How Long Should I Fix My Mortgage For?
After more than a decade of low interest rates, the cost of having a mortgage is on the rise. The Bank of England’s base rate, which sets the benchmark for interest rates across the UK, has increased nine times over 2022. In December 2021 it stood at just 0.1%, compared to 3.5% a year later. It’s now at a level not seen since 2008.
If you’re a first time buyer, all this uncertainty in the market might leave you wondering whether to fix your mortgage and how long to fix it for. To make your decision that little bit easier, we’ve weighed up the pros and cons of fixing your mortgage interest rate and explored the alternatives.
Pros and Cons of fixing your mortgage
Pros of fixing your mortgage
Protection against interest rate increases
You may save money on fees
You’re protected from changing criteria
You’re protected from changing circumstances
Cons of fixing your mortgage
Your monthly payments may be higher.
You may pay a penalty if you move.
You may face an early repayment charge if you pay your mortgage off early
What are the pros of fixing your mortgage?
1. Protection against interest rate increases
When you fix your mortgage, you essentially lock yourself into today’s interest rate for a set period of time. It won’t matter whether interest rates go up or down, you’ll keep paying the same amount until your fixed rate period ends.
2. You may save money on fees
Every time you remortgage your home, you may have to pay fees to do so. For example, some lenders charge an arrangement fee, which can set you back hundreds of pounds. Sticking with the same mortgage for many years will help you reduce the amount you spend on fees. However, if you’re able to remortgage to a better deal, paying the fee can be worth it in the long run, so always seek advice from a mortgage broker.
3. You’re protected from changing criteria
Lenders will sometimes tighten their affordability criteria, making it harder for existing borrowers to remortgage. If you’re locked into a fixed-rate deal, this isn’t something you need to worry about until your fix is over.
4. You’re protected from changing circumstances
Fixed rate mortgages can also protect you if your own circumstances change.
Let’s imagine you buy a home when you’re in full-time employment but you become self-employed 6-months after completion. If you’ve not fixed your mortgage, you may struggle to secure a new deal in the near future. This is because lenders often have tighter criteria for self-employed applicants — particularly those who haven’t been working for themselves for long.
Whereas if you fix your mortgage for 5 years, for example, you won’t need to worry about meeting lenders’ criteria during that period. In this scenario, by the time your fixed rate ends your business will hopefully be well established and you’ll pass lenders’ affordability checks with flying colours.
Another example is if you want to remortgage or fix your mortgage while pregnant or on maternity leave. It’s possible to get a mortgage when you’re having a baby, but lenders will want to see evidence that you’ll be able to afford the repayments if your income is lower or you have to factor childcare costs into your budget. You can learn more about this in our guide to getting a mortgage when you’re on maternity leave.
What are the cons of fixing your mortgage?
1. Your monthly payments may be higher
Fixing has so many advantages that it tends to come at a cost. Your monthly payments will often be higher on a fixed-rate mortgage than they would be if you opted for a variable rate. This may sound counterproductive, but you’re essentially paying a premium for stability and protection.
2. You may pay a penalty if you move.
If you want to move house 3 years into a 5 year fix, you may have to pay a penalty. Some mortgage deals are portable, meaning you can take them with you to your new home at no extra cost, but others will see you having to pay to exit your fix early.
3. Want to pay your mortgage early? You may face an early repayment charge
If you get a pay rise, inheritance or lottery win during your mortgage term, you may decide to pay the rest of your mortgage off early. This can save you thousands in interest, but it can result in an early repayment charge (ERC). Most lenders will let you overpay a certain amount each year (often up to 10% of the remaining mortgage balance) at no extra charge. Overpay more than this, and you may have to pay an ERC. You might also have to pay a charge if you’re a joint owner of the property but you’d like to buy the other person out of the house.
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Is it better to fix your mortgage for 2 years, 5 years or 10 years?
Whether it’s better to fix your mortgage to a 2, 5 or 10 year fixed rate deal all depends on you and your circumstances. Fixing your mortgage for 2 years can give you certainty and stability in the short-term, but can also be the right choice if you plan on only staying in your home for a few years. A 5 year fix may seem like a long time, but you’d be surprised at how quickly the years pass once you’re in your own home.
