year fixed rate mortgage a good idea and should you get one?

10 Year fixed rate mortgages have been reducing significantly in cost, and for the first time in the UK it’s now possible to get a pretty competitive rate fixed for 10 years but the big question is; should you get one?

Question 1- Is a fixed rate even appropriate for you?

Forget 10 years. Should you even have a fixed rate mortgage?

Lots of people are caught out by significant early repayment penalties due to not properly considering the question of their long term plans before buying.

Will you be moving home, repaying large balances early, hoping to raise significant additional finance from the property or could you be eligible for better deals in the short term if your own circumstances improve?

Before even considering a fixed rate mortgage you should take a look at our guide to fixed rate products and see how they work versus other types of rates, and pay real consideration to whether the points above could leave you paying redemption penalties of many thousands of pounds.

You should definitely speak to an independent mortgage broker like us as well.

Question 2 – Will fixing for 10 years be competitive long term?

If you had a crystal ball you could answer this question, but no one can see into the future.

When a lender prices a product it’s either based on the cost of loaning that money from another bank or investor and turning it into mortgages or on the expected rate of interest they will pay to their own depositors over that time.

So the simple fact is that a fixed rate mortgage will be priced based on the expectations of what will happen to interest rates over the term and the Bank will be expecting to profit.

That means the current glut of competitive long term fixed deals indicate that the banks expect a prolonged period of relatively low interest rates in the UK well into the future.

So like odds given by bookies, most banks won’t be expecting average interest rates over the fixed period to be higher than the rate they are offering you. So you are in effect betting against the bank, but they have to be known to be quite spectacularly wrong in the past.

The smaller your mortgage though, and the shorter the remaining term (for someone on a repayment or capital and interest mortgage) the less differences in rate will impact long term cost.

Because of this for each loan there will come a point as remaining term decreases when small differences in rates are outweighed by the repeated fees and charges involved in refinancing a mortgage, and changing product regularly becomes poor value for money.

This is very case specific, but once your mortgage reaches that point the potential downsides of long term fixes may become insignificant.

Question 3 – So who should take a 10 year fixed rate mortgage?

If you are very worried about increases in costs, have no circumstances that would indicate other rates like variables could be preferable, and very sure that the early repayment penalties won’t be likely to cause an issue then you just need to decide whether you feel it’s worthwhile gambling long term and risking paying more than you might need to or whether to take a short term product in the hope that you can secure another competitive rate again in a few years.

This decision is mainly going to come down to the margin between short term fixed rates and long term ones and the probability that changes to your own circumstances make better deals available to you in the short term (such as better income making more competitive lenders available, or works to a property decreasing your loan to value), and whether you feel the additional cost is good value for the extra security.

A mortgage advisor such as ourselves will discuss your circumstances with you and give guidance on whether a fixed product is really more appropriate for you. If a fixed rate is the best option for you, but it comes down purely to a decision between long and short term deals then this is very much a decision best made by the customer, but at least we can present to you the best options available over the different periods so you can make a more informed decision between them.

If you’d like to know what the best deals available to you both in the short and long term could be then complete out enquiry form and an advisor will contact you, to discuss your options and provide you with advice.

Get your fix quick. The downgrading of UK banks likely to increase fixed mortgage rates

If you have been thinking about fixing your mortgage by remortgaging to a new deal then now really might be the prime time to do it.

Fixed rate mortgages have been dropping steadily for several months with the expectation that interest rates in the UK are now likely to remain low in the long term. However the downgrading of several major banking groups in the UK by the rating agency Moody’s last week is likely to put pressure on the big UK mortgage lenders to increase the cost of these deals.

It could be a flash in the pan though, rates were beginning to rise early this year when the economic outlook was less gloomy but the effects of the Tsunami in Japan and the subsequent concerns over the Eurozone were enough to revert the trend.

What is certain though is that there are fixed rate mortgages available which are several percent lower than the average mortgage interest rate paid by borrowers over the last 25 years so if you are concerned by the possibility of higher rates and don’t have too much to lose by switching to a fixed rate deal there have definitely been far worse times to take a fixed rate.

Does a fixed rate mortgage make sense in the current market?

This is probably the biggest mortgage related question on everyone’s lips at the moment and it is certainly very difficult to tell what is going to happen with interest rates. I can remember a conversation with a client almost 18 months ago where media coverage suggested interest rates were going to shoot up and they were worried the tracker product I had recommended might end up being very expensive.

