Mortgages Update: More Lenders Cut Rates (2023)

Table of Contents
31 March: YBS Powers In With Sub-4% Five-Year Deals 30 March: Virgin Moves To Offer Market-Leading 5-year Fix 27 March: HSBC Extends Rate Cuts Across Customer Base 24 March: Surprise Inflation Rise Influences Bank Of England 21 March: Lenders Sense Bank Rate Hold On Thursday 20 March: Halifax Dips Under 4% For 75% LTV Borrowers 16 March: Brokers Say Free Childcare Will Boost Affordability 14 March: Bank Of England May Hold Key Rate At 4% Next Week 10 March: Regulator Tells Lenders To Boost Support 10 March: FCA Fears 356,000 Households Face Difficulties 9 March: Volatility Reflects Wholesale Market Trends 7 March: Residential Loan Rates Up, New-Builds Down 6 March: Existing Customers Benefit When Switching 3 March: Rising ‘Swap’ Rates Feed Through To Customers 28 February: Rising Wholesale Borrowing Costs Threaten Fixed Offers 27 February: Lenders Vie For Business As Lowest Rates Pulled 24 February: 50% LTV Tier Allows Reduction In Rates 23 February: Lenders Continue To Lower Rates 22 February: Big Guns Fight For Market Share 21 February: Lender Bucks Trend Of Cutting Rates 21 February: Competition Keeps Fixed Rates Keen 20 February: Virgin Increases Cost Of Remortgage Deals 20 February: Five-Year Fix Available Below 4% 15 February: House-Buyers Enjoy Increased Choice Of Loan Deals 14 February: 3.99% Deal Broadens Range Of Sub Bank Rate Offers 13 February: Move Comes As Lenders Continue To Cut Rates 10 February: Santander Joins Trend To Chop Fixed Rate Deals 8 February: Virgin Joins HSBC With Sub-Bank Rate 5-Year Deals 7 February: HSBC Offers 5-Year Deal Below Bank Rate 6 February: Number Of Available Deals Increasing Rapidly 2 February: Bank Rate Increase To 4% Expected But Still Painful 1 February: Competition Prompts Cuts To Attract Borrowers 31 January: BoE Sees Approvals Slump In 2022 26 January: Fixed Rates Fall At Buy-To-Let Specialist 25 January: More Big Names Cut Rates 23 January: Halifax Joins List Of Lenders Refreshing Loan Offers 19 January: Fixed Deals Proliferate Around 5% Mark January 17: Trend Reflects Optimism On Bank Rate Increases 13 January: Higher Payments And Deposits Making Ownership More Difficult 12 January: FCA Fears 750,000 Defaults 11 January: Lenders Trim Interest Charges To Tempt Borrowers 9 January: ONS Says Million-Plus Households Face Dearer Payments 6 January: Respite For Borrowers As Providers Start To Cut Fixed Rates 4 January: Cocktail Of Factors See Numbers At Lowest Since Pandemic 20 December: Support Aimed At First-Time Buyers With 5% Deposit Government schemes intended to support home ownership: 8 December: Options Include Reducing Rates Or Extending Term 4 November: Bank Rate Expected To Peak At 4.75% This Time In 2023 Market confidence 27 October: 40% Could Struggle With Mortgage Costs 28 September: Fears Over Higher Rates And Fate Of Sterling Hit Loan Availability Outlook for borrowers 22 September: Bank Rate Hiked From 1.75% To 2.25% 1 August: Scrapping of lender ‘stress test’ relaxes mortgage affordability 8 July: First Direct Launches 10-Year Fixed Rate With Unlimited Overpayments 24 June: First Mortgage Deals Launched Under Help To Build Equity Loan Scheme 23 June: Cost-Of-Living Crisis Means Fifth Of Homeowners Struggling To Pay Mortgage 20 June: Would-Be Borrowers To Face Less Onerous Scrutiny 16 June: Rate Rise To 1.25% Adds To Cost Of Living Woes 14 June: Supply Squeeze Doubles ‘Down-Valuation’ Mortgage Rejections April 27: First Direct Launches Debut 95% Mortgage Videos

31 March: YBS Powers In With Sub-4% Five-Year Deals

Yorkshire building society has unveiled a market-leading five-year fixed-rate mortgage at just 3.83% and slashed rates by up to 0.5 percentage points across its range of loans, writes Jo Thornhill.

David Hollingworth at broker London & Country Mortgages says Yorkshire is making a bold statement with its sub-4% deal and is pushing for a bigger slice of a contracting mortgage market: “It is positive news for borrowers with rates sharpening again after their recent bounce upwards.”

Yorkshire’s five-year fix at 3.83% is for remortgage borrowers with at least 25% equity in their home (75% loan to value ratio). The new rate is down from its previous 4.25%.

The deal carries a relatively steep £1,495 fee, but the rate undercuts the five-year fix at 3.91% launched by Virgin Money yesterday (30 March).

Yorkshire is also offering a five-year fix at 3.92% for home purchase customers (also at 75% LTV and with a £1,495 fee), and a fee-free two-year fix (85% LTV) at 5.12%, down from 5.62%.

Mr Hollingworth added: “This looks to be the level where fixed rates are settling now, although we may see more tweaks. There’s clearly hot competition in the market between lenders, which is helping to maintain and improve the rates on offer.”

  • Specialist lender Keystone Property Finance has cut its two-year fixed rate buy-to-let (BtL) mortgages by up to 0.4 percentage points. It is offering a two-year fix for standard BtL properties at 4.29%, and the rate for multiple occupation properties and multi-unit blocks is 4.44%. Both deals have a 4.5% fee.

See the latest information on house prices from Nationwide building society.

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30 March: Virgin Moves To Offer Market-Leading 5-year Fix

Lenders are continuing to chip away at their fixed rate mortgage deals as competition for new business remains fierce, writes Jo Thornhill.

  • Virgin Money has cut fixed rates by up to 0.33 percentage points across a range of its residential and buy-to-let (BtL) deals available through brokers. The rates are effective from tomorrow (31 March). Its five-year fix for remortgage customers at 65% LTV is cut by 0.21 percentage points to 3.91%. There is a £995 fee. It’s five-year fixed rate BtL deal (at 50% LTV) is at 4.1% with a £3,995 fee
  • Accord, part of Yorkshire Building Society, has cut rates by up to 0.64 percentage points across its high loan to value (LTV) deals, aimed at first-time buyers. It is offering a five-year fixed rate at 95% LTV at 5.06% with no fee and £250 cashback. This product is available for borrowers using the deposit unlock scheme – a private scheme run by house builders that enables buyers to get on the property ladder with a 5% cash deposit. Accord is also offering a fee-free two-year fixed rate for remortgage at 5.61% at 90% LTV with £500 cashback. The same deal for home purchase is 5.04% with a £995 fee and £500 cashback. At the same time selected fixed rates at 60% and 75% LTV have also been cut by up to 0.48 percentage points.

Gemma Hyland, Accord mortgage product manager, said: “Due to changes in market conditions driving falling swap rates, we’re reacting quickly and taking the opportunity to review our product range, to offer brokers and their clients better value.”

27 March: HSBC Extends Rate Cuts Across Customer Base

Lenders are continuing to trim mortgage rates, despite last week’s increase to the Bank of England Bank Rate last Thursday, 23 March, writes Jo Thornhill.

Here are the latest lenders to cut rates:

  • HSBC has cut its fixed rates for residential borrowers by up to 0.2 percentage points and for buy-to-let customers by up to 0.3 percentage points. It follows a rate cut for high loan to value (LTV) customers at the end of last week. The rate reductions will benefit existing borrowers, first-time buyers and movers, remortgage customers and existing and new buy-to-let customers as well as international residential customers. The lender is offering a fee-free five-year fix at 4.39% (85% LTV) and a five-year fix at 3.89% (60% LTV) with a £999 fee. Both deals are switcher deals for existing customers. The five-year fix for new customers looking to remortgage is 4.14% (60% LTV) with no fee
  • Specialist buy-to-let lender Landbay has cut its two-year fixed rate range by up to 0.14 percentage points. The two-year deal for small houses in multiple occupation and multi-unit freehold blocks is now at 4.75% (up to 75% LTV) with a 3% fee. The rate is at 5.25% with a 2% fee. Rates on two-year fixes for first-time landlords and trading companies are cut by 0.1 percentage points with a rate of 4.69% with a 3% fee (75% LTV) or at 5.19% with a 2% fee.

Despite the Bank Rate rise the market has reacted positively and swap rates – the wholesale rates at which banks lend to each other and on which fixed mortgage rates are based – have dropped to their lowest since February.

Nick Mendes at broker John Charcol said this is evidence the market expects rates to fall in the medium to long term: “Lenders had priced in this latest rate rise so there won’t be many changes to fixed rate products for now.

“With lower lending volumes expected, and swaps at healthy levels we could see lenders competing for business with lower rates, which is positive news for homeowners.”

24 March: Surprise Inflation Rise Influences Bank Of England

Lenders are continuing to push down their fixed rates as competition for new business remains fierce, writes Jo Thornhill.

A broad range of lenders have reduced rates across their home loan ranges. This is despite the Bank of England raising the Bank Rate from 4% to 4.25% this week.

  • Clydesdale Bank, part of Virgin Money, has cut fixed rates on a range of its mortgage deals by up to 0.6 percentage points and launched products for borrowers with a small deposit. It is offering a two-year fixed rate for remortgage customers at 4.74% (80% LTV) with a £1,499 fee, although there is a £1,000 cashback and free valuation. The two-year fixed rate deal for new customers is at 4.79% (90% LTV) with no fee, or 4.74% at 80% LTV with a £1,499 fee but borrowers get £1000 cashback on completion. The lender’s professional and newly-qualified professional two-year fixed deals (at 85% and 95% LTV) start from 4.39%
  • Nationwide building societyhas cut rates across its fixed and tracker mortgage range by up to 0.45 percentage points. The reductions are effective from tomorrow (24 March) across remortgage, home mover and first-time buyer deals. It is offering a five-year fix at 3.94% (60% LTV) with a £999 fee, or at 3.99% (75% LTV) with the same fee. The two-year fee-free fixed rate is at 4.49% (60% LTV). The three-year fixed-rate first-time buyer deal is 4.89% (90% LTV) with a £999 fee
  • NatWest has reduced its buy-to-let (BtL) fixed rates by up to 0.27 percentage points, while nudging up some higher LTV residential fixed rate deals. For BtL it has a five-year fix (75% LTV) at 4.62% with a £995 fee. Its BtL green mortgage five-year fix is now at 4.51% (65% LTV), also with a £995 fee. For residential fixed rates the two-year fix at 90% LTV is increased by 0.06 percentage points to 4.99% while the five-year fix has risen 0.05 percentage points to 4.58%. Both deals have a £995 fee
  • HSBC has cut fixed rates at high loan to value (LTV) ratios across its range for new and existing customers, including first-time buyer deals. But selected fixed rate deals at 75% LTV or lower have been increased. Its two-year fix for new residential mortgage customers at 80% LTV has fallen and is now 4.59%, the three-year fix is 4.54% and the five-year fix is 4.24%, also at 80% LTV
  • Coventry building society has cut its buy-to-let (BtL) fixed rates by up to 1 percentage point and residential rates by up to 0.2 percentage points. It is offering a fee-free two-year fix (80% LTV) for purchase and remortgage at 4.63% and a five-year fixed rate at 4.6% (65% LTV) with a £1,999 fee for BtL or residential remortgage customers
  • Accord Mortgages, the broker-only lender owned by Yorkshire building society, has cut fixed rates on its buy-to-let (BtL) mortgages by up to 0.29 percentage points, effective tomorrow (23 March). It has a five-year fix at 75% LTV at 5.01% for remortgage customers. It will also offer a five-year fix at 5.31% for remortgage and purchase, also at 75% LTV. It has a £1,995 fee, but this deal has no early repayment penalties. The five-year fix at 60% LTV is 4.6% with a £1,995 fee. The fee-free two-year fixed rate at 60% LTV is 5.61%.
  • Pepper Money, which specialises in borrowers with lower credit scores, has cut rates across its two- and five-year fixed-rate residential range by up to 0.9 percentage points. It is offering a five-year fixed rate for new customers at 85% LTV at 8.25% and a two-year rate at 80% LTV at 8%
  • Fleet Mortgages has cut fixed rates across its buy-to-let mortgage range by up to 0.2 percentage points. Deals are available for standard BtL, limited company borrowers and for houses of multiple occupancy (HMO). It is offering a two-year fix at 5.49% at 75% LTV and a five-year fix at 5.19% at 75% LTV. Both loans are for standard BtL and limited companies and they have a 2% fee
  • Gen H has cut fixed rates across all products at 80% LTV by up to 0.15 percentage points. It is offering first-time buyer deals at 4.64% (two-year fix) and 4.45% (five-year fix), both with a £999 fee.

Steve Cox, chief commercial officer at Fleet Mortgages, said: “Due to a combination of factors including a softening of swap rates and further movement within the sector, we’ve been able to reduce our fixed-rate pricing across the board by 0.2 percentage points.

“The Budget last week, and in particular the Office for Budget Responsibility’s inflation and interest rate forecasts, appear to have added a further layer of calm to market sentiment, with the belief that rates will now peak at a lower level than previously feared. It means we’ve been able to review our pricing and cut it accordingly.”

21 March: Lenders Sense Bank Rate Hold On Thursday

First Direct is cutting its fixed rate mortgages by up to 0.3 percentage points, following a rush of lenders who have trimmed their fixed rates down in recent days (see stories below), writes Jo Thornhill.

Many lenders are now pricing in a Bank rate ‘hold’ at 4% by the Bank of England when it announces its latest interest rate decision on Thursday (23 March).

The majority of First Direct’s rate cuts are for high loan to value (LTV) deals, helping borrowers with a smaller cash deposit or less equity in their property. All First Direct mortgages are either fee-free or come with a maximum fee of £490.

The bank is offering:

  • five-year fix at 4.99% with no fee, available up to 95% LTV
  • five-year fix at 4.64% with no fee, available up to 90% LTV
  • five-year fix at 4.49% with a £490 fee, available up to 90% LTV
  • two-year fix at 4.94% with a £490 fee, available up to 90% LTV.

Carl Watchorn, head of mortgages at First Direct, said: “We have reduced the rate of borrowing across some of our higher loan-to-value products, which is great news for first-time buyers who might be looking to buy a property with a smaller deposit.

“We understand the challenges faced by first-time buyers and we want to support people who are looking to take their first steps onto the housing ladder. We offer a range of products that provide added flexibility through features such as a 40-year term and unlimited overpayments.”

20 March: Halifax Dips Under 4% For 75% LTV Borrowers

Halifax, the biggest UK mortgage lender, has cut rates across its two, three and five-year fixed deals for remortgages by up to 0.39 percentage points, while MPowered mortgages, Skipton building society, Santander and Virgin Money have also cut rates.

The moves come ahead of the Bank of England Bank rate announcement on Thursday this week. There is growing speculation that the Bank might hold the rate at 4%, which would reduce the likelihood of recent mortgage rate falls being reversed.

