A fixed-rate mortgage has an interest rate that remains unchanged – or is fixed – for a set period of time. How long it's fixed for depends on the type of deal you choose. For example, you could have a:
1 year fixed-rate mortgage
3 year fixed-rate mortgage
Because the interest rate on a fixed-rate mortgage stays the same, your monthly repayments don’t change during the fixed term period.
In comparison, if you have a variable-rate mortgage, the interest rate can change at any point. Such fluctuations can make it harder to budget, as you don't know how much your mortgage repayments will be from month to month.
A fixed-rate deal means your mortgage will have fixed rate of interest for a set term. Your monthly repayments will stay the same during that period, no matter what happens to the base rate or your lender’s standard variable rate (SVR).
The main benefit of having a fixed interest mortgage is that your repayments will remain the same if rates go up, saving you money, whereas other mortgages would become more expensive. This makes it much easier to budget.
However, it does mean that if interest rates fall, you won't benefit from a decrease in your monthly payments.
Dean Wickett, Mortgage Expert at Mojo Mortgages, said: “How long you should fix your mortgage rate for, whether that’s two, five or even 10 years, is a personal decision, and depends on your circumstances and how long you want to live in that property.”
Whether you want to go for a fixed-rate mortgage or variable-rate mortgage depends on your personal circumstances and attitude to risk.
A key benefit of a fixed-rate mortgage is that you know exactly how much you'll monthly repayments will be during the deal. This makes it much easier to budget for your mortgage payments and provides peace-of-mind as you don't need to worry about them increasing if rates rise.
However, you also won't benefit from a price decrease if rates fall. Plus, fixed-rate mortgages generally have higher initial rates than variable-rate deals. Although the rates are subject to change on a variable deal, so you need to make sure you could afford the repayments if they increased significantly.
With mortgage interest rates having risen significantly 2022, you'll no doubt want to find the best fixed-rate mortgage possible. It's obviously important to look at the initial rate - this determines how much your monthly repayments will be so you want it to be as low as possible.
The bigger the deposit, generally the better rates you'll be offered as lenders will see you as less of a risk. So, try to save as large a deposit as you can afford.
When comparing mortgage deals, you should also consider which mortgage term best suits your situation. With a shorter term, you could switch mortgages sooner, which may be helpful. But, with a longer term, you get the security of knowing what your repayments are for a more extended period.
It's also very important to look at the repayments and fees involved, to try to find the cheapest fixed-rate mortgage available. One deal might have a lower initial rate, but the fees involved might make it more expensive than another option overall.
In the current fast-changing market, it's worth speaking to a mortgage adviser who can help find the best mortgage rates for you. They can also advise you on other aspects of the deal that you may not have considered, such as additional fees.
As with all mortgages, the larger your deposit, generally the better the deal you'll get.
That's because the more money you're putting into the house, the less of a risk it is for the lender, so they are more likely to offer you a cheaper mortgage.
Usually the best mortgage rates are available for mortgages with a 60% loan-to-value (LTV), which means putting down a 40% deposit. However, even if this is outside your budget, trying to save an additional 5% in your deposit might just help you access better rates.
When you get to end of your fixed-rate mortgage term, you'll be moved on to your lender's standard variable rate (SVR). This is normally more expensive than the rate you've been paying and is also subject to change so could be increased.
For those reasons, when most people reach the end of their deal, they remortgage to either another fixed-rate mortgage or a variable-rate deal (such as a tracker or discount mortgage). You can switch mortgage providers (remortgage) or stay with the same lender (product transfer).
However, while being on the SVR is more expensive, it is usually the most flexible option as you won't be subject to ERCs. So, if you're planning to move soon it can sometimes be worth remaining on the SVR for a short period of time.
Yes, you technically can leave a fixed-rate mortgage early by remortgaging to a new deal. However, you'll likely be subject to early repayment fees which can amount to thousands of pounds.
There are a couple of reasons you may want to leave your fixed-rate mortgage early:
You want to get a better mortgage deal
You want to move home
If you want to leave your deal early in order to take advantage of a better rate, make sure to crunch the numbers to see whether the savings will benefit you enough to be worth paying any ERCs.
However, if your fixed-rate deal is due to end within the next six months, you may be able to lock in a new rate now and switch when your deal ends, avoiding any ERCs. This is because most mortgage offers are valid for six months.
If you're moving home, you may have the option of porting your mortgage onto your new property. However, this isn't always the best option so it's worth speaking to a broker about the best option for you.
If you like the security of knowing what your monthly payments will be for a set amount of time, then a fixed-rate mortgage could be a good option for you.
The potential downside to getting a fixed-rate mortgage is that your interest rates won’t be affected if the economy changes, meaning you may end up paying more than you would on a variable rate.
Because of their protection against rate rises, fixed-rate mortgages tend to have higher interest rates than variable-rate mortgages.
However, remember that variable-rate mortgages might be cheaper at first, but if rates rise they could end up being more expensive than a fixed deal.
Yes, but many lenders will charge you for this. Fixed-rate mortgages usually charge a penalty if you overpay by more than 10% of the outstanding balance each year or if you switch your mortgage before the initial rate ends.
SVR mortgages may charge you a higher interest rate, but there is usually no cap on how much you can overpay.
The amount you can borrow with a fixed-rate mortgage will be the same as for most other types of mortgage and will depend on factors such as the size of your deposit and your credit score.
If you want to borrow more money on your mortgage at a later date, you’ll need to talk to your lender. You may either need to apply for a further advance or remortgage. If you remortgage, you may have to pay an early repayment charge.
Yes, many fixed-rate mortgages are portable should you want to move home before the end of your mortgage term. However, this will depend on the lender.
Also, porting a mortgage isn't always the best or cheapest option. If you need to move home before the end of the mortgage term, you may want to speak to a mortgage adviser to discuss the different options available to you.
No, once you’re locked into a fixed-rate mortgage, your interest rate will remain the same for the duration of the term. It’s only after that point that the rate (and your monthly repayments) could rise.
Getting a fixed-rate mortgage with bad credit can be more of a challenge, but it’s certainly not impossible. If your credit score is low, it can be worth talking to a mortgage broker who will know which lenders who offer bad credit mortgages and are more likely to accept you.
The most common fixed-rate mortgages tend to last from two to five years. However, you can get deals that last 10 years, or even longer in some cases.
Although a lower interest rate means lower monthly repayments, the length of the fixed term and any product fees can also affect how much it costs. You should consider all these element when looking for the best fixed-rate mortgage for you.
money.co.uk is not a mortgage intermediary and makes introductions to Mojo Mortgages to provide mortgage solutions.
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