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How long should I fix my mortgage for?

How long should I fix my mortgage for?

By
Anya Gair
Last Updated 2 January 2024

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 14 times in a row. In December 2021 it stood at just 0.1%, while it's currently at 5.25% - a level not seen in around 15 years.

If you’re a first time buyer, all this uncertainty in the market might leave you wondering whether you should fix your mortgage and how long to fix your mortgage for. To make your decision that little bit easier, we’ve weighed up the pros and cons of fixing your mortgage interest rate in this guide.

In this guide

How long should I fix my mortgage for in 2024? 

When deciding how long you should fix your mortgage for in 2024, 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 happening with mortgage rates? The Bank of England’s base rate increased dramatically over 2023, following a decade of very low interest rates. In response, many mortgage lenders hiked their fixes up to 5% - 6%. Although interest rates have been coming down since August 2023, they are still above the typical 4-5% mark.

Navigating a volatile mortgage market can be challenging to do alone, so it’s a good idea to speak to an experienced 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. Get started today.

Read more: What are mortgage interest rates and what is a good mortgage interest rate?

What is the average fixed mortgage interest rate?

Currently, the average 2 year fixed mortgage rate is around 5.95%, while the average 5 year fixed mortgage rate is around 5.57% - based off a standard residential mortgage. However, fixed rates are normally much higher for specialist mortgages and longer fixed periods.

Is now a good time to fix my mortgage?

Mortgage rates have been slowly declining since the start of August 2023. The average 2 year fixed rate mortgage now stands at 5.95%, while the average 5 year fixed rate stands at 5.57%, down from 6.85% and 6.37% respectively. This is comparable to the 5-6% levels we saw at the end of 2022 after the mini-budget, and rates are expected to continue to drop.

Although this is higher than the more typical 4-4.5% mark, that doesn't mean now isn't a good time to fix your mortgage and buy a house. If you want to buy soon, there are ways to get access to lower mortgage interest rates or get a bigger mortgage.

Sticking with a variable rate mortgage might also be risky in the current climate. The Bank of England has raised its base rate 14 times in a row this year. Every time the Bank of England increases the base rate, rates on variable rate mortgages will increase too, which will make repayments more expensive.

The Bank of England has repeatedly increased the base rate in an attempt to get inflation under control - the target is to get inflation down to 2%. If this is achieved, it's likely the base rate will begin to decline, which could mean those who fix their mortgage now could be paying over the odds versus live rates.

Interest rates are accurate as of January 2024.

Is it better to fix my mortgage for longer?

Fixing your mortgage for longer can give you greater certainty as you'll know exactly what your mortgage repayments will be for the next 5 or 10 years. However, fixing for a longer term normally comes with higher interest rates - although rates for 5 year deals are lower than 2 year deals at the moment.

This is because mortgage lenders don't know what the market will be like in 5 or 10 years' time, so they are taking a risk by allowing you to fix your mortgage for that length of time. To help balance out this risk, they often offer higher interest rates on longer fixed rate deals than shorter ones. Higher interest rates will also make your monthly repayments more expensive, as you'll have to pay more to your mortgage lender in interest.

The other risk with fixing your mortgage for longer is current mortgage rates could end up being much lower than your fixed rate. This means you will be paying more interest each month in comparison to live interest rates.

While you can switch to a new rate, you might have to pay an early repayment charge (ERC) and possibly a penalty to leave your fixed rate deal early which can be costly.

Read more: 6 ways to get access to lower mortgage interest rates.

Should I fix my mortgage for 2 or 5 years?

Whether you should fix your mortgage for 2 or 5 years depends on you and your individual circumstances. Fixing your mortgage for 2 years can give you certainty and stability in the short-term, and can also be the right choice if you only plan on staying in your home for a few years. Plus, if rates decline over the next two years, it means you can then move onto a new rate once your deal ends.

Fixing your mortgage for 5 years can give you certainty over a longer period of time, which can be better if you plan on staying in the property for a long time. However a lot can happen over 5 years, so there is a chance mortgage interest rates could drastically change over that time, which could mean you'll end up paying more interest in comparison to live rates.

Should I fix my mortgage for 10 years?

Fixing your mortgage for 10 years can give you even more protection and peace of mind than fixing for 2 or 5 years, although interest rates are usually higher for longer fixed rate deals. 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 also have to pay an early repayment charge and potentially a penalty.

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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 rates 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.

If you fall into this category, you could remortgage onto a new deal with your current lender through a product transfer.

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 but 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. 

Learn more about how to get a cheaper mortgage here.

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. 

Read more: What is porting a mortgage and how does it work?

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.

You might be interested in: Should I pay off my mortgage early?

It can be difficult to know how long to fix a mortgage for, and whether now is a good time to fix. This is why it's best to speak to a mortgage expert like one of our award-winning team. They'll be able to advise you on the best course of action for your personal circumstances. To get started, create a free Tembo recommendation today.

Is a fixed-rate mortgage worth it?

Whether a fixed rate mortgage is worth it 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 getting your own free recommendation.

Discover what you could afford with Tembo

Our award-winning team and smart decisioning technology will find you the best mortgage scheme to boost your budget, including potential ways to get lower interest rates. All you have to do is get a personalised recommendation. It's free, only takes 10 minutes and there's no credit check involved. Get started today!

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FAQs

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 free recommendation.

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