  • Halifax is now offering a five-year fixed rate at under 4% at 75% loan to value (LTV). This is where the borrower has equity worth up to 25% of their property’s value. Until recently sub-4% deals have only been available to those with at least 60% LTV (40% equity). This reduced five-year deal is at 3.99% and has a £999 fee. At 60% LTV the same five-year fixed rate is now 3.94%. The lender has also cut rates on fee-free remortgage fixed rates. At 60% LTV its two-year fix is cut by the full 0.39 percentage points to 4.97%. The same deal at 75% has also been cut 0.39 percentage points to 5.02%. At 90% LTV the two-year fee-free deal has been reduced by 0.34 percentage points to 5.52%. The five-year fee-free fixed rate at 60% LTV has fallen by 0.24 percentage points to 4.29%. At 80% LTV the same deal has been cut by 0.25 percentage points to 4.71%
  • Mpowered Mortgages has cut two-year fixed remortgage deals. The fee-free deal is at 5.04% (85% LTV) and the two-year fix at the same LTV is at 4.94% with a £999 fee or 4.84% with a £1,999 fee. At the same time the lender has boosted its cashback offer on five-year fixed rates from £500 to £1,000 for remortgage customers. Purchase customers get £500 cashback on five-year fixes
  • Skipton building society has cut the rate on its five-year fix buy-to-let mortgage, while removing from the market its 75% and 80% LTV deals for existing residential mortgage customers. These changes are effective from tomorrow (21 March).
  • Santanderhas cut fixed rates for new and existing customers by up to 0.28 percentage points, effective tomorrow (21 March) for deals available through brokers. It is offering a five-year fixed rate for purchase at 3.99% (60% LTV) with a £999 fee. At 75% LTV the five-year fix is 4.15% with no fee. There is a two-year tracker deal at 6.15% (95% LTV) with no fee, for existing customers moving home. This has been cut by 0.34 percentage points. The lender has also cut rates for mortgages for new build homes by up to 0.26 percentage points. The two-and-a-half year fix for new build property is 4.89% (85% LTV) with no fee
  • Virgin Money is cutting fixed rates for residential and buy-to-let (BtL) customers. The changes will be effective from tomorrow (21 March). But selected fixed rates at 85% LTV will increase by 0.05 percentage points. Product transfer fixed rates – deals available for existing customers looking to switch – have been cut by up to 0.41 percentage points. Residential deals for purchase and remortgage for new customers are cut by up to 0.10 percentage points and BtL fixed rates are cut by up to 0.15 percentage points. The two-year fix for BtL borrowers at 60% LTV is 4.82% with a £995 fee. The same deal over five-years is 4.6%.

16 March: Brokers Say Free Childcare Will Boost Affordability

Mortgage brokers have welcomed the government’s extended free childcare scheme claiming it will boost affordability for thousands of families and help many get a foothold on the property ladder. However, they say it’s unfortunate that the changes won’t begin to take effect for at least a year.

The policy, announced by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in his Budget speech yesterday, will see an extension to the 30-hours-a-week free childcare scheme currently on offer to working families with three and four year-olds.

Under the scheme’s expansion, the 30-hours’ free childcare will be made available to eligible families with children aged nine months and over.

Childcare costs, which can run into thousands of pounds a year, have a significant impact on mortgage affordability.Mark Harris at mortgage broker SPF Private Clients said mortgage applicants with children often find they can borrow less than they envisaged once these costs have been factored into lenders’ affordability calculations.

A full time nursery place costs an average of £264 a week (£322 a week in London), according to a Family and Childcare Trust survey – and that is the cost for just one child.

David Hollingworth at mortgage broker London & Country said: “One of the biggest outgoings for borrowers is childcare. So the extension of free childcare will provide welcome relief for parents.

“That relief could be underlined when it comes to applying for a mortgage as any reduction in a big outgoing will help improve the range of mortgage options. The easier it is to meet lender criteria the easier it will be to shop around, which will help borrowers get the best overall value.”

However, the implementation of the new policy will not begin until April 2024 – and won’t apply to all under 5s until September 2025.

Mr Harris added: “As with any policy implementation it will take a while to come into force so parents should not expect any immediate relief or improvements to their borrowing potential.”

Elsewhere, mortgage lenders have continued to adjust rates in the wake of yesterday’s Budget.

  • Newcastle building society will increase its standard variable rate from 4.19% to 5.19% from 1 April. The mutual lender says the increase “reflects a change in market conditions and lending costs”. The increase will apply to residential, self-build and buy-to-let borrowers on SVR or on variable rate deals linked to the SVR
  • HSBC has cut its fixed rate buy-to-let (BtL) and international BtL mortgages by up to 0.3 percentage points. It is offering a BtL five-year fix at 4.64% (75% LTV) with a £1,999 fee. The same deal has a rate of 4.54% at 60% LTV. Two-year fixed rate BtL deals start from 4.69% (60% LTV) and 4.84% at 75% LTV – both with a £1,999 fee.

14 March: Bank Of England May Hold Key Rate At 4% Next Week

The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank last week could bring welcome relief for UK mortgage borrowers.

There was a surprise run on SVB last week as its account holders were spooked by reports the bank was sitting on huge losses on its government bond-holdings.

In addition to triggering a sell-off of banking stocks in world markets, SVB’s failure led to speculation that central banks, including the Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve, might slow down or even stop increasing interest rates.

Prior to the troubles at SVB, markets were pricing in a 0.25 percentage point increase to the Bank of England Bank Rate next week from its current level of 4%. But that sentiment has now shifted.

This is good news for borrowers on variable and tracker mortgage rates who were bracing for higher monthly repayments.

It could also spell better news for borrowers looking to remortgage to a new fixed-rate deal.

Swap rates – the wholesale interest rates at which the banks lend to each other – have fallen sharply following the news from the US. As fixed mortgage rates are largely determined by swap rates, this means fixed mortgage rates are less likely to rise in the short term.

Nick Mendes, mortgage technical manager at broker John Charcol, said: “Two year swaps on 10 March were priced at 4.28% and five-year swaps were at 3.87%. Currently they’ve fallen to 4.14% (two-year) and 3.70% (five-year).

“With rates in a state of flux we’re likely to see mortgage rates fluctuating. No one can accurately predict where rates will be in the future and there are still many factors that can change in a short period of time.

“But for those coming into their last six months of a fixed rate mortgage deal expiring, locking in a competitive rate deal now will mean you can hedge your bets. If rates increase you’ve tied into a lower rate deal and if rates fall between now and when your current deal expires you still have the option to move to a new rate at that point.”

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “The market senses that some of the heat has come out of potential interest rate rises. The fall in swap rates in the past two days could start to filter through to fixed-rate mortgage pricing.

“We were expecting two more base rate rises but that now looks like one. This will be welcome news for borrowers, particularly those requiring high loan-to-value mortgages who pay comparatively higher rates.”

10 March: Regulator Tells Lenders To Boost Support

Lenders continue to tinker with rates as the market looks ahead to the next Bank of England interest rate decision on 23 March, writes Jo Thornhill.

There are expectations that the Bank rate, currently at 4%, will climb further and could reach 4.5% in 2023 before falling back again.

The market regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, has told lenders to offer more support to hard-pressed borrowers facing an increase in their repayments (see story below).

  • Halifax has cut selected fixed rates for home buyers by up to 0.25 percentage points and reduced the rate on its remortgage tracker product, effective from Monday (13 March). The lender’s five-year fixed rates at 90% and 95% LTV have also been lowered. Its two-year fix at 90% LTV, with a £999 fee, is cut by 0.05 percentage points to 4.98%. The two-year tracker deal for remortgage customers (60% LTV) is cut by 0.13 percentage points to 4.23% with a £999 fee
  • Virgin Money has cut buy-to-let mortgage rates and rates on some residential deals by up to 0.45 percentage points. Its BtL two-year fix (50% LTV) is now at 4.18%, although there is a high £3,995 fee. The same deal at 60% LTV is 4.28%. The five-year BtL fixed rate is at 4.2% (50% LTV) or 4.25% (60% LTV) with the same fee. Residential purchase deals, two and five-year fixes, have been reduced by 0.1 percentage points, while some remortgage deals, also two and five-year fixes, have been increased by up to 0.15 percentage points. A fee-free seven-year fixed rate for residential borrowers has been launched at 4.34% (75% LTV)
  • Coventry building society is increasing its two, three and five-year fixed rates and its two-year tracker deal from Tuesday (14 March). The increases will apply to owner-occupier mortgages for new customers and existing borrowers looking to move house or remortgage. The new rates will be announced next week
  • Clydesdale Bank, part of the Virgin Money group, has cut the interest rates charged to existing 65% and 75% LTV customers who transfer to new products. Eligible customers may elect to transfer if they’re paying standard variable rate or when their fixed rate deal ends, for example. Clydesdale is offering a two-year fix at 4.4% with a £449 fee and a five-year fix at 4.02%, also with a £499 fee. Fee-free deals are at 4.6% (two-year fix) and 4.17% (five-year).

Sam Amidi at online mortgage broker Better.co.uk, said: “Halifax is one of the biggest lenders in the country and it is now flexing to closer to the best-buy deals as it has been sitting outside the top three. With other key lenders increasing rates in recent days, Halifax will see this as an opportunity to boost market share.

“With the Budget next week, it will be interesting to see what support the government plans on offering the property market as this has been stagnated for the past five months. With the UK narrowly avoiding recession and talks that Bank rate could be held at the next MPC meeting, this could be a chance to reignite the market and build consumer confidence.”

10 March: FCA Fears 356,000 Households Face Difficulties

The Financial Conduct Authority is telling lenders to do more to help customers struggling with mortgage repayments due to rising interest rates and the increased cost of living.

The regulator estimates that an additional 356,000 mortgage borrowers could face payment problems by the end of June 2024. This is on top of 200,000 households the FCA says are already in financial difficulty.

This is a reduced estimate compared to September 2022, when the FCA feared around 570,000 more borrowers would face financial difficulty as a result of increases to the Bank of England Bank rate, which determines the cost of mortgages.

At that point, the regulator expected the Bank rate to peak at 5.5%. But that estimate has now fallen to 4.5%, allowing the FCA to adjust its figures.

Payment problems are likely to arise when borrowers come off current low fixed rate mortgages and either must pay their lender’s much higher standard variable rate (known as SVR, currently running at an average of 6.90%), or remortgage to a higher fixed rate deal.

The regulator has calculated that on average, mortgage borrowers coming off fixed rate deals over the next year could end up paying an additional £340 a month on their mortgage.

The Bank rate currently stands at 4% after spiralling upwards from 0.1% in 2021. The next interest rate decision will be on 23 March, when an increase to 4.25% or 4.50% is possible as the Bank tries to quell the rate of inflation.

In its final guidance on how lenders should help mortgage borrowers, the regulator says it expects firms to support customers who ask for help by offering a range of measures to relieve payment pressure.

It follows a mortgage summit between the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, the FCA and representatives from the mortgage industry in December.

The FCA says options to help struggling customers include:

  • restructuring a mortgage by extending the duration of the loan to reduce monthly payments
  • temporarily suspending monthly repayments
  • offering payment holidays
  • switching a loan to interest-only terms.

Mortgage borrowers with concerns are urged to contact their lender as soon as possible to discuss their options. Borrowers should be aware that making changes to their mortgage, even temporarily, could result in higher payments in future and that they pay back more overall.

Sheldon Mills, executive director of consumers and competition at the FCA, said: “Our research shows most people are keeping up with mortgage repayments, but some may face difficulties. If you’re struggling to pay your mortgage, or are worried you might, you don’t need to manage alone. Your lender has a range of tools available to help.

“Get in touch as soon as you have concerns, don’t wait until you’re about to miss a payment before doing so. Just talking to them about your options won’t affect your credit rating.”

FCA research has found borrowers aged 18-34 are more likely to be financially stretched than the rest of the working age population, as well as those living in London and the South East. It also found almost half of those in difficulty (47%) wrongly believe contacting their lender for support would damage their credit rating.

If a borrower agrees an option with their lender to pay less than the agreed amount in their contract, this will be reflected on their credit file. But just talking to their lender won’t affect their credit file or rating and nor will some other forms of support.

Laura Suter, head of personal finance at investment firm AJ Bell, said: “There is no hiding from the fact that the mortgage market is a terrifying place for the 1.4 million homeowners coming off a cheap fixed-rate deal and moving onto far higher rates this year.

“The FCA wants mortgage lenders to up their game when it comes to supporting customers who are struggling. It also wants to bust some myths, reassuring borrowers that enquiring about help won’t have a negative impact on their credit file and that lenders should offer tailored support.”
The government’s free money service MoneyHelper, as well as other free services including Citizens Advice, can offer impartial money and debt advice.

Free Mortgage Advice

Better.co.uk is a 5-star Trustpilot rated online mortgage adviser that can help you find the right mortgage - and do all the hard work with the lender to secure it. *Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

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9 March: Volatility Reflects Wholesale Market Trends

Fixed mortgage rates continue to be volatile in response to fluctuating wholesale lending markets, which heavily influence the price of mortgages, writes Jo Thornhill.

Swap rates – the interest rates at which banks lend to each other – have increased over the past week causing lenders to reassess the mortgage rates they offer to customers.

Economists are also questioning how much further the Bank of England Bank Rate (currently at 4%) has to climb. The next interest rate decision is due on 23 March.

Among today’s mortgage rate changes:

  • Accord Mortgages, the broker-only lender owned by Yorkshire building society, has increased fixed rates for new customers by up to 0.4 percentage points, effective tomorrow (10 March). Deals for house purchase will rise by 0.05 percentage points, while fixed rate remortgage products will increase by 0.33 percentage points (at 85% LTV) and by 0.4 percentage points (90% LTV)
  • Shawbrook Bank has bucked the trend of increases by cutting its mortgage rates for semi-commercial and buy-to-let (BtL) customers by up to 1.75 percentage points. Its specialist buy-to-let loan for between £150,000 and £1 million is cut from 8.24% to 6.29% and BtL loans over £1 million are now 5.69%. Semi-commercial mortgages of more than £1 million are now 6.49%
  • Foundation Home Loans has also cut rates for owner-occupier mortgages by up to 0.1 percentage points. The lender’s special fee-assisted five-year fixed rate deal (65% LTV) is at 6.59% – this deal has a £795 product fee (lower than its standard £995 product fee), a free valuation plus no application fee.

7 March: Residential Loan Rates Up, New-Builds Down

Skipton building society has increased fixed rates on selected residential purchase and remortgage deals by up to 0.38 percentage points, while cutting rates by up to 0.19 percentage points for new-build homes and government scheme mortgages, writes Jo Thornhill.

Among its rate increases, Skipton has pushed up the cost of its two-year fixed rate (60% LTV) deal by 0.38 percentage points to 4.75%. It has a £995 fee. Its fee-free two-year fixed rate (90% LTV) also rises to 5.29% – an increase of 0.13 percentage points.

But the lender’s fee-free two-year fixed rate for new-build properties is reduced by 0.07 percentage points to 5.73% (available up to 90% LTV).

Mortgages for government schemes, such as Help to Buy and First Homes, are also cut. The two-year fixed rate for shared ownership mortgages is now 5.47% – a reduction of 0.18 percentage points. This deal is available up to 90% LTV and has no fee.

