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Contact Your Local Branch

BELFAST, CITY CENTRE: 028 9013 7392
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DROMORE: 028 9210 6060
LISBURN: 028 9279 4300
GLENGORMLEY: 028 9072 7636
ARMAGH: 028 3743 0770
LURGAN: 028 3898 4004
DUNGANNON: 028 8747 0270
COALISLAND: 075 6180 7334
COOKSTOWN: 028 8673 1055

Exploring the Different Types of Mortgages Available

by | May 4, 2024 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

In today’s dynamic housing market, understanding the different mortgage types available is crucial for securing the most suitable deal for your financial needs. Although all mortgages operate on a basic principle of borrowing against property, the specifics such as interest rates, repayment methods, and associated fees can vary significantly across different products. Thus, selecting the best mortgage transcends merely opting for the lowest interest rate; it involves finding a mortgage that aligns perfectly with your financial circumstances. To aid in this decision-making process, The Mortgage Clinic Lurgan has compiled a comprehensive guide that explains the various mortgage options available in the UK. This guide not only details the types but also discusses their advantages and disadvantages.

We will start by differentiating between the two primary mortgage categories—repayment and interest-only mortgages—and proceed to explain the nuances of variable and fixed-rate mortgages, which fall under the repayment mortgage umbrella.

Interest-Only Mortgage vs. Repayment Mortgage

Most mortgages in the market are classified as repayment mortgages, with the exception of interest-only options. Here’s a deeper look into how each functions:

What is a Repayment Mortgage?

A repayment mortgage is designed to gradually reduce the debt over the loan’s term. With each monthly payment, you not only cover the interest accrued but also repay a portion of the principal amount borrowed. This method ensures that by the end of the mortgage term, you have fully paid off the loan and own your home outright.

This type of mortgage also offers flexibility if you decide to move; you can either settle the outstanding loan and secure a new mortgage, or transfer your existing mortgage to a new property, a process known as “porting”.

Repayment mortgages are the standard in the housing market, making them suitable for any homebuyer aiming to build equity and eventually own their property outright.

What is an Interest-Only Mortgage?

In contrast, an interest-only mortgage requires payments on the interest only throughout the mortgage term, without reducing the principal balance. The full loan amount remains due at the term’s end, necessitating a robust repayment plan, such as from savings, investment returns, or the sale of the property.

The primary benefit of this mortgage type is significantly lower monthly payments compared to other products. However, it requires diligent financial planning to accumulate sufficient funds by the end of the mortgage term to settle the principal. The total cost of an interest-only mortgage will generally exceed that of a repayment mortgage over time due to ongoing interest payments on the initial loan amount.

This mortgage is most suited for buyers who prefer lower monthly outgoings and are confident in their ability to repay the lump sum through planned financial strategies or property sale at the term’s end.

Variable-Rate Mortgage vs. Fixed-Rate Mortgage

Variable-rate mortgages and fixed-rate mortgages are both subtypes of repayment mortgages, but they differ fundamentally in how the interest rate affecting your monthly payments is determined.

What is a Fixed-Rate Mortgage?

A fixed-rate mortgage offers the stability of a constant interest rate over a specified period, typically two to five years. This rate does not change regardless of fluctuations in the broader financial market or changes in the Bank of England base rate. By locking in your mortgage rate, you gain the certainty of knowing exactly what you will pay each month, making budgeting easier and more predictable.

This type of mortgage is particularly attractive to first-time buyers or homeowners who prefer to have a consistent payment schedule during the initial years of homeownership. The downside, however, is that fixed-rate mortgages often come with higher early repayment charges, and you won’t benefit from any drops in interest rates during the lock-in period.

What is a Variable Rate Mortgage?

Unlike fixed-rate mortgages, the interest rate on a variable rate mortgage can change at any time during the loan term, affecting your monthly mortgage payments. This type of mortgage is influenced by factors such as the Bank of England’s base rate and other economic conditions.

