What is happening to the UK property market
Whether you’re applying for your first mortgage, or you’re already a homeowner, you’ll know there’s a lot of news coverage about interest rates, inflation and mortgage loans right now.
So what’s happening, and why? How it might affect you will depend on what type of mortgage deal you’re looking for, or the type of deal you’re on – and how much longer is left on the term of your loan.
Plus, forecasts on rising interest rates are changing quickly, along with wider economic conditions. No one knows for sure what’s ahead, but we’re still seeing tens of thousands of people requesting to view properties each day, which is the same level that we’ve seen all month.
So if you are thinking of moving, or if your mortgage term is coming to an end soon, here we’ve tried to help answer some of the questions you might have.
Why are mortgage rates rising now?
Before this week, mortgage rates had already been increasing throughout the year. The Bank of England sets the ‘base rate’, which lenders use to set their own mortgage rates. In January of this year, the base rate was 0.25%. Since then, it has gone up incrementally and is currently 2.25%.
The Government sets the Bank of England an inflation target of 2%, but the current rate is 9.9%. It’s the Bank of England’s responsibility to make sure inflation is low and stable, so they need to bring inflation back down. The way they do that is by increasing interest rates.
The Bank of England forecasts inflation to rise to about 11% in October, and that it will stay above 10% for a few months before starting to fall.
Rising interest rates have led to an increase in the average mortgage rates that are available. As an example, if you have a 10% deposit and choose to take out a two-year fixed rate mortgage, the typical rate that was available in January was 2%. That increased to an average of 3.9% at the end of August. These rises had been predicted and lenders were able to factor them in gradually.
Mortgage rates have been rising further this week because when unexpected things happen in financial markets, they’re likely to have a direct impact. Last Friday (23rd September), the Chancellor’s mini-budget unveiled the biggest tax cuts for 50 years, including a stamp duty cut for home-movers in England and Northern Ireland.
This has resulted in a lot of speculation about how these cuts might impact the UK’s finances. The value of the pound has seen record falls, which is likely to drive inflation up further. As a result, it’s widely believed that the Bank of England may need to raise interest rates faster and higher than previously forecasted.
At the minute, there’s a suggestion from the financial markets that the bank base rate could rise to 5.8% by next spring. This has impacted the underlying costs of fixed-rate mortgages. This is why some lenders have repriced deals and others have temporarily removed some or all of their products. Some of the lenders who have withdrawn products are expected to return with new deals in the coming days and weeks.
How might increasing interest rates affect my mortgage?
If you’re a first-time buyer, moving home, or remortgaging, it’s likely you’ll be impacted by the changes. If you have a fixed-rate deal, the good news is that it will be business as usual, and your monthly repayments won’t change, at least until your current deal ends.
If you don’t do anything, at the end of your deal you’ll automatically move on to the lender’s Standard Variable Rate (SVR). These rates tend to be higher than other mortgage rates and are generally changed to reflect movements in the Bank of England’s base rate.
Take a look at how your repayments would change if you have a 25-year mortgage term and are looking at a fixed-rate for £200,000, based on rates increasing from between 2% to 6%.
|Fixed mortgage rate (£200,000 over 25 years)||Monthly payments||Increase in monthly payments|
If you’re among the estimated 15% of borrowers with a variable or a tracker mortgage, your monthly outgoings will almost certainly go up. The interest rate paid on tracker mortgages is usually anchored against the bank base rate plus a set percentage. For example, the current base rate of 2.25%, plus 1%, would mean you’d be paying 3.25% interest right now.
Can I still get a fixed-rate mortgage deal now?
Some lenders have withdrawn their fixed-rate products, while others have increased their prices in response to the rapidly changing costs of their funding. But it’s definitely worth finding out what your options are.
If you’re on a tracker or a variable mortgage, you could shop around to see if you can find a cheaper option with a fixed-rate mortgage. However, you might have to pay an early repayment charge first. You could speak to a qualified mortgage broker or adviser if you’re unsure which options would be best for your individual circumstances.
I’m on a fixed rate, what are my options when my deal ends?
If your fixed-rate deal is due to end within the next six months, you could see what your options are for locking in a deal now.
Many lenders will allow existing customers to apply for new deals up to six months before their current rate ends without having to pay an early repayment charge. This is often called ‘product transfer’ or ‘switching’. This is a relatively easy process as you’re staying with your existing lender, so you won’t need a solicitor or a property valuation, and there’s no need to prove your income.
If you’re looking to move lenders – whether you’re remortgaging or moving home – you may want to start well before your fixed-rate deal ends, as the application process can take several months or more.
There is so much fluctuation in the mortgage market right now, you might want to look at what your lender has to offer or speak to a mortgage broker to find out which deals are available to you.