  • TBS is increasing the rate on its five-year fixed rate mortgage deals (at 85% LTV) by up to 0.2 percentage points for purchase and remortgage. The new five-year fixed rates for borrowers with at least a 15% deposit will be available to new and existing mortgage customers from tomorrow.
  • Atom Bank, which operates an app-based service, has cut fixed mortgage rates for purchase and remortgage customers by up to 0.25 percentage points. It is offering a fee-free five-year fix (60% LTV) from 4.29% (higher rates are available at higher LTVs), and a two-year rate (90% LTV) at 5.04% with a £900 fee, for example. Among its deals for near prime borrowers (those with a lower credit score) it has a two-year fix at 6.89% (85% LTV) with a £900 fee, or a five-year fix at 7.04%, also with a £900 fee. Richard Harrison, Atom bank head of mortgages, said: “We are making rate reductions at a time when some lenders have begun to pass on a proportion of the recent increase in swap rates to customers.”

6 March: Existing Customers Benefit When Switching

Virgin Money is cutting its fixed rate mortgage range for existing customers by up to 0.26 percentage points, writes Jo Thornhill.

The new rates, effective from tomorrow (7 March), are available to existing mortgage customers looking to switch to a new deal.

The five-year fixed rate (65% LTV) is among the market leading deals at 3.99% – a cut of 0.16 percentage points. There is a £999 fee.

The two-year fixed rate (65% LTV) is now 4.37% – a cut of 0.16 percentage points. There is a £995 fee. The fee-free two-year fixed rate is cut by 0.26 percentage points to 4.6%.

Two, three and five-year fixed rates for existing borrowers with a higher loan to value ratio have also been cut by up to 0.21 percentage points.

Richard Walker, head of intermediary sales at Virgin Money, said: “We don’t believe our best rates should be saved just for new customers.

“With five year fixed rates starting from 3.99%, these changes to our existing customer range improve the options available for those looking for a new rate on their existing loan.”

3 March: Rising ‘Swap’ Rates Feed Through To Customers

Nationwide building society has increased rates by up to 0.21 percentage points across selected fixed and tracker mortgage products for new and existing customers, writes Jo Thornhill.

The lender is likely to be responding to the recent increase in wholesale swap rates – the interest rates at which the banks lend to each other, which determines how lenders price their fixed rate mortgages.

Virgin Money and HSBC have each increased rates in recent days (see stories below). This bucks the trend of falling mortgage rates across the market since the start of the year.

Nationwide is offering a two-year fix at 4.79% (75% LTV) for first time buyers with a £999 fee. The fee-free option is at 5.24%. The two-year fix for new customer homebuyers (80% LTV) is at 4.79% with a £999 fee, or fee-free at 5.09%.

Its new customer remortgage five-year fix (60% LTV) is now 4.19% – up 0.2 percentage points. It has a £999 fee.

Existing Nationwide borrowers will see increased rates on home mover, shared equity, additional borrowing, green additional borrowing, switcher and switcher additional borrowing products. The switcher five-year fix for existing customers (60% LTV) is priced at 4.04% (an increase of 0.1 percentage points) with a £999 fee.

‘Switchers’ is how Nationwide refers to existing customers remortgaging to a new deal.

Nick Mendes, mortgage technical manager at broker John Charcol, said: “Swaps rates have seen an increase over the last few days, partially down to the change in mood seen in the US.

“The Federal Reserve is now expected to keep interest rates higher for longer, and the expectation here in the UK is that the Bank of England will look to do the same. The market believes UK rates could rise to 4.25% and may not fall again until 2024.

“It shows how unpredictable rates can be. Anyone hoping to see a continuing fall in mortgage rates – including the current sub 4% deals – could now have to wait a little longer.”

Henry Jordan, director of home at Nationwide, said: “Over the last few months, we have continued to lower rates across our mortgage range, including doing so four times this year.

“However, given the recent increase in swap rates, we are having to make some small increases on selected mortgage rates so that we can continue to balance our support for all types of borrowers with the need to ensure our rates remain sustainable.”

  • The Mortgage Lender, part of Shawbrook Bank, has cut rates across its two- and five-year fixed rate buy-to-let loans by up to 0.4 percentage points. The broker-only lender’s Fee Saver Remortgage product is cut by the full 0.4 percentage points to 5.79%. This is a five-year fix at 75% LTV with no fee. TML’s five-year fixed buy-to-let rate at 75% LTV is cut by 0.2 percentage points to 4.64%. There is a 5% fee. Rates on mortgages for houses in multiple occupation (HMO), for professional landlords, have also seen a cut of up to 0.25 percentage points.

28 February: Rising Wholesale Borrowing Costs Threaten Fixed Offers

Skipton building society is the latest lender to reduce the cost of its fixed-rate mortgages – its fourth rate cut this month. But HSBC is set to increase fixed rates across its range from tomorrow, and experts suggest fixed rates across the market may soon start climbing again.

Skipton is cutting rates for residential and buy-to-let customers by up to 0.24 percentage points. It is offering a fee-free two-year fixed rate for residential borrowers at 5.16% (90% LTV). At 60% LTV, borrowers can get a five-year fix at 4.16% with a £995 fee.

Despite some lenders continuing to nudge down their fixed rate offerings as competition in the market remains hot, brokers say fixed-rate reductions are likely to soon go into reverse.

Wholesale ‘swap’ rates – the interest rates at which banks lend to each other – have started to creep up. This will inevitably feed through to the rates lenders charge their mortgage customers.

Today (28 February), swap rates are at the highest they have been so far this year. Two-year swaps are just under 4.5%, while five-year swaps crept above 4%.

According to online mortgage broker Better, the market is already reacting, with the lowest two-year fixed mortgage rate deals increasing from 4.02% to 4.12%.

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And although the lowest five-year fixes are still below 4%, some providers have tweaked their deals upwards in recent days or removed their best buys to control business levels (see stories below).

From tomorrow (1 March) HSBC will increase its standard variable rate (SVR) from 6.79% to 6.99% and the SVR for buy-to-let customers will also rise from 6.35% to 6.85%.

Fixed rate residential purchase, switcher products and remortgage deals will all be increased at the same time, with the details yet to be announced. Brokers say they are hopeful HSBC’s five-year fix at 3.99% (60% LTV) will be retained.

Experts also predict the Bank of England could increase Bank Rate again when the monetary policy committee (MPC) next meets on 23 March.

Richard Campo, founder of mortgage broker Rose Capital Partners, believes mortgage rates have hit the bottom for this cycle: “We may now be seeing the end of falling mortgage rates. We don’t have a crystal ball so this is what I’m suggesting from my reading of the money markets. But unless something changes geopolitically or economically, I feel that even if Bank Rate settles at 4%, then a five-year fixed rate mortgage at around 4% looks like exceptional value.

“There have been some interesting movements in the money markets over the past week, fuelled by the sentiment that interest rates haven’t yet reached their peak in this cycle. This is going to have an impact on the pricing of fixed rate mortgages. In the long run I think we’ll see the best five-year fixed rates settle at around 4% to 4.5%.”

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: ‘‘All eyes are focused not only on the MPC’s decision next month, but also the voting decisions. Hawks and doves are already vocalising their thoughts. Once the market feels the tide has turned and Bank Rate has peaked, expect swap rates to drop quickly.

“While not every lender is wholly reliant on the money markets and swap rates for its lending capacity, they will still influence where it prices. Even those lenders with deep pockets will observe movements and what the competition is doing in order to preserve service levels.

‘Borrowers can’t assume fixed rates will continue to edge lower. As we have seen in the past week the best deal can disappear as quickly as it appears.”

27 February: Lenders Vie For Business As Lowest Rates Pulled

More lenders have slashed fixed rate mortgage pricing as competition remains strong, writes Jo Thornhill.

  • Newcastle building society has cut rates on its five-year fixed rates by up to 0.79 percentage points for mortgages at 90% and 95% LTV. At 90% LTV it is offering a five-year fix at 4.8% and at 95% LTV the rate is 5.25%. Both deals are for purchase and remortgage customers
  • The Mortgage Works, the specialist lending arm of Nationwide building society, has cut rates on five-year fixed deals by up to 0.1 percentage points for existing customers. Its five-year fix switcher product is now at 5.09% (75% LTV) with a 3% fee. The five-year rate and fee are the same for professional landlords with homes with multiple occupancy (HMO) mortgages and large portfolio HMO borrowers
  • Buy-to-let lender Zephyr Homeloans has cut its five-year fixed rate deals across the board by 0.3 percentage points. Its standard five-year rate is 5.29% (65% LTV). This is for properties with an A to C-rated energy certificate. Zephyr’s deal for new build properties and flats above commercial premises has also been cut to 5.29% (65% LTV) and the deal for houses of multiple occupancy multi-unit blocks is now 5.59% (65% LTV).

These latest cuts come in the wake of price increases last week by some lenders who were offering the most keenly priced five-year fixed rates at under 4%.

Virgin Money and Platform, part of Co-operative Bank, were offering five-year fixed rates at 3.95% and 3.75% respectively – the cheapest on the market. But Platform has since withdrawn its deal and Virgin increased its rate to 3.99%.

The next Bank of England decision on Bank Rate – currently at 4% – will be on 23 March.

24 February: 50% LTV Tier Allows Reduction In Rates

Coventry for Intermediaries, the broker arm of Coventry building society, is cutting selected residential rates by up to 23 percentage points. It has also launched 50% LTV products for new and existing customers.

Fixed rate products for existing buy-to-let customers have also been reduced by up to 70 percentage points.

The building society now has a five-year fixed rate offer, for 50% LTV customers, that joins the growing list of sub-4% deals (see stories below) with a 3.96% rate, although there is a £999 fee.

This deal, which is available for residential purchase and remortgage purposes, offers a choice of £350 cashback or a remortgage transfer service.

Its two-year fixed rate deal at 4.62% with an LTV of 85% and a £999 fee, available for residential purchase and remortgage purposes.

23 February: Lenders Continue To Lower Rates

Online searches for mortgage rates soared by more than 500% in the year to November 2022, with borrowers seeking information and reassurance as interest rates climbed, writes Jo Thornhill.

The findings, from broker Better.co.uk, show Google searches for ‘mortgage rates’ averaged around 110,000 per month during the 12-month period and increased by more than 230% in the three months to November 2022.

The number of searches around house prices also increased dramatically, up by 172% over the past year.

Better’s research also highlights the impact of the cost of living crisis, with Google searches for information on energy bills rising by 819% over the year.

The research comes as lenders across the market continue to tweak fixed rates:

  • Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank, brands that form part of the Virgin Money banking group, have followed parent company Virgin in increasing fixed rates by up to 0.09 percentage points for new customers from this evening (23 February). Both brands offer a residential purchase or remortgage fee-free two-year fix at 5.33% (85% LTV) – an increase of 0.04 percentage points. Buy-to-let rates are also increased. There is a two-year BTL fixed rate at 5.32% (60% LTV) – up 0.09 percentage points, with a £999 fee, or a two-year fix at 5.09% (60% LTV) – up 0.05 percentage points with a £1,999 fee. Rates have also been adjusted upwards for existing borrowers looking to remortgage. The five-year fix at 90% LTV is increased by 0.04 percentage points to 4.98%
  • Aldermore has cut rates by up to 1.34 percentage points for owner-occupier mortgages and by up to 0.75 percentage points for buy-to-let customers. For residential borrowers it is offering a five-year fixed rate at 5.74% (80% LTV) with a £999 fee. Buy-to-let landlords with one property can get a five-year fix at 5.54% (75% LTV) with a 1.5% fee – or the rate falls to 5.44% for properties with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of A, B or C
  • Keystone, the buy-to-let lender, has launched a new range of deals with lower rates but a higher set up fee of 5%. It is offering a five-year fixed rate at 5.29% (65% LTV) or at 5.39% (75% LTV). For multi-occupancy properties (HMO) rates start from 5.54% (65% LTV).
  • NatWest has cut fixed rates by up to 0.31 percentage points across residential purchase deals and buy-to-let loans, effective from tomorrow (Friday 23 Feb). Two and five-year fixed rates for purchase customers are cut by 0.16 percentage points and 0.11 percentage points respectively. It is offering a two-year fixed rate for purchase customers at 4.58% (60% LTV) with a £995 fee. The five-year fixed buy-to-let rate is 4.69% (60% LTV) with a £995 fee (down 0.31 percentage points).

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22 February: Big Guns Fight For Market Share

HSBC and Skipton building society have each cut their fixed mortgage rates in the latest salvo from an increasingly competitive market, writes Jo Thornhill.

  • HSBC has reduced rates across its fixed mortgage products for new and existing customers by up to 0.35 percentage points. It is the lender’s fourth rate cut this year. Three-year fixed rates start from 4.29% (60% LTV) with a £999 fee. It has also added a sub-4% 10-year fixed rate deal at 3.89% (at 60% LTV) to the range, which joins its existing five-year fix at 3.99% (60% LTV). Both sub-4% deals have a £999 fee
  • Skipton building society has reduced rates on its residential and buy-to-let mortgage ranges by up to 0.31 percentage points and increased its maximum residential home loan size from £1 million to £3 million (up to 75% LTV). It is offering a five-year fixed rate at 4.35% (60% LTV) with no fee. Its two-year rates start from 4.54% (75% LTV) with a £995 fee
  • Fleet Mortgages, the buy-to-let broker-only lender, has launched two-year fixed rate deals for standard and limited company borrowers from 5.69%. Mortgages for houses of multiple occupancy and blocks of flats are available form 5.79%. Loans are available up to 75% LTV with a fee of 2%. Five-year fixes have also been unveiled starting from 4.79% with a 5% fee. Fleet cut rates on its seven-year fixed rate mortgages earlier this month.
  • The Mortgage Works, the specialist buy-to-let lender owned by Nationwide building society, has cut selected fixed rates by up to 0.3 percentage points. It is offering a five-year fix for purchases for limited company borrowers at 4.99% with a 3% fee (75% LTV). Landlords with houses of multiple occupancy (HMO) can get a two-year fix at 4.59% with a 3% fee (75% LTV) and borrowers who own and let multiple HMO properties can get a five-year fixed rate at 4.99% with a 3% fee (also 75% LTV).

21 February: Lender Bucks Trend Of Cutting Rates

Virgin Money has launched a range of fixed rate mortgage deals for first-time buyers and those moving home. But though the new products include cashback incentives and free valuations, the rates represent an increase of up to 0.26 percentage points on Virgin’s previous fixed rate deals, writes Jo Thornhill.

It comes the day after the lender raised rates for residential remortgage customers by up to 0.25 percentage points (see stories below). Virgin has also cut buy-to-let fixed rates by up to 1.5 percentage points.

Virgin’s two-year fixed rate for residential purchase customers at 75% LTV is 4.78% – 0.15 percentage points higher than the old product. There is a £995 fee, but the deal offers £1,000 cashback and a free valuation.

At 90% LTV, the two-year fixed rate is 5.25% – 0.26 percentage points higher.

Rates are lower for borrowers who choose to pay a higher upfront fee, with Virgin offering a two-year fixed rate at 4.49% (75% LTV) or 4.9% (90% LTV), with a £1,495 fee.

Richard Walker, Virgin’s head of intermediary sales, said: “Our new range of short term exclusive rates offers even more options for those looking to purchase a new home, whether a home-mover or a first time buyer.