In my opinion the question of whether to fix your interest rate comes in two parts. Firstly your attitude to risk should be taken into account and the severity of the risk assessed too. If you have ample income to afford higher interest rates then it comes down to your preference as to whether to gamble on variable type products, but if you simply couldn’t afford for your mortgage payments to go above current figures then not only should you be considering a fixed rate but also trying to reduce your borrowing levels asap.

The second part of the answer comes down to the difference between fixed rates and variable products, if the difference between a suitable variable product and a fixed is relatively low then even if you are a little risk averse it may be worth opting for a fixed rate. However when the difference is greater it becomes harder to say.

Let’s compare for example a 5 year deal currently on offer with one lender of 6.49% with a 25% deposit, compared to their 2 year fixed and 18month tracker product this is 3-4% higher and this means the chances of it being good value for money long term are much lower as it would require average interest rates over the next five years to be over 5% or so which is a big increase from current rates, hence I would only really recommend this scenario to someone who was really on the borderline of what they can afford and needed absolute long term security.

Many lenders are touting products with an option to switch to a fixed deal at a later date without early repayment charges, but for those who would be at serious risk of being unable to afford their mortgage if rates went up this is probably a poor option, as the reality is that fixed deals available at the time are likely to be higher than now as well.

It remains quite likely that while interest rates must increase at some point, that overall market competition will do too and to some extent increases in bank base rate are likely to be met with at least some reduction in lenders margins. Current two year fixed deals come with an average margin of about 3% over the bank base rate which would have been unthinkable three years ago, so at some point slowly but surely these differences must be eroded by competition as the market improves too.

Woolwich announce new low fee fixed rate products up to 75% loan to value

The Woolwich announced several new fixed rate products yesterday which herald the return of low fee sensible rate mortgage products to the market at what will surely prove to a pivotal moment in the UK’s turn from recession to recovery.

The rates which include a 2 Year fixed at 3.89% available up to 70% loan to value and at 4.09% up to 75% loan to value have an application fee of just £199 with free valuation and legal work on remortgages or £200 cash back towards legal costs if using your own solicitors. Early repayment charges apply of 3% of loan to be paid until 31/01/2012, and APR for the products is 2.8% On both.

They have also included a 3 year fixed product at a similarly competitive rate.

This is a big departure from the glut of products currently offering headline rates with either £995 or even 2% arrangement fee’s and will surely serve to kickstart the lending industry back into competitive pricing with more than just on paper rate cuts.

The products are also available on new purchases and equally competitive there although the lenders standard valuation and legal fee’s will apply on purchases.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or any other debt secured on it. We do not usually charge a fee for mortgage advice although you do have the option to pay up to 1.5% of the loan amount. Some buy to let and commercial loans are not regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

Alliance & Leicester reduce 2 Year Fixed rates

A&L have announced further rate reductions yesterday on their 75% loan to value 2 year fixed rates for new purchases. The new product with a £995 fee and fixed rate of 4.53% sits alongside their 4.48% product with a 1% arrangement fee.

The new rate brings them once again into line with rates from the Abbey however the product will be of potential benefit to those who have recently gone self employed or started a business as A&L require only 1 Years accounts minimum against 2 from the Abbey. It also has a free valuation much like Abbeys three year fix at the same rate.

The move continues the trend of lenders moving their products down to a similar baseline but with no one currently undercutting the market significantly unlike what we have seen with variable rates from HSBC and the Woolwich although swap rates have not dropped in the same fashion as 3 month LIBOR which fuelled the reduction in variable rates.

The new rates have an APR of 5.1% and reversion rate currently stands at 4.99%. Early repayment charges are 3% of loan to be paid until 31/12/2011 and lenders Conveyancing fee is typically £189.

Always consult the Key Facts Illustration prior to making a decision on a mortgage product and seek independent advice. To speak to a mortgage advisor call 0845 4594490.

Alliance & Leicester reduce 3 year fixed remortgage rates

Alliance & Leicester have announced a reduction to 4.88% for their 3 year fixed rates up to 70% loan to value with either a 1% or £995 arrangement fee. The rate then reverts to 4.99% currently giving an APR of 5.2%.

Valuation fee’s are refunded on completion up to a property value of £1 Million and would be £280 based on borrowing of £100k at 70% LTV. Applicable fee’s are lenders Conveyancing fee of £189, Telegraphic transfer fee of £30 and early repayment charges of 3% of loan to be paid until 30/11/2012.

