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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.

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.

Woolwich respond to criticism with revised rates

The Woolwich have responded to criticism around their stepped tracker rate which with a current headline rate of 1.98% is one of the lowest rates available in the market. I commented on the fact that the product was restricted to mortgages between 200K and 500K severely limiting its market when I announced the new rate here a couple of weeks ago, theses restrictions have now been removed and the rate is available for loans between 5K and 1 Million now from today.

They have not chosen to address however the lengthy tie in for five years with a 2% early repayment charge which could make the product very costly in the long term.

Instead they have released a new lifetime tracker at bank base rate +2.29% with a £999 application fee available up to 70% loan to value or at +2.69% with no fee again to 70% loan to value. The new products have early repayment charges of 1% for 2 Years making them much more favourable but crucially both allow you to switch to a later fix without penalty too.

Both products would have a valuation fee of £295 for a purchase at 70% loan to value with a mortgage of 100K and lender Conveyancing fee of £126 giving an APR of 2.9% and 3.3% respectively.

As usual always read the separate Key Facts Illustration prior to making a decision on a mortgage product and to speak to a mortgage advisor call 0845 4594490.

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.

Mortgage Broker Q & A. Interest only or repayment mortgage?

In Q & A we take a look at some of the questions mortgage advisers deal with on a regular basis.

Question; what are the pitfalls and benefits of an interest only mortgage?

They say life is all about risk, and this question is a prime example.

If you want the certainty that your mortgage will be repaid as long as you keep up your payments then you should definitely take a repayment mortgage.

However if the cost is too high in the short term however you could take an interest only mortgage and move to a repayment mortgage later although you should be aware that interest paid will be dead money and not reduce your debt.

If you take an interest only mortgage in the long term you are gambling that by investing wisely you can outperform mortgage interest rates on your investment return and produce a surplus by the end of the mortgage. However if your investment does not perform as planned then there will be a shortfall which you will have to find elsewhere.

It should be remembered though that your investment will not only need to outperform mortgage interest rates as you will pay interest on the full balance of the mortgage for the full term. Whereas if you took a repayment mortgage the capital part of your payment would gradually reduce the interest element and so like for like you will repay more interest over the term on an interest only basis as well.

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.

Mortgage Broker Q & A – What’s an Offset Mortgage?

In Q & A we look at some of the questions mortgage advisers answer on a day to day basis.

Question; Whats an Offset Mortgage and how can they save me money?

Offset Mortgages have lessened in number thanks to the credit crunch but for some people they could still represent a very effective way to save money on mortgage repayments.

In an offset mortgage a savings account is held with the lender and any balance held in the savings account will be offset against the outstanding loan amount and no interest is paid on the equivalent balance of the loan. The benefit of this is that Mortgage Interest rates are generally above savings interest rates as this difference is the premium or margin the lender will make on the loan.

You are also taxed at either 20% or 40% on your savings interest (unless you don’t pay tax but let’s assume you do if you have a mortgage). This means that if you could get a savings rate of 3.5% gross and your mortgage was 4.5% for example then the real return on your savings would be either 2.8% or 2.1% after tax. That would mean that for every £1000 in the offset account you would be better off by either £17 or £24 a year in this scenario and your mortgage payments could be reduced by £45 per £1000.

But it doesn’t end there, you can usually either use the offset to reduce the term of your mortgage or your monthly repayments. If you reduce the payments but deposit the savings into the offset the balance will increase accelerating the reduction of your interest payments and increasing savings month on month but it also can be used as a way of effectively paying lump sums off a mortgage with the added benefit that these can be easily accessed should you have a rainy day!

For more information on Offset Mortgages call a mortgage advisor on 0845 4594490 for advice.

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.

Woolwich announce their lowest ever flexible mortgage rate

The Woolwich have announced a new tracker at 1.48% above base rate for the first year then reverting to 2.49% above base rate for life giving their lowest ever headline mortgage rate of 1.98% currently. The product has a minimum loan of £200,000 and maximum of £500,000 so it is quite restrictive, early repayment charges are 2% until the 31/01/2013 meaning it does tie you into the rate for some time as well.

The product has a £999 arrangement fee, and based on a loan of £200,000 at 60% a valuation fee of £415, lender Conveyancing fee of £126, land registry fee of £280 and completion fee of £35 while APR is 3.0%.

The biggest caveat to this product is that the option to switch to a Woolwich fixed rate without penalty during the early repayment charge period which Woolwich call “drop lock” does NOT apply to this product, so while its headline rate may be very tempting if there are significant rises in interest rates particularly in the second and subsequent years of the mortgage it could become very costly indeed particularly as early repayment charges on a minimum loan of 200K would amount to four thousand pounds as well!

For this reason I would thoroughly recommend speaking to a mortgage advisor or seeking mortgage advice about the suitability of this product if it has your interest, and as usual read the Key Facts Illustration prior to making any decision on a mortgage product.

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. There may be a fee for mortgage advice. The amount will depend upon your circumstances but it is typically £200 or up to a maximum of 1.5% of the loan value. Some buy to let and commercial loans are not regulated by the Financial Services Authority.


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