“We remain supportive of those with smaller deposits with 90% LTV two-year fixed rates starting from 4.90%.”
For buy-to-let borrowers, Virgin is offering a five-year fixed rate remortgage deal at 4.64% (50% LTV) with a £3,995 fee for ‘portfolio’ landlords (those who own and let out multiple properties). Two-year rates start from 4.73% (50% LTV).

21 February: Competition Keeps Fixed Rates Keen

Mortgage experts say sub-4% fixed rate deals aren’t about to disappear, despite the recent spike for lenders in the cost of providing fixed rates to customers, writes Jo Thornhill.

Wholesale ‘swap’ rates – the interest rates at which banks lend to each other – have been moving a lot in recent days. This is the rate at which mortgage lenders must borrow the money to then lend out to their mortgage customers.

Lenders add their own margin on top, so when swap rates rise, so too do the mortgage rates homeowners pay.

The recent rise in swap rates is one of the reasons behind Virgin Money’s increase to fixed remortgage rates yesterday (see story below). But despite the move – which bucks the trend of the past month, which has seen fixed mortgage rates fall across the market – brokers are confident that intense competition will keep mortgage prices low.

Virgin has kept its five-year fixed rate at under 4%. Other lenders including First Direct, Halifax, Nationwide, NatWest, Santander and Yorkshire building society, all have five-year and 10-year fixed rate deals priced below the Bank of England Bank Rate (4%).

Yesterday Platform, part of Co-operative Bank, launched a market-leading five-year fix at 3.75%, although this is only available at 60% LTV with a steep £1,999 fee and it is for a minimum mortgage size of £400,000.

Broker-only lender Platform is offering other five-year fixed rate options from 3.85% (60% LTV) with a £1,499 fee or at 3.89% with a £999 fee, for example.

Tessa Skot, chief operating officer at online broker Better.co.uk, said: ‘There’s no cause for panic – not all lenders are looking to make similar adjustments to Virgin Money.

“Virgin is likely being more conservative than other lenders in reaction to swap rate movement, and is also looking to maintain prompt service levels in response to increased customer demand.

“We often see that, when a lender has received a high volume of applications, they temporarily increase rates for new applications to help maintain the service levels customers expect on the applications they have already received. When these applications have been processed, a lender often then lowers interest rates again.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, has this advice for borrowers looking for a new deal: “While the general trend for fixed-rate mortgages has been down over the past few weeks, we expect to see pricing go up and down over the next six months with no visible trend.

“Borrowers may be tempted to wait for rates to fall but there is a danger they might not. A potential option would be a base-rate tracker mortgage with no early repayment charges, enabling you to move onto a fixed rate should pricing come down further.

“Another option could be to take a two-year fixed-rate mortgage with a view to taking a longer-term fix when that comes to an end, in the hope that they may then be cheaper.”

Figures released today by HM Revenue and Customs also highlight how higher mortgage rates are taking their toll on the housing market.

Data for stamp duty receipts show there were 77,390 residential property sales in January – a fall of 7% annually and down 27% since December 2022. For non-residential sales there were 8,500 transactions – an 11% annual fall, or a drop of 3% month on month.

Gareth Lewis, commercial director of property lender MT Finance, says: “Volumes are relatively similar to pre-pandemic levels which is encouraging. But on the other hand, transaction levels are nowhere near where they need to be.

“We still need to find a way to stimulate the market and enable more people to buy property, as many are struggling with affordability. There isn’t an easy solution but something has to be done to enable more to get onto the first rung of the ladder.

“It makes sense that January’s transactions would be down on December’s and in the coming months, we expect to see more of a downward trend.”

20 February: Virgin Increases Cost Of Remortgage Deals

Virgin Money has increased rates across its fixed-rate remortgage range by up to 0.25 percentage points, as costs fall across the wider mortgage market, writes Jo Thornhill.

From 8pm this evening, Virgin’s two-year fixed rates will rise by 0.2 percentage points to 4.79% (65% Loan to Value) and 4.89% (75% LTV). Neither deal charges an arrangement fee.

Virgin’s three-year fixed rate will increase by a steeper 0.25 percentage points to 4.59% (75% LTV).

The lender’s five-year fixed rate will also be nudged upwards by 0.04 percentage points to 3.99% (65% LTV), with a £995 fee.

However, Virgin still remains among a small group of lenders offering five-year fixed rates at under 4%. They include First Direct, HSBC, Santander and Yorkshire building society.

20 February: Five-Year Fix Available Below 4%

Santander has cut its fixed mortgage rates and is offering a five-year fixed rate deal at 3.99%, joining a glut of other lenders to bring five-year fixes down under 4%, writes Jo Thornhill.

Its five-year fixed rate at 60% LTV, available from tomorrow, has a £999 fee. The new rate represents a 0.19 percentage point cut by Santander on its previous five-year fixed deal, which was itself launched earlier this month.

Other lenders, including HSBC, Virgin Money and the Nationwide and Yorkshire building societies are already offering five-year fixed rates at 3.99% (see stories below).

Santander is also cutting other fixed residential mortgage rates by up to 0.5 percentage points and buy-to-let rates by up to 0.3 percentage points, from tomorrow.

It is offering a fee-free two-year fix at 75% LTV from 4.79% for residential borrowers. It has a two-year fix at 5.59% for remortgage buy-to-let customers at 75% LTV, with no fee.

Other lenders to cut rates include:

  • Landbay: specialist buy-to-let lender Landbay has cut rates on mortgages for landlords of multiple occupation properties and multi-unit freehold blocks by up to 0.3 percentage points. For standard buy-to-let properties rates have been cut by up to 0.15 percentage points. Two-year fixed rates start from 5.29% with a two per cent fee or from 4.79% with a three per cent fee
  • Foundation Home Loans: Foundation has cut rates across residential and buy-to-let mortgages by up to 1.5 percentage points. The lender has improved the rate on its owner-occupier Green ABC+ product for properties with an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of C and above. The new rate is 6.44% down from 7.89%. Buy-to-let rates have been reduced by 1.8 percentage points across its Green product range. The five-year fixed rates, available up to 75% LTV, will start at 6.44% with a 1.25% fee, for example.

15 February: House-Buyers Enjoy Increased Choice Of Loan Deals

Nationwide, the world’s largest building society, is adding more weight to the recent swathe of mortgage rate reductions by lowering the cost of its fixed and tracker deals by up to 0.70 percentage points, writes Laura Howard.

From tomorrow (16 February), starting costs for five-year fixed rate mortgages at Nationwide will be pegged down by 0.19 percentage points to 3.99%.

The move brings it into line with rivals Virgin Money, Yorkshire building society and First Direct, which already offer sub-4% five-year fixes (see stories below).

The newly-priced five-year fix – available with a 40% deposit – comes with a £999 fee, although a fee-free option is available priced at 4.18%.

Reductions are less generous on tracker mortgages, which follow movements in the Bank of England Bank rate (currently 4%). Costs for a two-year deal start at 4.24% with a £999 fee, having been cut by just 0.05 percentage points.

Existing customers at Nationwide looking for a new deal will see reductions of up to 0.41 percentage points, with rates starting from 3.94% for a five-year fix, with a £999 fee.

The lender promises that ‘switchers’ will be offered rates that are the same or lower than the equivalent deal for new customers.

The biggest cost reductions, however, are reserved for first-time buyers, who will see up to 0.70 percentage points knocked off selected two, three and five-year fixes.

From tomorrow, the first-time buyer five-year fix, which requires a deposit of just 5%, will be priced at 4.99% with a £999 fee. The equivalent no-fee deal, which has seen the biggest reduction of 0.7 percentage points, will be priced at 5.09%.

First-timers at Nationwide can continue to choose between £500 cashback or free standard legal fees.

The latest moves are the fourth round of mortgage rate reductions that Nationwide has announced since the start of the year and the ninth since last Autumn’s mini-Budget.

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14 February: 3.99% Deal Broadens Range Of Sub Bank Rate Offers

First Direct is cutting fixed mortgage rates across its range by up to 1.05 percentage points. It is also joining the ranks of lenders offering a five-year fix at under 4%, further fuelling competition in this sector of the market, writes Jo Thornhill.

The bank says its five-year fixed rate will be priced at 3.99% after a 0.25 percentage point cut (60% LTV). There is a £490 fee.

Virgin Money, HSBC and Yorkshire building society are offering sub-4% five-year fixes – the first time rates have dipped below 4% since September last year.

First Direct’s 10-year fixed rate has seen the biggest cut of 1.05 percentage points and is now at 4.04% (60% LTV) with a £490 fee. The two-year fixed rate starts at 4.49% (60% LTV), also with a £490 fee. The bank’s mortgages are available to all new and existing customers.

Carl Watchorn, head of mortgages at First Direct, said: “These latest rate reductions are the most significant to be implemented to the First Direct mortgage range since last autumn. Our biggest rate cuts are across our 10-year range as we recognise that many customers will want long-term peace of mind at the moment.”

  • Halifax Intermediaries has cut rates by up to 0.36 percentage points for purchase and remortgage borrowers – effective tomorrow (15 February). It is offering, through brokers, a 10-year fixed rate at 3.99% (60% LTV) with a £999 fee. The same deal is 4.04% at 75% LTV.
  • Barclays has cut its two- and five-year fixed rate mortgages by up to 0.44 percentage points for residential and buy-to-let customers. It is offering a two-year fixed-rate at 4.3% (60% LTV) with a £999 fee – or at 4.75% at 75% LTV – both are residential rates. It has introduced a five-year fixed-rate for buy-to-let borrowers at 4.75% (75% LTV) with a £1795 fee. The bank has also said it is withdrawing its help-to-buy mortgage range from tomorrow (15 February)
  • Accord, the specialist lending arm of Yorkshire building society, has cut fixed rates for buy-to-let (BTL) borrowers by up to 0.24 percentage points, effective from tomorrow (15 February). It is offering a five-year fix at 5% (65% LTV) with a £495 fee. It has a two-year fix for house purchase at 5.84% (75% LTV) with no fee and £500 cashback. The fee-free two-year fix for remortgage is now 5.71% (75% LTV).

13 February: Move Comes As Lenders Continue To Cut Rates

From next month, NatWest will allow mortgage customers to make overpayments of up to 20% of the outstanding balance per year – the previous maximum was 10%, writes Jo Thornhill.

Most lenders allow borrowers to make penalty-free overpayments each year of up to 10%.

NatWest says that, for customers making lump sum overpayments in excess of £1,000, this will mean their monthly mortgage repayment will be recalculated. This will reduce monthly mortgage repayments afterwards – so effectively the benefit of the overpayment is calculated immediately.

For those making overpayments less than this amount, their repayments won’t change, but it will mean they’ll have a lower balance to refinance when it comes to a new fixed term deal.

The bank has said it will write to customers who have a regular monthly overpayment of more than £500 a month (or more than 8% per year) to let them know about the increase to its overpayment allowances.

Mark Harris at broker SPF Private Clients said: ‘NatWest joins a handful of lenders which allow 20% overpayments, including Metro Bank and Atom Bank. Suffolk Building Society will even allow up to 50 per cent overpayments without penalty.

“But given household incomes are so under pressure at the moment, it is hard to see whether many borrowers will be able to take advantage of these increased limits, even if they wanted to. For most, 10% overpayments are more than enough.

“Research by Lifesearch estimated that only 7% [of borrowers] overpaid on their mortgage during the first half of 2021. But anecdotally overpayments are rarely made to their maximum capacity. With this in mind, it’s unlikely that other lenders will follow suit.”

Mortgage rates have also continued to fall across the market as lenders jostle for business. The latest providers to make changes include:

  • TSB reducing fixed rates for purchase and remortgage customers by up to 0.65 percentage points. Its two-year fix at 60% LTV is now 4.54% with a £995 fee. At 85% LTV the rate is 5.34% and at 95% LTV it is 5.84%
  • The Mortgage Lender cutting fixed residential rates by up to 0.66 percentage points and buy-to-let rates across its range (fixed and tracker rate deals) by up to 0.9 percentage points.
  • MPowered Mortgages cutting fixed rates by up to 0.7 percentage points. It is offering a three-year fixed rate at 4.36% from 60% LTV. Its 10-year fix is now 4.29% at 60% LTV. It follows a rate cut of up to 0.31 percentage points earlier this month.

In further relief for mortgage borrowers, Moneyfacts has reported the number of mortgage deals available has increased to 4,341 – up from 3,643 last month.

The latest product count sits above 4,000 for the first time since August 2022, a positive sign of stability returning to the market after product choice plummeting after the mini-Budget in September last year.

The average shelf life of mortgage deals also increased to 28 days, the joint highest since March 2022, and a significant improvement on the 15 days seen last month.

10 February: Santander Joins Trend To Chop Fixed Rate Deals

Santander and the Yorkshire and Skipton building societies are among a slew of lenders to have cut fixed mortgage rates in recent days, writes Jo Thornhill.

A round-up of the latest rate changes includes:

  • Santander: fixed rates have been cut by up to 0.24 percentage points for purchase, remortgage and new build mortgages. The new five-year fixed rate for purchases is now 4.22% at 60% LTV with a £999 fee. The rate at 95% LTV is now 5.64% with no fee
  • Yorkshire building society: fixed rates cut by up to 0.25%. It is offering a five-year fix at 3.98% at 75% LTV for remortgage customers. There is a £1,495 fee. The five-year fix for home purchase customers is 4.09%. The lender’s five-year fixed rate at 90% LTV is now 4.77% with no fee and £1,000 cashback
  • Skipton building society: fixed rates have been cut by 0.13 percentage points for high LTV deals. Its five-year fix for remortgage customers at 80% LTV is now 4.54%. For borrowers at 85% LTV the rate is 4.57%. Both deals have a £995 fee and £250 cashback. Two year fixed rates at 85% LTV are now 4.89% with a £995 fee
  • MPowered Mortgages: fixed rates cut by up to 0.31 percentage points for homebuyers and remortgage borrowers over two and five year terms. Two-year fixed rates start from 4.54% for home purchase and 4.39% for remortgage – both have a £1,999 fee, although remortgage customers get £500 cashback on completion. Fee-free versions start at 4.94%. Five-year fixed rates are 4.13% for remortgage and 4.14% for purchases
  • Bluestone Mortgages: specialist lender Bluestone, which focuses on non standard mortgage applications, has cut fixed rates on its residential and buy-to-let mortgage ranges by up to 0.7 percentage points
  • Hampshire Trust Bank: the rate on specialist lender HTB’s five-year fixed professional landlord mortgage has been cut by 1.3 percentage points to 5.99%. Two-year rates start from 5.69%
  • Coventry building society: fixed rates have been cut by up to 0.19 percentage points for purchase and remortgage customers. It is offering a five-year fix at 4.16% at 65% LTV with a £999 fee. The two-year fix is 4.37% at 65% LTV – also with a £999 fee
  • Metro Bank: fixed rates have been cut across residential and buy-to-let mortgages. For residential customers two-year fixed rates at 60% LTV start from 4.99% or from 5.39% at 75% LTV. Three-year fixed rates have been launched starting at 4.39% at 60% LTV.

Ben Merritt, director of mortgages at Yorkshire Building Society, said: “We’re actively monitoring market developments and are committed to taking every possible opportunity to pass on savings to help people reduce what is, for most, their biggest monthly outgoing.”