Whilst this brings them into line with offerings from Abbey it is still some .4% off the current products on offer from the Woolwich.

As usual always consult a Key Facts Illustration before making a decision about a mortgage. For further information on this product or any others please contact us on 0845 4594490 to speak to a mortgage broker.

Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or any other debt secured on it. We do not usually charge a fee for mortgage advice although you do have the option to pay up to 1.5% of the loan amount. Some buy to let and commercial loans are not regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

New rates announced by Cheltenham & Gloucester

Further to last week’s post Cheltenham & Gloucester have announced a new product at 90% Loan to Value and a reduction in their five year fixed rates at 85% loan to value.

The new 5 Year fixed rate at 7.19% doesn’t look particularly appetising on paper with a £995 arrangement fee, Early repayment charges staggered at 5% in the first two years and then 4,3 & 2% consecutively for the remaining years, a valuation fee of £300 based on a loan of £100K, with APR at 4.8% and a reversion rate currently at 2.5% but it does reflect the general easing of criteria and willingness to lend at higher loan to value.

Again the reduction of .1% on their existing five year fixed rate at 85% loan to value won’t have Mortgage Brokers dancing in the streets but is a very small step in the right direction. It now has a five year fixed rate of 6.89%, £995 arrangement fee, Early repayment charges staggered at 5% in the first two years and then 4,3 & 2% consecutively for the remaining years, a valuation fee of £300 based on a loan of £100K, with APR at 4.6% and a reversion rate currently at 2.5%.

As usual refer to the Key Facts Illustration before making a decision on a Mortgage and seek independent Mortgage Advice to ensure the product is suitable.

Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or any other debt secured on it. We do not usually charge a fee for mortgage advice although you do have the option to pay up to 1.5% of the loan amount. Some buy to let and commercial loans are not regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

Woolwich have more good news for Mortgage Brokers

Woolwich have announced changes to their 4.19% fixed rate until 31/10/2011 Mortgage product at 70% Loan to value.

The product was previously restricted to a maximum borrowing of £200,000 and a minimum borrowing of £100,000. The amendments now allow maximum borrowing of £1 million and minimum borrowing of £50,000 opening the product up to a much wider audience to the delight of Mortgage Brokers and borrowers alike.

The product remains the same otherwise with a £499 arrangement fee. The APR is 2.5% and reversion rate currently 1.99%. Based on a loan of £100,000 other applicable fee’s are a valuation fee of £295, land registry fee of £200, lender Conveyancing fee of £126 and a £35 completion fee. Early repayment charges are 3% of the outstanding loan if the mortgage is repaid before 31/10/2011.

As usual consult a mortgage advisor or mortgage broker and request a Key Facts Illustration about the mortgage prior to making a decision.

Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or any other debt secured on it. We do not usually charge a fee for mortgage advice although you do have the option to pay up to 1.5% of the loan amount. Some buy to let and commercial loans are not regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

Hedging your bets? Switch and Fix.

I wrote recently about the tough decision some people are having to take about whether to fix their mortgage now or wait on their standard variable rate rises and with today’s announcement that base rate will stay unchanged at 0.5% the decision hasn’t got any easier.

There is however a nifty product currently being offered by Nationwide Building Society (one of the few lenders still touting for new business) which allows you to take one of their current tracker products now and switch it to a fixed rate whenever you choose without incurring early repayment charges.

Other providers have similar offerings however there is a difference which sets them apart. The Nationwide will allow you to switch to a fixed rate based on the Loan to Value of the valuation taken when you arrange your tracker, which means that if value’s continue to fall you will not be locked out of new deals.

You will have to pay a second arrangement fee however and you will be restricted to the fixed rates available when you decide to change which could be higher than those available now but if you aren’t sure which way to turn at least this offers a get out clause which normal tracker products will not.

THINK CAREFULLY BEFORE SECURING OTHER DEBTS AGAINST YOUR HOME. YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE OR ANY OTHER DEBT SECURED ON IT. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY A FEE FOR OUR SERVICES AS WE RECEIVE COMMISSION FROM LENDERS. IF YOU PREFER YOU CAN PAY 1% FEE ON COMPLETION AND WE WILL PAY ANY COMMISSION WE RECEIVE TO YOU. SOME BUY TO LET AND COMMERCIAL LOANS ARE NOT REGULATED BY THE FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY
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