Variable rate mortgages come in several forms, including standard variable rate (SVR), tracker, discount, and capped-rate mortgages:

  • Standard Variable Rate (SVR): This is the default rate your mortgage reverts to after the end of an initial fixed, tracker, or discount rate deal. SVRs are set by the lender and can be higher or lower than the initial rate, depending on market conditions.
  • Tracker Mortgage: This product’s interest rate directly follows the Bank of England base rate plus a set margin. If the base rate goes down, so does your interest rate; if it goes up, your rate will increase accordingly.
  • Discount Mortgage: Offers a reduction on the lender’s SVR for a certain period, which means it can change as the SVR changes.
  • Capped-Rate Mortgage: Similar to a tracker but with a cap that ensures the interest rate will not exceed a certain level, no matter how high the base rate goes.

Variable rate mortgages offer flexibility and potential savings when interest rates fall but pose a risk when rates rise, making them best suited for those who can accommodate fluctuations in their monthly budget.

Transitioning from Fixed-Rate to Standard Variable Rate

After the initial fixed-rate period concludes on a mortgage, borrowers typically transition to their lender’s standard variable rate (SVR), which often results in higher interest rates and monthly payments. To avoid this increase, many homeowners opt to remortgage—switching to a new mortgage deal that offers better terms.

Why Consider Remortgaging?

Remortgaging can be a strategic move to:

  • Secure a lower interest rate.
  • Reduce monthly mortgage payments.
  • Adjust the term of the mortgage, either shortening it to pay off the loan faster or extending it to reduce monthly payments.
  • Release equity from the property for home improvements or other significant expenditures.

The Mortgage Clinic Lurgan offers guidance through the remortgaging process, helping you evaluate whether it’s the right time to switch and how you can benefit from the best new mortgage deals available.

Who Should Consider a Fixed-Rate Mortgage?

Fixed-rate mortgages are ideal for:

  • First-time buyers seeking stability in their initial homeownership years.
  • Homeowners who prefer to budget with certainty, without worrying about interest rate increases.
  • Individuals who anticipate interest rate hikes and prefer to lock in a lower rate beforehand.
  • Understanding when to switch from a fixed-rate to a more advantageous deal requires careful consideration of market conditions and personal financial situations. 

Our experts at The Mortgage Clinic Lurgan are ready to assist you in making informed decisions that align with your long-term financial goals.

Exploring Other Mortgage Types: Tracker, Offset, and Flexible Mortgages

Each type of mortgage offers unique features and benefits suited to different financial needs and goals. Here’s an overview of tracker, offset, and flexible mortgages:

What is a Tracker Mortgage?

A tracker mortgage directly follows the Bank of England base rate, plus a set margin determined by the lender. For instance, if the base rate is 0.5%, and the margin set by your lender is 3%, your interest rate would be 3.5%. This means your payments decrease when the base rate falls and increase when it rises.

Tracker mortgages are typically offered with introductory deals that last a few years but can also be found in ‘lifetime’ versions, which last for the duration of the loan. This type of mortgage is best suited for those who anticipate a decrease in base rates and are financially prepared to handle potential increases.

What is an Offset Mortgage?

An offset mortgage links your savings to your mortgage; the money in your savings account is counted against your mortgage balance, reducing the interest you pay each month. 

This mortgage type can significantly reduce the amount of interest you pay over time. Borrowers can choose to lower their monthly payments or keep payments the same and shorten the mortgage term. Offset mortgages are particularly appealing to those with substantial savings who might not otherwise earn much interest on their deposits due to low savings rates.

What is a Flexible Mortgage?

Flexible mortgages offer the ability to overpay, underpay, and sometimes take payment holidays, providing significant control over your finances. This type of mortgage calculates interest daily, which means any overpayments reduce the mortgage balance faster, consequently lowering the interest due.