8 February: Virgin Joins HSBC With Sub-Bank Rate 5-Year Deals

Virgin Money has slashed its mortgage rates by up to 0.51 percentage points and launched a sub-4% five-year fixed rate, while Dudley building society and Together have also trimmed rates down, writes Jo Thornhill.

Yesterday, HSBC announced a sub-4% five-year remortgage fix, dipping below the current Bank rate set by the Bank of England (see story below).

As the mortgage rates war continues apace, here are the latest changes:

  • Virgin Money has cut fixed rates across its range. It is offering a broker-only remortgage five-year fixed rate at 3.95% (down 0.25 percentage points) – available at 65% LTV. There is a £995 fee. Its five-year fixed rate for purchase customers is 3.99% (down 0.18 percentage points) at 65% LTV with a £1,495 fee. The fee-free two, three and five year fixed rates for remortgage customers are cut by up to 0.51 percentage points and start from 4.1% at 65% LTV. These are all available through brokers
  • Dudley building society has cut rates on fixed and discounted rate deals and revamped its range by adding expat buy-to-let and holiday home mortgages. Among its new offering is a two-year fixed rate for residential mortgages at 5.59% at 90% LTV and it has an expat residential mortgage at 5.89% at 80% LTV
  • Together, the specialist lender which offers mortgages to borrowers who might be turned down by mainstream lenders, has cut fixed rates for residential mortgage customers by up to 0.25 percentage points. It is offering a two-year fixed rate at 8.2% and a five-year fix at 7.95%. Its bridging loan rates have been reduced by up to 0.14 percentage points.

Richard Walker, head of intermediary sales at Virgin Money, said: “Many borrowers, including first time buyers, are looking for a longer term product which guarantees a fixed rate and a consistent payment for the term of the product.

“Our new five and 10-year fixed rates at 95% LTV offer exactly that, and mean more aspiring homeowners can get their foot on the housing ladder.

“We’ve also refreshed our range of intermediary exclusives, including a competitive five-year fixed rate starting from 3.95%, as we continue to support many types of customers with their mortgage needs.”

7 February: HSBC Offers 5-Year Deal Below Bank Rate

HSBC has cut its fixed mortgage rates by up to 0.45 percent points and is offering a five-year deal priced below the Bank of England bank rate of 4%, writes Jo Thornhill.

This is the first five-year fixed rate at under 4% since September 2022. The new rate is 3.99% (down from 4.29%) for remortgage customers with at least 40% equity in their home. There is a £999 fee.

It is offering a fee-free five-year fixed rate at 5.19% (down by 0.45 percentage points) for first time buyers with a 5% cash deposit. The equivalent two-year first time buyer fixed rate is now 5.84% (down 0.35 percentage points).

It is HSBC’s third rate cut of the year, which sees reductions across almost every fixed rate mortgage for new and existing residential borrowers. It has also made reductions to buy-to-let mortgage deals of up to 0.3 percentage points.

Nationwide building society has cut fixed rates again – the third time this year. It has cut by up to 0.75 percentage points across its range. It is offering a 10-year fix at 4.34% for first time buyers at 75% LTV and with a £999 fee. Its five-year rate for remortgage customers is 4.49%. This is at 85% LTV and also with a £999 fee.

Broker-only lender Foundation Home Loans has cut rates by up to 0.9 percentage points for residential and buy-to-let mortgages. Its five-year fixed rate deal for owner-occupier borrowers is 6.59%, at 75% LTV with a £1,495 fee. Buy-to-let fixed rates now start from 5.89%.

(Video) Whats Happening with Mortgages? | Mortgage Market Update

Sam Amidi, head of mortgages at online broker Better.co.uk, said: “We now expect to see more lenders following HSBC. The price war is in full swing with HSBC taking the big leap of offering sub-4% fixed rates over five-years. This is positive for the consumer and should be an encouraging sign of what the year will hold.”

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6 February: Number Of Available Deals Increasing Rapidly

Skipton building society and Gen H Mortgages are the latest lenders to cut fixed mortgage rates, as one online broker reports a record month for home loan enquiries, writes Jo Thornhill.

  • Skipton building society has cut its fixed rates by up to 0.18 percentage points. It follows a cut of up to 0.42 percentage points to fixed mortgage rates last month. Its five-year fix at 90% LTV is now 4.6%. This deal is for remortgage customers and has a £995 fee, with £250 cashback on completion (rates are effective from 7 February). The five-year fix for purchase at 90% LTV is 4.83%. This also has a £995 fee with £1,000 cashback. Buy to let borrowers can get a two-year fixed rate at 5.3% (75% LTV with a £995 fee).
  • Generation Home (Gen H Mortgages) has cut its fixed rate mortgage range by up to 0.42 percentage points. Its fee-free five year fix is 4.57% at 75% LTV. The rate falls to 4.52% for borrowers who opt to pay a £999 arrangement fee. The fee-free five year fixed rate at 80% LTV is 4.63% – or 4.61% with a £999 fee.

The number of available mortgage deals increased last month. There are around 4,350 residential mortgage deals on the market, according to Moneyfacts, compared to 3,640 at the start of the year and just 2,560 since last Autumn’s mini-Budget. But it is still a lot lower than the 5,300 deals available in December 2021.

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2 February: Bank Rate Increase To 4% Expected But Still Painful

Mortgage borrowers on tracker and standard variable rate deals are set to see their monthly repayments rise after the Bank of England today increased the Bank Rate by 0.5 percentage points from 3.5% to 4%, writes Jo Thornhill.

A homeowner with a £200,000 repayment tracker mortgage over 25 years will see their monthly payment rise by around £50 from £1,052 per month to £1,108. This is assuming a competitive tracker rate of 0.47 percentage points above the Bank Rate.

A similar borrower paying the market average standard variable rate (currently 6.7% according to our online broker partner Better.co.uk) will pay £63 more per month from £1,376 to £1,439 – if their lender increases its SVR by the full 0.5 percentage points.

It is the 10th increase to interest rates since December 2021, and Bank Rate is now at its highest level in 15 years.

An estimated two million homeowners are on variable rate deals. A borrower with a £200,000 repayment mortgage, who has been on their lender’s standard variable rate during the past 12 months, could be paying up to £450 a month more in mortgage costs now compared to December 2021 – when the base rate was 0.1%, seeing their monthly bill go from £994 in 2021 to around £1,450 now.

While competitive fixed mortgage rates have been falling in recent weeks, today’s Bank rate rise is likely to further dampen activity in the already subdued housing market.

The rate of annual house price growth slowed from 2.8% in December 2022 to 1.1% in January 2023, according to Nationwide Building Society’s latest house price index. Prices fell 0.6% month on month and are now 3.2% below where they stood in August 2022.

Avinav Nigam at real estate investment platform, IMMO, says: ‘Rising interest rates have major consequences for the housing market. There is an immediate increase in the cost of mortgages for borrowers on variable-rate mortgages, which could mean an increase in the supply of properties for sale, with negotiating power shifting to buyers.

“Higher interest rates alongside labour and material price inflation mean that building new homes is getting harder and more expensive. Many projects are being paused, reducing future supply.”

Alex Lyle, director of London estate agency Antony Roberts, says: “Given that it’s the 10th rate rise in a row and we are already working with a smaller pool of buyers, this latest rate rise will not be helpful to the market.’

The regulator, the FCA, recently published guidance for lenders around forbearance and how they can help mortgage borrowers who are struggling. It came as it released figures estimating around 750,000 households are at risk of mortgage default over the next two years due to rising interest rates and escalating costs.

1 February: Competition Prompts Cuts To Attract Borrowers

Aldermore has cut mortgage rates for residential and buy-to-let borrowers by up to 0.97 percentage points. It is the second time the lender has reduced rates this year, writes Jo Thornhill.

The bank has announced the launch of a limited run of fixed rate owner-occupied and buy-to-let mortgages and is offering a two-year fixed rate at 5.49% at 75% LTV with no fee. The same fixed interest rate is also available over five years, also at 75% LTV with no fee. These deals are for owner-occupied mortgages.

For buy-to-let borrowers, Aldermore has a five-year fixed rate at 5.54% at 75% LTV, and with a 1.5% fee. Multi-property investors and company landlords can get a five-year fixed rate at 5.44% (also 75% LTV) with a 1.5% fee.

Yesterday, NatWest and Virgin Money announced cuts to their mortgage rates:

  • NatWest has reduced rates on its residential mortgage deals by up to 0.24 percentage points and by up to 0.12 percentage points for buy to let borrowers. It is offering a two-year fixed rate deal for residential purchase customers at 4.93% – this deal is at 60% LTV and has no fees. It has a fee-free five-year fix for purchases at 4.68% at 85% LTV. Remortgage deals see the biggest cuts. The two-year fixed rate is cut by 0.24 percentage points to 4.88% – at 75% LTV. There is a £995 fee. At the same time buy to let deals have been cut by 0.12 percentage points. The lender is offering a five-year fixed rate for remortgage or purchase customers at 5.1% – this is at 75% LTV with a £1,495 fee.
  • Virgin Money has cut rates on purchase, remortgage and buy to let loans by up to 0.2 percentage points. It is the lender’s second rate cut in as many weeks. It is offering a five-year fixed rate for purchase customers at 4.17% at 65% LTV. There is a £1,495 fee. It has a 10-year remortgage fixed rate at 3.99% at 75% LTV with a £995 fee. Its buy to let remortgage five-year fixed rate is 4.59% at 50% LTV with a £3,995 fee.

See related stories below

31 January: BoE Sees Approvals Slump In 2022

Mortgage approvals have slumped to their lowest level since May 2020, according to the latest data from the Bank of England’s Money and Credit Report, writes Jo Thornhill.

Loans for house purchase fell to 35,000 in December last year – down from 46,000 in November. It was the fourth consecutive monthly fall in approvals.

Once figures from the initial onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and the period immediately after are excluded, house purchase approvals are now at their lowest level since January 2009, when the number was 32,400.

The total value of new approvals fell to just £8.1 billion last month, down from £10.2 billion in November. The six-month average for monthly mortgage approvals is 62,180 with a value of £14.1 billion.

Approvals for remortgaging (with a different lender) fell to 26,100 in December last year, down from 32,600 in November – the lowest level seen since January 2013 (25,800). In terms of value, there was a month-on-month decline from £6.9 billion to £5.6 billion.

Again, the six-month average for remortgages is 45,938 approvals at a value of £9.4 billion.

The main driver behind the slow down in mortgage activity has been the steep increase in mortgage rates. Bank of England figures show the interest rate paid on new mortgages increased by 0.32 percentage points in December to 3.67%.

This is the biggest monthly increase since December 2021, when the recent series of Bank of England Bank Rate increases began.

Figures compiled for Forbes Advisor by online mortgage broker Better.co.uk show that, while fixed rates have steadily fallen over the past three months, they are up to 3.22 percentage points higher than this time last year.

For example, the average two-year fixed rate is now 5.12%, according to Better – this compares to an average of 5.65% in October last year (the highest average in 2022). But average two-year fixed rates were at 1.9% this time last year.

That said, mortgage brokers say there is evidence of stabilisation in the market with continued rate cuts, which should give borrowers greater confidence.

Sam Amidi, Better’s head of mortgages, said:“Given the economic downturn from October, we have naturally seen approvals drop as the consumer considers their next move.

“Historically the Christmas period has been a reflection period for reviewing finances and we have seen a strong response at the start of 2023 with consumer confidence coming back and lenders reducing rates.

“Despite the fact we expect the Base Rate to increase on 2 February, lenders are optimistic this will have little impact on the current rates available and, if anything, there will be further competition in the market with lenders competing on pricing.

“This alone should give the consumer more confidence that we’re moving into a period of stability.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “At first sight the numbers are gloomy. This is at least partly down to the average rate on new mortgages continuing to rise significantly. As borrowers will be all too aware, this comes on the back of significant increases in the average rate paid over the previous three months.

“Thankfully, the situation has significantly eased for borrowers. Lenders continue to chip away at fixed-rate mortgage pricing with Virgin Money reducing its five-year fixed rate to 4.17%, it won’t be long before the psychological 4% barrier is breached, making fixes considerably more attractive than they were just a few weeks ago.”

26 January: Fixed Rates Fall At Buy-To-Let Specialist

The Mortgage Works, the buy-to-let lender owned by Nationwide building society, is the latest lender to cut rates across its fixed mortgage range by up to 0.5 percentage points, writes Jo Thornhill.

Its two-year fixed rate loan is now 3.99% (at 65% LTV). The equivalent five-year deal is 4.39%. At 75% LTV two year fixed rates start from 4.29% and five-year rates are from 4.79%. These deals are for purchase or remortgage and all carry a 3% arrangement fee.

Fixed rates for landlords with large portfolios see the biggest (0.5 percentage points) cuts. The fee-free two-year fixed rate (75% LTV) falls from 6.09% to 5.59%.

In contrast, TMW’s tracker mortgage rates have been increased by up to 0.2 percentage points. The no-fee two-year tracker deal is 4.99% (65% LTV).

TMW follows a slew of lenders who have trimmed their fixed rate mortgages down in recent weeks as competition for new business has increased.

Daniel Clinton at The Mortgage Works said: “These latest rate reductions, which are being rolled out across a significant number of products, will see our headline two-year fixed product fall below four per cent and shows that we are doing what we can to support landlords to manage their finances.”

See related stories below

25 January: More Big Names Cut Rates

TSB and Accord, the mortgage brand owned by Yorkshire Building Society, have both cut rates across their mortgage ranges following the market trend for rate cuts in recent weeks, writes Jo Thornhill.

  • Accord has tweaked rates down by 0.17 percentage points on its buy-to-let range. The new rates will be available from 27 January. It is offering a five-year fixed rate at 4.97% at 60% LTV for house purchases, although there is a steep £1,995 fee. The deal pays £500 cashback. There is a two-year fix at 4.9% (60% LTV) with the same fee. At 75% LTV rates start at 5.35% for a two-year fix (£1,495 fee and £500 cashback) for remortgage customers or 5.39% over five years with no fee.
  • TSB will cut rates by up to 1.8 percentage points on its residential mortgage range from 27 January. It will also cut rates by up to 1.55 percentage points on its shared equity and shared ownership fixed rate mortgage range, and by up to 0.8 percentage points on its buy to let fixed rates. The three-year fixed rates (which have been cut by 1.8 percentage points) will start from 4.64% at 60% LTV with a £995 fee. The five-year fixed rates start from 4.39% (cut by 0.4 percentage points) at 60% LTV with a £995 fee.

23 January: Halifax Joins List Of Lenders Refreshing Loan Offers

More lenders have trimmed mortgage rates as competition for business remains strong, writes Jo Thornhill.