A 10 year fixed rate mortgage can give you even more protection and peace of mind, although note that interest rates are usually higher. If you know you’ll be staying in your home for a decade or more, or you feel that the years ahead are going to be bumpy, this could be the right option for you. But if interest rates fall after you’ve fixed your mortgage, you may end up paying more interest than if you’d fixed for a shorter term or stuck with a variable rate. If you find you want to leave before 10 years, you may face an early repayment charge and potentially a penalty.
How long should I fix my mortgage for in 2023?
When deciding how long you should fix your mortgage for in 2023, there are a few things to consider to decide what option is best for you:
- How long do you plan to stay in the property? If this is your forever home or you have a good idea how long you’ll live there, fixing your mortgage could be a smart move. You won’t need to worry about remortgaging or paying fees to port the mortgage to another property.
- How much risk can you cope with? We all have our own attitude to risk. Some people feel comfortable taking financial risks if there’s a chance they’ll be better off. Others are risk-averse and don’t sleep soundly at night unless they’re financially secure. Before making a decision, think about how financial uncertainty makes you feel.
- What is the market like? The Bank of England’s base rate increased dramatically over 2022, following a decade of very low interest rates. In response, many mortgage lenders hiked their fixes up to 5% - 6% at the end of 2022. Reassuringly, some of these fixes are starting to come down. This is despite the BoE introducing further base rate rises. In our mortgage predictions for 2023, we anticipated 2023 will see mortgage interest rates returning to the typical 4%-4.5% level seen over the past four years. We've already seen some lenders offering fixed rate mortgage deals under 4%.
Navigating a volatile mortgage market can be challenging to do alone, so it’s a good idea to speak to a mortgage broker. Here at Tembo, our team of award-winning mortgage brokers will explore what options are available to you, potential ways to get lower interest rates through specialist schemes and how the market might impact you. We might also suggest solutions you’d never have thought of if you were making the decision by yourself. Talk to our team today.
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Is a fixed-rate mortgage worth it?
Whether a fixed rate mortgage is worth it for you all depends on you, your financial situation and your feelings about money. If you’re someone who likes security and stability, fixing your mortgage can be worth it — even if you end up paying more than you would on a variable rate in the long run. You’ll be able to budget several months in advance and you’ll hopefully sleep soundly at night knowing your mortgage payments won’t fluctuate from one month to the next. For those who are risk-adverse, for this reason a fixed rate mortgage can give you peace of mind.
But for those who are more comfortable with risk, going onto a variable rate mortgage can be a better option. It can be cheaper in the long run to have a variable rate mortgage, although your monthly payments may fluctuate in the amount you pay month to month. You can go onto a variable rate mortgage, and then choose to fix when mortgage interest rates go down later down the line, securing a lower rate. However, they could also go up in this time period, which is why it depends if you are comfortable taking this risk, and have the cash to cope with the amount you pay each month fluctuating.
If you’re ready to get the ball rolling and find the right mortgage for you, get in touch with Tembo. Buying with a small deposit or worried you won’t pass lenders’ affordability checks? We can help with that too. We’re experts when it comes to alternative ways to get on the ladder. So whether you’re interested in exploring options like guarantor mortgages, private equity loans or shared ownership, or want to know what options are available, kickstart your journey with Tembo today by making a plan.
What happens when my 5-year fixed mortgage ends?
When your fixed mortgage ends, you’ll be moved onto your lender’s standard variable rate (SVR). At this point you might decide to do nothing and pay the SVR, or remortgage to a better deal. It’s a good idea to compare mortgages before choosing a new one. A mortgage broker can help you compare a wide range of mortgage deals from across the market before selecting the right one for you.
Is it worth it to break a fixed mortgage?
Breaking a fixed mortgage can be expensive. You may have to pay charges to exit your deal early. However, if you’re moving to a better deal and the overall cost of your new mortgage will be lower, this can quickly cover the cost of the fees.
What is the best term to fix a mortgage?
The best mortgage term for one person won’t be the best term for another. To find out which fixed term is right for you, it’s a good idea to talk to a mortgage broker.
Still unsure what is right for you? Talk to Tembo
Whether you want to talk through the different options, or find how much you could borrow through a specialise scheme, our team of award-winning are here to help. We specialise in helping buyers discover how much they could afford, working with over 100 mortgage lenders to find you the best interest rates across the market on any given day. To get started, all you have to do is create a plan.