The flexibility to adjust payments based on your financial situation makes this mortgage appealing for those with variable income or who anticipate periods of higher or lower earnings. Features like borrowing back overpaid amounts can also be advantageous if unexpected expenses arise.

Specialised Mortgage Options: Buy-to-Let and Joint Mortgages

What is a Buy-to-Let Mortgage?

A buy-to-let mortgage is tailored for individuals who wish to purchase property to rent it out. Unlike traditional residential mortgages, the amount you can borrow is typically determined by the potential rental income from the property rather than solely by your personal income. Most lenders require that the expected rental income exceed the mortgage payments by a certain percentage—commonly around 125%.

The fees and interest rates for buy-to-let mortgages are generally higher, and the required deposit is larger, often between 20-40% of the property’s value. These mortgages can be either interest-only or repayment, with many landlords opting for interest-only to minimise monthly costs while focusing on capital gain through property value appreciation.

What is a Joint Mortgage?

A joint mortgage allows multiple parties—typically two or more—to share the responsibility of a mortgage. This type of mortgage is often pursued by couples, but can also include friends or family members looking to purchase property together. Each applicant’s income and credit history are considered, potentially increasing the total amount that can be borrowed.

Joint mortgages can help you qualify for a larger loan or a property that might be financially out of reach for an individual. However, all parties involved must agree on their share of the property and the responsibilities for the mortgage payments, which requires clear communication and planning.

Understanding Guarantor Mortgages

A guarantor mortgage can be a valuable option for individuals who might not meet the typical lending criteria due to a lack of deposit, insufficient income, or a less-than-ideal credit history. In this arrangement, a family member or friend agrees to take on the financial responsibility if the borrower fails to make mortgage payments.

Key Features of a Guarantor Mortgage:

  • Security for the Lender: The guarantor provides security, either by offering their own property or savings as collateral, which reduces the risk for the lender.
  • Increased Borrowing Potential: By involving a guarantor, borrowers may access more favourable lending terms, including potentially borrowing up to 100% of the property value.
  • Support for the Borrower: This type of mortgage allows borrowers who might otherwise be unable to purchase a home on their own to enter the property market.
  • Responsibilities of a Guarantor:
  • Financial Backup: The guarantor must be prepared to cover mortgage payments if the borrower defaults.
  • Legal Obligations: It’s advisable for guarantors to seek independent legal advice before agreeing to the arrangement, to fully understand their commitments.
  • Guarantor mortgages are particularly suited to first-time buyers who may benefit from additional support to step onto the property ladder. At The Mortgage Clinic Lurgan, we specialise in navigating these complex arrangements and can guide both borrowers and guarantors through the process, ensuring all parties are confident and informed.

Navigating Your Mortgage Choices with The Mortgage Clinic Lurgan

Navigating the variety of mortgage options available can be daunting, but understanding each type’s distinct features and benefits is crucial to choosing the right mortgage for your specific financial situation. Whether you’re a first-time buyer, looking to invest in property, or considering a joint purchase with others, The Mortgage Clinic Lurgan is here to help.

From the standard repayment and interest-only mortgages to more specialised options like buy-to-let and guarantor mortgages, our expert team is dedicated to providing personalised advice and support. We ensure you understand all your options so you can make the best decision for your future.

Remember, choosing the right mortgage is about more than just securing a loan; it’s about paving the way for your financial future. Contact The Mortgage Clinic Lurgan today to discuss your mortgage needs and how we can assist you in achieving your homeownership goals.

Helmut Elstner

Managing Director – Independent Mortgage Broker and Insurance Advisor

Helmut started working in financial services in early 2012 and founded The Mortgage Clinic in Belfast in early 2015. He specialises in all types of mortgages from First Time Buyer, Co-ownership, Self Build, Home Movers, Remortgages, Debt consolidation, to Buy to Let.

Three Best Rated Winner 2021
Winner Mortgage Broker of the year 2020
Top Rated Advisor 2021 on Vouchedfor