Our round-up of the latest mortgage rate changes includes:

  • Halifax rates have been cut by up to 0.2 percentage points and the lender has added three-year fixed rates to its range. Three-year fixed rates start from 4.68% with no fee (60% LTV) or from 4.5% with a £999 fee. The five-year fixed rates start at 4.46% with no fee (60%LTV) or from 4.86% at 90% LTV. There is also a 10-year fixed rate. Rates start from 4.15% for borrowers with 40% deposit or equity in their home.
  • Virgin Money lender has slashed rates across its mortgage range by up to 0.59%. Its broker-exclusive deals see some of the biggest cuts with a two-year fixed remortgage deal now priced at 4.6% (65% LTV). Five-year fixed rates start from 4.28% (65% LTV) or 4.7% at 95% LTV, both with a £1,495 fee.
  • Landbay, the specialist buy-to-let lender, has cut rates by up to 0.3 percentage points on its five-year fixed rate deals. Rates start from 4.29% at 55% LTV. Landbay charges a percentage-based product fee ranging from 2% to 7%. It is also offering a five-year fixed rate for borrowers at 75% LTV from 5.39% with a 2% fee, or at 4.79% with a 5% fee.

19 January: Fixed Deals Proliferate Around 5% Mark

Mortgage rates continue to nudge down, in welcome news for borrowers, writes Jo Thornhill. Here’s our latest round-up of the changes:

  • Nationwide building society has cut mortgage rates (fixed and tracker) for the second time this month, this time by up to 0.2 percentage points, effective from Friday 20 January. It follows a cut of up to 0.6 percentage points across its range on January 6. First time buyers can now get a five-year fixed rate at 4.69% with no fee, at 85% loan to value (this rate has been cut by 0.15%). Remortgage customers can get a two-year tracker deal at 3.84% with a £999 fee at 60% LTV (reduced by 0.2%).
  • Skipton building society has cut its two-year and five-year fixed-rate deals by up to 0.42 percentage points. It is now offering a five-year fixed-rate deal at 95% LTV at 5.03% with a £495 fee, available for purchase only, and a two-year fixed rate deal at 60% LTV at 4.75% with a £995 fee and £250 cashback, for purchase and remortgage. The lender has also reintroduced its 85% loan-to-value (LTV) ratio range after withdrawing it last September.
  • NatWest has tweaked its rates down by up to 0.1 percentage points on its remortgage range and by up to 0.06 percentage points for existing customers. It follows cuts of up to 0.72 percentage points earlier this month. It has a two-year fixed rate at 5.08% for remortgage customers at 60% LTV. The equivalent five-year fixed rates start from 4.28%.
  • MPowered Mortgages, available through brokers, has cut its fixed rate range by up to 0.27 percentage points. Its five-year fixed rate is 4.41% for borrowers at 60% LTV. It has a three-year fixed rate at 4.54% at 60% LTV – both deals have a £999 fee.
  • Keystone Property Finance, the specialist buy-to-let lender, has reduced its standard and holiday home fixed-rate mortgage deals by up to 0.2 percentage points. It offers a five-year fixed rate at 5.64% with a 4% arrangement fee or 5.89% with a lower 3% fee. Both products are at 65% LTV.

You can read more about available mortgage rates here.

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January 17: Trend Reflects Optimism On Bank Rate Increases

Lenders are continuing to take a knife to their fixed rate mortgage deals as competition returns to the market, writes Jo Thornhill.

A roundup of the latest lenders to reduce rates includes:

  • HSBC: Residential mortgage rates cut by up to 0.15 percentage points and buy-to-let deals cut by up to 0.1 percentage points. Among its new offerings is a 90% loan to value five-year fixed rate with no fee and £500 cashback for first-time buyers at 4.94% (a cut of 0.1 percentage points).
  • Santander: Reduced fixed rate mortgage deals across the board by up to 0.59 percentage points and tracker deals by up to 0.5 percentage points. It is offering a two-year fix at 4.84% (this has been cut by 0.45 percentage points) for purchase borrowers at 60% LTV, with a £999 fee. The fee-free option (also cut by 0.45 percentage points) is now 5.14%. There is a five-year fix at 90% LTV with no fee at 5.09% (this has been cut by 0.45 percentage points). The same deal with a £999 fee has been lowered by 0.3 percentage points to 4.94%. At 95% LTV, the five-year fix with no fee has been cut by 0.2 percentage points to 5.84%.
  • Fleet Mortgages: Broker-only buy-to-let lender Fleet has cut its fixed rates by up to 0.2 percentage points. Five-year fixed rates now start at 5.29% for 65% loan-to-value (LTV) and 5.39% for 75% LTV. A seven-year fixed rate is available at 5.43%.
  • Bluestone Mortgages: Rates reduced by up to 0.5 percentage points on all fixed rate residential and buy-to-let mortgages. Rates now start from 7.10% fixed on lending up to 85% LTV.
  • Atom Bank, is increasing the offer validity period for its remortgage and purchase products to six months. It has also introduced new rates for its two, three and five-year purchase and remortgage products, with reductions of up to 0.35 percentage points across its entire range. For a 60% LTV, the app-based bank is offering a five-year remortgage fix at 4.34% to 31 May 2026 (£900 fee applies). For purchase home loans and LTVs up to 80%, there is also a no-fee, five-year fix at 4.54% to the same date.

Sam Amidi, head of mortgages at our broker partner Better.co.uk, said: “With [wholesale market] swap rates dropping in recent weeks, we’ve seen more lender confidence in reducing rates.

“Despite the imminent announcement on the Bank rate by the Bank of England in February – with rates expected to increase again – lenders’ confidence in reducing rates is a good indication of where the market is heading. While we don’t expect any significant rate drops, small reductions can make a difference for the consumer.”

13 January: Higher Payments And Deposits Making Ownership More Difficult

Monthly mortgage payments are taking a larger bite out of typical first-time buyer household outgoings, writes Laura Howard.

Monthly mortgage payments now account for 39% of a typical first-time buyer’s take-home pay, compared to the longer-term average of around 30%, according to Nationwide’s Affordability Report, published today.

The findings are based on first-time buyer households with outstanding mortgages at 80% of the property value.

Against a backdrop of nine interest rate rises during 2022, mortgage costs surged after the ill-starred mini-Budget in late September, reaching their highest levels since 2010.

But, while financial conditions have largely since stabilised, mortgage rates have not recovered to levels seen before the mini-Budget, according to Nationwide.

Andrew Harvey, the lender’s senior economist, said: “The biggest change in terms of housing affordability for potential buyers over the past year has been the rise in the cost of servicing the typical mortgage as a result of the increase in mortgage rates.

“This measure is now well above the long run average, at 39% of take-home (net) pay, and close to the levels seen in the run up to the financial crisis.”

Mortgage rates peaked at around 6.5% last October, but have been steadily falling since. According to data from online mortgage broker Better.co.uk, the average cost of a two-year fix now stands at 5.10%, or 4.72% for a five-year fix.

However, rates are higher for small-deposit mortgages most common among first-time buyers.

While house prices have fallen in recent months, raising a deposit also remains a significant barrier to buying a first home, according to Nationwide.

A 20% deposit on a typical first-rung property is now equivalent to 112% of the full-time worker’s pre-tax income – a similar level to a year ago, and only just shy of the all-time high of 117% recorded earlier in 2022.

A separate report from estate agent Hamptons, using the latest government census data, revealed that the number of private renters grew by 1.12m over the last decade – led by the 10% most deprived areas of England and Wales.

Hamptons found that around 23% of households in the poorest 10% of the two nations rent their homes privately – up from 18% a decade ago.

Aneisha Beveridge, Hampton’s head of research, said: “Growth in the private rented sector over the last decade has come on the back of fewer younger people buying their own home, particularly in the less affluent areas.”

12 January: FCA Fears 750,000 Defaults

More than 750,000 households are at risk of defaulting on their mortgages in the next two years, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), writes Jo Thornhill.

In a letter to the cross-party Treasury Select Committee, Nikhil Rathi, the regulator’s chief executive, said 200,000 households had already fallen behind with their home loan repayments by June 2022.

FCA data and estimates predict a further 570,000 are at risk of ‘mortgage payment shortfall’ over the next two years. This is when more than 30% of a borrower’s gross household income is going towards mortgage payments.

The figures throw the spotlight on the rising cost of living crisis as millions of households face the double whammy of rising interest rates and inflation at levels not seen for 40 years.

It comes just days after the Office for National Statistics reported that 1.4 million households will face higher mortgage payments this year as their fixed rate deals come to an end and they remortgage to a more expensive loan.

In his letter to MPs, Mr Rathi said: “This number [of at-risk borrowers] is sensitive to changes in interest rates, and factored in market interest rate expectations as of 23 September, as well as external forecasts of changes in real incomes between 2020 and 2022.

“Specifically we assumed that all households would experience a 10% fall in their real incomes over this period.

“This does not necessarily mean that those at risk will miss a mortgage payment because some people will be able to reduce their spending or make use of savings to help them meet their mortgage commitments.”

Mr Rathi adds that any borrower who is facing financial difficulty should contact their lender to look at ways to reduce or smooth the increases to their mortgage payments.

He said the FCA is continuing to work with lenders and has published guidance to firms about forbearance and how to help customers who are struggling.

11 January: Lenders Trim Interest Charges To Tempt Borrowers

New mortgage deals have the shortest shelf life ever at just 15 days on average before being withdrawn, according to analysts Moneyfacts. This is the joint lowest amount of time on record, level with October 2022, writes Jo Thornhill.

In comparison, this time last year mortgage deals were available for 28 days on average.

But while this points to increased volatility in the mortgage market, which could cause difficulties for borrowers looking to secure a new deal, fixed mortgage rates are falling.

Our mortgage partner, better.co.uk, reports the average two- and five-year fixed rates have tracked steadily downwards in recent weeks, down to 5.12% and 4.72% respectively, following 13 consecutive months of rises up to November 2022.

Product choice is also showing signs of improvement, following a significant drop in available deals at the end of last year.

There are currently more than 3,600 mortgage deals available, according to Moneyfacts – this compares to the 2.258 on the market in October 2022. But this is still down on the 5,394 deals available in January last year.

Rachel Springall at Moneyfacts said: “As existing mortgage holders weigh up their refinancing plans and others debate their home purchase desires in 2023, the cost of living crisis and inflated interest rates over recent months may well impact borrowers’ intentions of getting a new deal.

“However, it is anticipated that fixed interest rates will fall further in the months to come to entice new business.”

9 January: ONS Says Million-Plus Households Face Dearer Payments

Nearly one-and-a-half million UK households with fixed-rate mortgages face substantially increased borrowing costs when they renew their home loan arrangements this year, according to the UK’s official data provider, Andrew Michael writes.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says that 1.4 million mortgage customers, who bought properties with fixed-rate home loans when interest rates were set below 2%, are due to renew their arrangements in 2023.

Mortgage interest rates have jumped appreciably over the past year in light of an extended series of rises in the Bank rate imposed by the Bank of England (BoE) to head off soaring levels of inflation.

The rate, which currently stands at 3.5% – having risen nine times and by 3.4 percentage points since December 2021 – is an important measure that affects both the cost of borrowing, as well as the amount of interest that banks and building societies pay to savers.

Despite the run of Bank rate rises, most borrowers with fixed-rate mortgages have, until now, been insulated from their effects because they have remained within the offer periods for their home loans.

Based on BoE data, however, the ONS estimates that around 353,000 fixed-rate mortgages are due to be renewed between January and March this year. It adds that the number of fixed-rate mortgage deals due to expire during the course of 2023 will then peak at around 371,000 between April and June 2023.

According to Moneyfacts, the average two-year fixed-rate deal stood at 2.38% a year ago, but has increased markedly over the intervening period to 5.79% today.

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst, at Hargreaves Lansdown said: “1.4 million mortgage borrowers are in a fixed-rate deal that’ll set them back an extra £250 a month by the end of the year. They’re coming to the end of fixed-rate deals, most of which feature interest rates under 2%, and face fixing at as much as 6% going forward.”

“It means either paying more for years, or reverting to a sky-high standard variable rate, while they wait for rates to fall.”

Gary Smith, financial planning director at wealth manager Evelyn Partners, said: “Households must be prepared for increased outgoings this year. Remortgaging to substantially higher rates will, for many, be a significant part of that.”

“Those who have deals expiring this year face a difficult choice as to whether to fix again, or risk a variable rate deal. The former could mean locking in at a relatively high interest rate in order to achieve certainty. The latter could mean rising payments in the short-term, but possibly lower payments in the medium-term as benchmark interest rates plateau or even start to come down.”

(Video) Mortgage Rates will be lower in Summer | MORTGAGE MINUTE

For those looking for some certainty over repayments, a two-year fix might make more sense. This is because if rates fell in the next year or two, home loan customers could then step on to a better deal.

An added financial danger, however, is that those who are already paying a substantial proportion of their net income in mortgage costs will be stretched by the increased payments on their new deal. In turn, they could be forced into reducing any savings provision they are already making whether in the form of cash deposits, individual savings account, or pension.

“One tactic some will turn to is to negotiate a longer-term mortgage in excess of 25 year, and for many that could take repayments into retirement age for one or both of the borrowers,” Evelyn’s Gary Smith said.

“This can be a reasonable move either if there is a plan to overpay in future years before retirement, or if the borrowers are comfortable that they can continue to repay a mortgage after retiring without significantly impacting their living standard. For some, it could mean putting off retirement to a later date.”

6 January: Respite For Borrowers As Providers Start To Cut Fixed Rates

Competition in the home loan market has started to intensify, as news emerges that several high street lenders are cutting interest rates on their fixed mortgage deals, Jo Thornhill writes.

Nationwide Building Society, TSB and Virgin Money have all announced plans to cut mortgage rates in what will be welcome news for borrowers.

Mortgage brokers say they also expect more lenders to follow suit as stronger competition returns to the mortgage market. The news comes despite big increases to the Bank of England’s base rate during 2022.

The influential bank rate, which affects both borrowers and savers, currently stands at 3.5% having risen nine times since December 2021.

Nationwide has cut its fixed mortgage rates by up to 0.6 percentage points for first-time buyers, home movers and remortgage customers.

Rival high street lender TSB is cutting fixed rates for purchase and remortgage by up to 1.3 percentage points from Monday (9 January).

Elsewhere, Virgin Money has also reduced its fixed rates by up to 0.93 percentage points. The lender has also launched a range of new residential and buy-to-let mortgage deals.

Nationwide, one of the biggest UK lenders, is offering a five-year fixed rate of 4.43% aimed at remortgage borrowers with at least 60% equity in their property. A three-year fix, for borrowers with 20% equity in their home, is priced at 4.99%.

First-time buyers with a 15% cash deposit can secure a two-year fixed rate with Nationwide at 5.09%, or 4.84% over five years.

Sam Amidi, head of mortgages at broker Better, said: “We saw less movement on mortgage rates at the end of 2022 as most lenders had hit their mortgage quota for the year. These latest moves from Nationwide, TSB and Virgin show competition in the market is returning and we expect more lenders will cut rates in the coming weeks.”

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4 January: Cocktail Of Factors See Numbers At Lowest Since Pandemic

The number of mortgages approved for house purchases fell to 46,100 in November from 57,900 in October.

It marks the lowest level recorded since June 2020 (40,500) when the property market ground to a halt during the Covid pandemic.

Approvals for remortgaging – as defined by switching to a different lender – plummeted to 32,500 in November from 51,300 in October. This is below the previous six-month average of 48,100.

The figures, from the Bank of England’s latest Money and Credit Report, are evidence of a weakening property market due to rising borrowing costs, falling property prices and the negative after-effects of last September’s mini-Budget under then-Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng.

