Getting a mortgage

What is a fixed rate mortgage?

5 min read

Fixed rate mortgages are one of the most popular mortgage products out there, but what are they and what happens when the contract comes to an end? Read on to find out all about fixed rate mortgages.

  • Abigail Bolton Senior Digital Website and Content Marketing Executive
    Abigail Bolton

    Senior Digital Marketing Executive

    Published April 24th 2023

lovely modern house to buy with a fixed rate or variable mortgage

As a mortgage payment has a good chance of being your biggest monthly expenditure, it’s a very good idea to know the ins and outs of the different types of products on offer. Fixed rate mortgages are one of the most popular mortgage products out there, but you may be wondering what they are, and what happens when my fixed rate mortgage ends? In fact, in a recent survey, 35% of people claimed they don’t know how to find the best mortgage. Whether you’re buying a house for the first time or looking to remortgage, read on for all the information you need.

In this article:

What is a fixed rate mortgage?

With a fixed rate mortgage, you sign into a contract to get a guaranteed interest rate which means your monthly payments are fixed for the term of your deal. There are more fixed rate mortgages available on the market than anything else, with homeowners enjoying the security and subsequent peace of mind they offer. This is because there’s no chance of your monthly payment increasing during the term of your contract, like with other products available.

How long can you fix a mortgage for?

Fixed rate mortgages are most commonly set for between two and five years. There are products on offer for longer, so you could secure a seven or 10 year fixed rate mortgage if you wanted to. However, interest rates tend to be higher the longer your term. This is so the lender can guard against potential fluctuations in the market. Should the Bank of England base rate increase significantly, your lender would lose out if you were locked into a low-interest deal for many more years to come.

Of course, this would be to your benefit as the customer, which is why some people like to pay a higher rate now with the prospect of reaping the rewards in the future. There’s no right or wrong answer if you’re wondering how long to fix your mortgage for. A two year deal can be a great way to keep your monthly payments as low as possible, which can be good for first time buyers or if you’re thinking of moving home. On the other hand, you may prefer the long-term security of a five year fixed rate mortgage, which would mean you don’t have to worry about remortgaging for longer.

What happens when the fixed period ends?

At the end of your fixed term, your mortgage automatically switches to a standard variable rate (SVR) mortgage. This is set by each individual lender, and can go up or down at any point. The interest rate is usually considerably higher than during your fixed term, with the average SVR in 2019 around the 8% mark. This is compared to an average two year fixed mortgage rate of around 6%, making your monthly payments significantly higher. That’s why it often makes great financial sense to remortgage before your fixed period comes to an end. You can do this up to six months before your deal is due to finish, whether you’re sticking with your current provider or moving to another lender.

Find out more about your options when your fixed term mortgage comes to an end

Can you change mortgage before the fixed term ends?

If you want to switch your mortgage before the six month period when you’re allowed to remortgage, there are likely to be fees involved. Usually, early repayment charges are calculated by how much you’re repaying, which could be a large sum of money, especially if you haven’t had your home for very long. This is why a shorter fixed term can be a good idea if you’re thinking of moving in the near future. If not, look out for products which have low early repayment charges, or even better, none at all.

Fixed vs variable rate mortgages

With a variable rate mortgage, your monthly repayment is subject to change due to fluctuations in the interest rate. Discount and tracker mortgages are examples of variable rate deals, which are usually cheaper that fixed term mortgages. This is because they offer less security. Having said that, fierce competition between lenders means there are lots of fixed rate mortgages offering great value at the moment. This can mean you get the cheapest price along with the greatest peace of mind.

Fixed rate mortgage pros

  • Best for budgeting and planning future finances due to guaranteed monthly payments for set amount of time

  • Your future payments can’t be influenced by fluctuations in the financial market, such as the Bank of England base rate

Fixed rate mortgage cons

  • You won’t benefit from falling interest rates, as your monthly payments are set for your fixed term

  • There are usually costs involved with early repayment, which can be a problem if you decide to move home during your fixed term

  • You must keep remortgaging when each fixed term expires, which involves things like organising valuations, credit checks and arrangement fees

Is a fixed rate mortgage right for me?

Fixed rate mortgages offer great security for the duration of your contract, which lots of people like for their monthly budget. The length of the deal you go for or if you even decide to go for one at all is a personal choice though. If you want some more advice, or you’re looking for a conveyancer to help you with your fixed rate mortgage, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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