Alice Haine, personal finance analyst at investment platform, Bestinvest, commented: “November’s drop in mortgage approvals and remortgaging is no surprise when you consider the catalogue of challenges facing the property market, with higher borrowing costs, double-digit inflation and falling real wages impacting affordability for both first-time buyers and those looking to refinance.”

The figures also reflect many buyers failing affordability checks or struggling to secure a mortgage at all after a spate of major lenders pulled deals following the mini-Budget, she added.

However, while mortgage approvals fell in November, individual mortgage debt increased to £4.4 billion from £3.6 billion in October, according to the Bank of England.

On the back of nine interest rate rises in 2022, the cost of mortgages also increased. Interest paid on new borrowing rose by 26 basis points to 3.35%, while rates on existing mortgages increased by 9 basis points to 2.38%.

But, while the odds have been against them, mortgaged first-time buyers are still set to make up 53% of the property market in 2022, according to separate research from Yorkshire Building Society – the UK’s eighth largest mortgage lender.

At 370,000, the forecast number of first-time buyers for 2022 will represent the second highest annual total for 14 years.

Nitesh Patel, Yorkshire Building Society’s strategic economist who forecasted the figures, said: “Demand from first-time buyers remains strong, even with house prices being at historic highs for much of the year and the country experiencing such political and economic uncertainty.”

20 December: Support Aimed At First-Time Buyers With 5% Deposit

The government has announced that its Mortgage Guarantee Scheme (MGS) will be extended by a year, until the end of 2023.

Launched in April 2021, the scheme enables first-time buyers to buy a home with a 5% deposit.

With average property values in the UK well above £260,000, many first-time buyers – who make up 85% of all housebuyers – struggle to raise the funds for deposits. The higher the deposit put forward, the more favourable the terms of the mortgage tend to be.

MGS has thus far helped over 24,000 households get onto the property ladder, according to government data.

Under the scheme the government offers mortgage lenders financial guarantees so they can provide mortgages that cover 95% of the purchase price, subject to the usual affordability checks, on a house worth up to £600,000.

John Glen MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “Extending this scheme means thousands more families have the chance to benefit, and it supports the market as we navigate through these difficult times.

“To also help people to get onto the property ladder, the government has increased the level where first-time buyers start paying stamp duty from £300,000 to £425,000. Furthermore, first-time buyers can get relief on properties costing up to £625,000, as opposed to £500,000 previously. Both of these measures are time-limited to April 2025.”

Government schemes intended to support home ownership:

  • Help to Buy Individual Savings Accounts (Help to Buy ISA): Aimed at first-time buyers, provides a tax-free bonus of up to £3,000.
  • Lifetime ISA (LISA): A long-term savings product to support people saving for a first home or to fund later life.
  • Shared Ownership: Gives first-time buyers the option to buy a share of their home (between 25% and 75%) and pay rent on the remaining share.
  • First Homes: A scheme designed to help local first-time buyers and keyworkers onto the property ladder, by offering homes at a discount of 30% compared to the market price.

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8 December: Options Include Reducing Rates Or Extending Term

Mortgage customers concerned about affording their repayments should receive guidance and support from their lender to help them weather the cost of living crisis, according to the Financial Conduct Authority.

The regulator wants banks and building societies to provide tailored support and measures including:

  • temporarily reducing the interest rate
  • extending the term of the mortgage to lower monthly payments
  • switching the loan to an interest-only arrangement, either permanently or for a limited period, again to lower monthly payments.

Each of these tactics comes at a cost. For example, any deferment of interest owed will lead to higher repayments at a future date, while extending the term will increase the total amount paid over the life of the mortgage.

Also, extending the term beyond retirement age may not be possible if the lender calculates that you would not be able to afford repayments at that point.

Interest-only deals (as opposed to standard capital and interest mortgages) work by deferring repayment of the capital debt until the end of the loan period, so they are only available to those who have a credible way of repaying the total amount at the end of the mortgage.

Anyone switching to interest-only terms temporarily would face higher repayments when the short-term arrangement came to an end.

Making changes to your mortgage may also affect your credit file, with prospective lenders in the future being able to see that you took action because of fears of meeting your repayments.

The regulator says anyone worried about being able to afford their mortgage payments should contact their lender as soon as possible. Its rules mean lenders are required to treat customers fairly and give them support tailored to their circumstances.

Sheldon Mills, head of consumers and competition at the FCA, said: “Most borrowers are able to keep up with their mortgage payments and should continue to do so. But if you’re struggling to pay your mortgage, or are worried you might, you don’t need to struggle alone. Your lender has a range of tools available to help, so you should contact them as soon as possible.”

Lenders have until 21 December to respond to the regulator’s latest guidance, which was issued after the government hosted a roundtable discussion on Wednesday with the FCA, lenders and consumer representatives to discuss the impact of the cost of living crisis on the mortgage market.

At the meeting, lenders committed to enabling customers who are up to date with payments to switch to a new competitive mortgage without another affordability test (an assessment of their ability to make repayments).

More information will also be provided to help customers plan ahead when their fixed-rate mortgage deal comes to an end.

The government also confirmed that it will make the Support for Mortgage Interest benefit easier to access. This enables those on Universal Credit to apply for help with mortgage interest payments.

4 November: Bank Rate Expected To Peak At 4.75% This Time In 2023

The Bank of England yesterday increased its Bank rate by 0.75 percentage points to 3% in a bid to stave off steepling levels of inflation, writes Andrew Michael.

It is now at its highest level since 2008. But where will it go next? And what are the implications for borrowers?

The Bank rate is important because it is used by banks, building societies and other financial institutions to determine both lending costs and the returns paid on savings.

Explaining its decision, the Bank pointed to a “very challenging outlook for the UK economy”. It added that it expected “the UK to be in recession for a prolonged period” and warned that consumer price inflation “would remain elevated at levels over 10% in the near term”.

Financial markets reacted to the news by estimating that official interest rates would top out at about 4.75% by next autumn. Many mortgage rates will then be set at a premium to this level.

The Bank’s decision on Thursday will drive up costs straight away for around 2.2 million UK mortgage customers that have taken out variable rate or tracker mortgages. The latter mirror movements in the Bank rate so borrowers will experience an immediate knock-on in terms of their monthly repayments.

However, in comments made after the initial rate-setting announcement, Andrew Bailey, the Bank’s governor, suggested markets had over-exaggerated their predictions for future rate rises. He added that lenders would need to reflect this in their mortgage pricing.

He said: “[The Bank rate] will have to go up by less than currently priced into financial markets. That is important because, for instance, it means that the rates on new fixed-term mortgages should not need to rise as they have done.”

In the period of relative stability since Jeremy Hunt, Chancellor of the Exchequer, reversed most of the decisions made by his predecessor, Kwasi Kwarteng, in his September mini-budget, fixed-rate mortgages have already started to edge down in price.

Following yesterday’s move, Simon Gammon, managing partner at Knight Frank Finance, said he thought that fixed-rate products are likely to remain stable, or perhaps even fall further: “Many fixed-rate products sit somewhere between 5.5% and 6%. Swap rates, instruments used by lenders to price mortgages, have been easing.

“If they continue to do so, we believe that many borrowers could still enjoy fixed-rate products starting with a four.”

Market confidence

Paul Holland, a mortgage broker at Henchurch Lane Financial Services, said: “Fixed rates have already factored in the latest increase so they shouldn’t move any further north. They tend to be based on swap rates, which if anything, are now coming down as some confidence is restored to the market following the U-turn on everything done by Kwasi Kwarteng and Liz Truss.”

Paul Elliott, managing director at broker Propp, said: “The key from a borrower’s perspective is how the swap rate markets react to this increase and the Autumn budget [on 17 November] given that fixed-rate mortgages are still the most popular option for most people.

“But even if fixed-rates drop from the peaks seen in October, we’re still entering a prolonged period of higher rates than most borrowers have been used to for the past 15 years. This will undoubtedly put pressure on affordability and exacerbate the current cost of living crisis for many. Difficult times lie ahead.”

Jon Halbert, mortgage and protection adviser at Key Financial Associates, said: “The latest rate rise potentially kills the [house] purchase market stone dead and is catastrophic for anyone coming out of a fixed rate.

“Anyone who fixed their mortgage last year for longer than 2 years, at less than 2% for some and less than 3% for others, may not need to change their spending habits for now. But for those families whose fixed-rates end in the next few months, this could mean mortgage defaults and even repossession.

“Anyone who has a mortgage with a fixed rate ending within the next six months who is worried about this and the effect it will have on them should speak to a mortgage broker as soon as possible. It has never been more important to be proactive.”

Henchurch Lane’s Paul Holland adds: “Bank rate predictions for the next year are tending to fall somewhere in the 4% to 5% bracket. This is expected to be relatively short-term with a target Bank rate of close to 2.5% over the longer term.

“This means that anyone looking at any kind of new mortgage rate for the next year or so, whether that be on a purchase or a renewal basis, is likely to be paying a fair amount higher than what they’ve been used to for a while now.

“Some conversations we’re having with clients include options around tracker rates, as well as longer mortgage terms and interest-only products, if viable, all of which should go some way to helping reduce the impact in the short term increase.

“Budgeting and planning should be at the forefront of any advice process. It’s time for people to start looking at their situations earlier than normal to ensure they’re not stuck later on.”

27 October: 40% Could Struggle With Mortgage Costs

Higher interest rates could leave up to 40% of homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages next year, according to analysts.

Investment firm Morgan Stanley shared analysis showing that between 35% and 40% of UK mortgages will reach the end of their initial terms over the next 12 months, leaving mortgage holders to negotiate new deals at much higher rates.

The firm predicts mortgage rates of around 6% would overstretch up to 4 in 10 UK households, as rates rise alongside escalating energy bills. Its research found 30% of households with the lowest income make up 5% of the mortgage books.

In the same analysis, as reported by the Financial Times, Morgan Stanley said mortgage affordability could be worse in the next year than it was prior to the global financial crisis.

It noted, however, that the quality of mortgage underwriting is higher now than it was pre-crisis, meaning current borrowers’ applications were more carefully vetted than they were before 2008.

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As mortgage holders anticipate painful remortgage rates, experts are advising anyone who can make overpayments to do so now, as it could qualify them for a lower-rate LTV band on their next deal and reduce interest payments in the long term.

Most mortgage lenders allow borrowers to pay up to 10% of the outstanding loan every year penalty-free.

28 September: Fears Over Higher Rates And Fate Of Sterling Hit Loan Availability

Mortgage lenders are pulling deals due to the volatility of sterling on international currency markets and the prospect of interest rate rises to 6% by next year.

Santnder, Halifax, Virgin Money, Halifax and Skipton Building Society are among the major lenders that have closed mortgage offers to new customers in the last couple of days. However, existing mortgage applications will be processed as normal.

Smaller lenders are also retreating from the market, with Nottingham for Intermediaries withdrawing 14 deals from its shelves and repricing a range of residential and buy-to-let mortgages.

Scottish and Darlington building societies are also reported to be pulling their fixed rate products.

Jamie Lennox, director at broker Dimora Mortgages, said: “The future is certainly looking bleak when Halifax, the largest lender in the UK, pulls a big selection of products on offer.

“The UK economy is on red alert and lenders and borrowers alike are having to keep a keen eye on what is a rapidly changing rate environment.”

Lenders are reacting to uncertain future pricing conditions. The sudden fall in the pound on Monday led to fears of further inflation, and the prospect of the Bank of England responding with more rate hikes.

Last week the Bank’s rate-setting Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) raised interest rates for the seventh consecutive time to 2.25%.

While the Bank swerved a swift emergency rate rise this week, it said it will monitor the volatile performance of sterling and it “will not hesitate” to raise the Bank rate to control inflation when it next meets on 3 November.

Financial turmoil follows the raft of tax cuts announced by the Government in its mini-Budget on Friday, which triggered market uncertainty around the UK’s level of borrowing.

However, in a bid to ‘restore orderly market conditions’, the government has today announced it is carrying out temporary purchases of UK government bonds by auction between today (28 September) until 14 October.

Outlook for borrowers

Fixed rate mortgages – the most popular type of deal among borrowers – are priced according to ‘swap’ rates, which reflect expected interest rate movements, rather than what interest rates are today.

The cost of the cheapest two- and five-year fixed rate mortgages is now more than three times higher than a year ago, so borrowers coming to an end of their deal now, or looking to buy, will face higher costs and have fewer mortgages to choose from.

Mortgage lenders allow you to book in your next mortgage rates up to six months in advance, so if your deal is nearing expiry, it could pay to contact a fee-free broker ahead of time.

Rising property prices could mean that, if you’re remortgaging on your existing property, your loan-to-value bracket is lower, at least unlocking the cheapest of the higher-priced deals available.

Read more on How To Ride Out The Mortgage Storm and work out potential monthly repayments against varying interest rates with our Mortgage Calulator.

22 September: Bank Rate Hiked From 1.75% To 2.25%

Mortgage borrowers – and those attempting to get onto the housing ladder – were handed a further blow today as the Bank of England announced a seventh consecutive rise in interest rates.

The 0.5 percentage point hike from 1.75% to 2.25%, agreed by the Bank’s rate-setting Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), will affect around 2.2 million households on variable rate mortgage deals.

The hike will add around £99 a month onto the cost of a £400,000 mortgage, £62 a month onto the cost of a £250,000 mortgage, or £37 a month onto the cost of a £150,000 mortgage.

Borrowers on tracker rates – which mirror movements in the Bank rate by a set margin – will see an immediate impact in payments, while those paying standard variable rates (SVRs) will see the rise at their lender’s discretion.

However, pressure is mounting on lenders to refrain from passing on the full impact of the latest rise, as households continue to struggle with rising living costs. Even before today’s hike, average SVR costs stood at 5.4% according to Moneycomms.co.uk.

Those looking to buy for the first time will have an even steeper road to climb in terms of showing sufficient affordability against lenders’ more expensive mortgage rates.

James Turford, at Even, a mortgage broker for first-time buyers, said: “There’s never been a harder climate for first-time buyers in the UK. The combination of sky-high property prices and rapidly rising essential living costs have made it nearly impossible for many wanting to take their first step onto the property ladder.”

(Video) Mortgage Rates Crashing In 2023

Mortgage deals of up to 95% of the property value are available, while first-time buyers in England and Northern Ireland are exempt from paying stamp duty on the first £300,000. Government schemes such as Help to Buy are available to help bridge affordability shortfalls, but only on new-build homes.

Until the rate of inflation cools from its current rate of 9.9% – the government target is just 2% – further interest rate rises are widely expected. However, the Bank of England has revised its peak inflation forecast down from 13% by the end of the year to 11% in October.

While there is nothing you can do about rising interest rates, it is possible to book a mortgage rate for your current home up to six months in advance – even if you are currently tied into a fixed rate deal.

Use our live mortgage tables to find out what kind of mortgage rates are available for your needs and circumstances.

1 August: Scrapping of lender ‘stress test’ relaxes mortgage affordability

Rules for would-be mortgage borrowers have been relaxed from today, as lenders no longer need to apply additional affordability tests.

Under Bank of England rules, banks and building societies had been forced to calculate whether prospective borrowers could afford their mortgage payments if the interest rate they were being offered was to rise by 3 percentage points during the initial five years of the loan.

The rules were introduced by the Bank of England in 2014 and revised in 2017. However, interest rates only increased by a maximum of just 0.5 percentage points between 2017 and 2021, prompting concerns that the 3% ‘stress test’ uplift was too high.

Lenders will now base their calculations on forecasted interest rates, although this must include a minimum ‘stress buffer’ of at least 1 percentage point above a borrower’s original mortgage rate.

However, Paul Johnson, head of mortgages at St. James’s Place said, the scrapping of the stress test, “won’t have a big impact on lenders’ affordability calculations as they will need to factor in increases in utility bills.”

Energy bills are expected to soar as high as £3,500 a year in October for a dual-fuel typical-use household.

Currently pegged at 1.25%, some forecasters are suggesting that interest rates will rise to 1.75% when the Bank of England announces its next decision on Thursday.

8 July: First Direct Launches 10-Year Fixed Rate With Unlimited Overpayments

First direct has, today, launched a new 10-year fixed rate mortgage in response to growing demand for greater security around household finances.

Borrowers are permitted to make an unlimited number of overpayments during the fixed-rate term with no penalty. Usually, lenders limit overpayments on fixed rate deals to 10% of the outstanding loan each year.

Interest rates on the mortgage – which is capped at a maximum loan size of £550,000 – are priced between 3.34% and 3.69% depending on the size of your deposit.

As an example, borrowers with the minimum 20% deposit will pay 3.59% with a £490 product fee, or the slightly higher rate of 3.69% for the fee-free option.

The mortgage is available to first-time buyers, homemovers, remortgagers, and those looking for additional borrowing, while borrowing terms can extend to up to 40 years.

First Direct joins a number of other lenders to offer 10-year fixed rate mortgages including Halifax, TSB and Lloyds, as demand grows for long-term financial certainty.

The cost of living is soaring with annual inflation at 9.1% in the year to May, while the Bank of England’s Base rate has risen five times since December from 0.1% to its current 1.25%.

Chris Pitt, chief executive of First Direct, said: “The cost of living crisis in particular has forced homeowners and prospective buyers to rejig their monthly incomings and outgoings, of which mortgage payments tend to take up the lion’s share.

“After a string of base rate hikes in 2022, the launch of this product is to give homeowners and buyers long-term peace of mind while external volatility – such as soaring house prices and rising utility bills – shows no signs of abating.”

First direct also offers two-year and five-year fixed rate mortgages. In April this year, it also launched a 5% deposit mortgage.

24 June: First Mortgage Deals Launched Under Help To Build Equity Loan Scheme

Today sees the launch of a government-backed scheme designed to help buyers with small deposits onto the property ladder with homes tailored to their exact requirements.

Help to Build, which is available in England only, offers self or custom (building on an existing shell or structure) home-builders an equity loan of between 5% and 20% (up to 40% in London), so long as they can put down a deposit of at least 5%.

The remaining 95% must be funded with a self-build mortgage from a lender registered with the scheme, which is offered by Homes England.

Darlington Building Society is the first lender to launch a Help to Build mortgage, which it is offering in conjunction with BuildLoan. It has two deals available, both three-year discounted rates priced at either 5.39% or 5.99%.

This, and other mortgages under the scheme, are offered on an interest-only basis for the duration of the build – which must take no longer than three years – but will switch to a repayment deal when the work is complete.

Darlington says it will release funds in advance of each stage of the building work required.

According to Housing Minister Stuart Andrew, Help to Build will, “break down the barriers to homeownership, as well as create new jobs, support the construction industry and kickstart a self and custom-build revolution.”

However, borrowers cannot use the government’s equity loan towards the cost of the build itself as the funds are paid directly to the lender only once the home is completed. The purpose of the equity loan is therefore to reduce the amount that’s being borrowed on the mortgage.

Repayments on the equity loan, which begin at the same time as the mortgage repayments, work in the same way as the government’s Help to Buy equity loan scheme, which closes in March 2023.

This means that for the first five years, repayments are interest-free. In year six, interest is charged at 1.75%. Repayments then increase every April based on the cost of the Consumer Prices Index measure of inflation (as measured in the previous September) plus a further 2%. CPI currently stands at a 40-year high of 9.1%.

Borrowers can pay back the equity loan at any time after the build is finished but it must be repaid in full by the end of the mortgage term or when the home is sold, whichever happens sooner.

Because it’s an equity loan, the amount you owe grows relative to the property value. This means if house prices go up, you will pay back more than you initially borrowed.

The Help to Build equity loan is not exclusively for first-time buyers, but you must live in the newly-built home as your only property to be eligible. It is not available to upgrade a home you already live in. Finally, you will need outline planning permission for the land you want to build on before you can apply.

23 June: Cost-Of-Living Crisis Means Fifth Of Homeowners Struggling To Pay Mortgage

One fifth (20%) of UK homeowners say they are unsure how they will afford their next mortgage payment, according to a recent survey by our online mortgage broker partner, Trussle.

The online survey gathered responses from 2,000 homeowners across the UK in May 2022. It also found that 38% of respondents were worried about their mortgage payments in the midst of the cost-of-living crisis.

Amanda Aumonier, head of mortgage operations at Trussle, says homeowners should consider remortgaging. According to Trussle research, this could save households up to £4,000 a year compared with a standard variable rate (SVR) mortgage.

Trussle says around 800,000 UK homeowners are currently on an SVR mortgage, and only 10% of homeowners have checked whether they are able to remortgage.

Ms Aumonier said: “Homeowners are facing a perfect storm of challenges that is pushing their finances to breaking point. This has left many feeling deeply worried as to how they can keep paying their monthly bills and make ends meet.

“However, we would urge people not to simply put their heads in the sand when it comes to their household finances. There is a range of measures from remortgaging to locking in a long term deal that can help give you greater stability and certainty.”

Although interest rates have risen, fixed mortgage rates remain competitive and the gap is closing between the cost of short and longer-term deals. Trussle has found a difference of just 0.45% between the average two-year and 10-year fixed mortgage interest rates as of June 2022.

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20 June: Would-Be Borrowers To Face Less Onerous Scrutiny

The Bank of England (BoE) is withdrawing its mortgage affordability test from 1 August.

The affordability test was introduced in 2014 and revised in 2017. It specifies a ‘stress interest rate’ to be used to calculate whether prospective borrowers would be able to meet their payments if their rate reached 3 percentage points higher than the original during the first five years of the mortgage.

However, actual interest rates increased by a maximum of only 0.5 percentage points from 2017 to 2021, prompting concerns that this 3% stress rate uplift was too high. Lenders will instead base their ‘stress test’ on forecast interest rates, although this must include a minimum ‘stress buffer’ of at least 1 percentage point above the original mortgage rate.

The move has been welcomed by Lawrence Bowles, director of research at estate agent Savills: “Removing the current stress testing could mitigate some of the impact of higher interest rates. In theory, at least, it should open up a little more capacity for house price growth.”

The removal of the test should make it less onerous for prospective borrowers to prove their ability to meet future mortgage repayments. However, rising house prices and interest rates are likely to continue to prove a hurdle for mortgage applicants.

The latest Rightmove price index showed a continued, albeit more modest, rise in property prices last month. According to Mr Bowles, the BoE’s announcement should provide “welcome relief to some would-be-buyers struggling to keep up with current criteria because of significant price growth of the past two years”.

Lenders will now be required to assess affordability by making reference to the market’s established ‘responsible lending’ rules, which include setting a maximum loan according to a multiple of the applicant’s income and analysing existing outgoings. Lenders will continue to be limited by the number of mortgages they are able to offer at loan-to-income ratios of 4.5 and above.

The announcement comes against a backdrop of rising interest rates, with the BoE increasing interest rates for the fifth consecutive time last week. Further interest rate hikes are predicted to tackle the soaring inflation rate in the UK, which will have a knock-on impact on both mortgage rates and the affordability of new mortgages.

Mr Bowles also added that “improved capacity for growth would also be dependent on how far lenders are prepared to push loan-to-income multiples under responsible lending rules”. However, he believes it is “unlikely to open up the mortgage-credit floodgates”.

16 June: Rate Rise To 1.25% Adds To Cost Of Living Woes

Our mortgages expert, Laura Howard, says today’s decision by the Bank of England to raise the UK Bank Rate to 1.25% will be unwelcome news for the nation’s homeowners and potential buyers.

“While it was widely expected, this latest rise is worrying news for the nation’s millions of mortgage holders who are already grappling – or even unable to meet – the relentless rising cost of essentials such as energy bills, fuel, and even grocery shopping.

“Anyone paying their mortgage lender’s standard variable rate (SVR), or who is on any mortgage deal that’s linked to the Bank Rate, will be forced to absorb an almost immediate impact of today’s hike into the cost of their monthly payments.

“As an example, the latest 0.25 percentage point rise will add around £26 onto the monthly cost of a £200,000 variable rate mortgage priced at 2.5%. But cumulative hikes since December 2021 – when Bank Rate stood at a much leaner 0.1% – will have added over £100 a month onto the same mortgage. That’s over £1,200 a year.

“First-time buyers and those looking to remortgage are likely to find that today’s hike, and those that have gone before it, have already been factored into the cost of new mortgages, while homeowners who are part-way through a fixed-rate mortgage will be sheltered from rate rises for now.

“But when their fixed deal ends they will be facing much higher mortgage costs.

“In light of this, it might be worth considering reserving your next mortgage deal on your current home, which you can typically do between three and six months in advance of it starting. This essentially means securing rates as they are today and taking advantage later in the year if they have since gone up.

“There is no obligation to take the deal so there’s nothing to lose if you change your mind.”

14 June: Supply Squeeze Doubles ‘Down-Valuation’ Mortgage Rejections

The number of mortgage applications rejected because a lender thought a property wasn’t worth the amount the applicant wanted to borrow has doubled since the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘Down valuations’, where there’s a mismatch between the agreed sale price of a property and the valuation carried out on behalf of a mortgage lender, can cause serious problems with mortgage applications.

For example, a borrower might agree a sale price of £350,000 with a property owner, only to find their mortgage lender values the property at just £300,000 and rejects their application.

With demand outstripping supply in the housing market, buyers are increasingly willing to pay over the odds for properties, leading to the increase in down valuations, according to an online mortgage broker Mojo Mortgages.

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‘Sellers are trying their luck’

Its research shows the rate of down valuations was at 12.8% in April, up from 10.4% a year earlier and double its mid-pandemic rate of 6.4% in December 2020.

Down valuations on remortgages was higher in April, at 15.4%.

Richard Hayes, co-founder and chief executive of Mojo Mortgages, said: “The property market has seen unprecedented demand over the last couple of years, with month after month of record price rises.

“This level of demand means that, in my opinion, some sellers are trying their luck and setting a selling price higher than estate agents recommend. With some properties, like three-bed homes, in such high demand, sellers are trying to see what they can achieve.

“With supply of new homes onto the market still well below demand, buyers are also willing to pay more for a property because of the lack of similar alternatives.”

Dealing with a down valuation

Buyers faced with down valuations may be able to renegotiate the sale price with sellers, especially if the sellers themselves are in the market for a new property and are relying on the sale to fund their next purchase.

Some lenders also allow appeals on down valuation decisions, but require strong evidence about the sale prices of other properties in the same area in order to change their decision.

Also, it may be that a valuation has been carried out remotely by someone at their desk. It may be worth asking for an in-person valuation to reevaluate anything you think they might have missed.

Each lender handles down valuations differently. It’s possible that a different lender, using a different surveyor, will return a valuation that’s closer to your agreed sale price.

Or if you’re able to increase your deposit, you could close the gap between the lender’s valuation and the sale price.

Alternatively, you could speak to your lender about a higher loan-to-value (LTV) ratio – that is, the amount you want to borrow in relation to the value of the property. Be aware, however, that higher LTVs typically mean higher rates of interest and more expensive monthly repayments.

Figures from Halifax earlier this week showed average house prices grew by 10.5% in the year to May, up to £289,099. Prices grew by 1% compared to April marking the 11th consecutive month of price rises, partially caused by the imbalance of supply and demand in the housing market.

April 27: First Direct Launches Debut 95% Mortgage

First Direct has launched its first ever 95% loan to value (LTV) mortgage for first-time buyers and people moving home.

Borrowers with a 5% deposit can choose from a two-year or five-year fixed rate, priced at 2.79% and 2.94% respectively. Both options are fee-free. The deal is available on loans of up to £550,000, meaning that buyers are able to borrow up to £522,500 if they have a deposit of £27,500.

It is not available to remortgagers.

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First-rung boost

In further bid to ease affordability constraints, First Direct’s 95% mortgage is available over a repayment term of up to 40 years. However, it also permits unlimited overpayments which can be made at any time, enabling borrowers to essentially reduce this term penalty-free.

Chris Pitt, chief executive of First Direct, said: “While the property market continues to speed along in the fast lane, first-time buyers have been left behind. While house prices continue to outpace deposits, we see this as a viable way of helping people onto the ladder.”

The mortgages also come with a six-month Agreement in Principle (AIP) compared to an industry average of two to three months.

Which other lenders offer 95% mortgages?

There are currently 56 mortgages available at 95% LTV, according to online mortgage broker Trussle. This is a considerable uplift from 2020, as the deals all but disappeared from the market during the pandemic over concerns around affordability.

In March 2021 the government launched a new Mortgage Guarantee Scheme to encourage lenders to start offering high LTV mortgages again.

Lenders that offer 95% LTV mortgages include Barclays, Santander, HSBC, NatWest, Skipton Building Society and Clydesdale Bank.

How do the First Direct deals compare?

First Direct’s offerings stack up well against other 95% deals which – due to the higher lending risk – come with higher rates than mortgages with lower LTVs.

Barclays has a two-year fixed rate mortgage priced at 2.67% with no fee – slightly cheaper than First Direct’s two-year deal of 2.79%. However, as part of the government’s Mortgage Guarantee Scheme, Barclays’ offering comes with associated restrictions, such as it cannot be used to buy new-build homes.

HSBC, First Direct’s parent bank, offers the choice of a two-year fixed rate of 2.69% with a £999 fee, or an equivalent 2.79% with no fee, while Newcastle Building Society charges 3.15% with no fee and £500 cashback.

Looking at five-year fixed rate 95% mortgages, Barclays offers the same rate as First Direct’s 2.94%, while HSBC’s offering is slightly higher at 2.99%. Both deals are also fee-free.

However, all deals with the exception of First Direct’s, limit penalty-free overpayments to 10% a year.

For up-to-date mortgage rates, input your criteria into our mortgage tables below.

Choosing a deal

It’s important to factor in all considerations when choosing a mortgage, including fees versus headline rate, tie-ins and early repayment charges.

Look also at the follow-on rate, which is what the deal will revert to at the end of the term. That said, many homeowners look to remortgage to another rate once their initial fixed rate period ends.

A fee-free independent mortgage broker such as our partner Trussle, will crunch the numbers on your behalf and advise on the best deals for your circumstances.

Amanda Aumonier, head of mortgage operations Trussle, said: “High loan-to-value mortgages can play a crucial role in ensuring the market remains accessible to all, by slashing the size of deposits needed to secure a home. We hope to see this trend continue so that everyone can aspire to own their own home.”

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