Top tips for mortgage borrowers in the current climate

Nia Williams

November 8, 2010

But help is at hand – unbiased.co.uk has asked mortgage advisers give their top tips to help first-time buyers and those looking to remortgage to find the best rates.

Bob Riach, Riach Independent Financial Advisers

“Even if the base rate does not rise before the end of the year, it is inevitable that interest rates will start to go up at some stage. You should act now to protect yourself from higher monthly payments. Obviously, any borrowers on a tracker mortgage would see their interest rate rise in line with any base rate increase. So borrowers should move to a new fixed rate deal if they think variable mortgage rates will rise in due course.”

Ronan Marion, Worldwide Financial Planning Ltd

“Currently certain mortgage providers are offering something known as a “Switch & Fix” option with all of their tracker products at the moment. This means that you can select a tracker product now but should you wish to move to a fixed rate within the tie-in period they will allow you to switch to a fixed rate without incurring an Early Repayment Charge. This is proving to be very popular with many customers wishing to secure a tracker rate now but like the idea of having the flexibility of securing a fixed rate should interest rates increase.”

Harry Katz, Norwest consultants

“If you have been on a fixed rate deal that has already or is about to expire, some mortgage providers will allow you to go onto their standard variable rate. These are excellent deals and don’t involve the hassle or cost of changing lenders – so stick with them, it’s probably the best deal around for you.”

Jane King, Ash-ridge private finance

“Consumers should be looking at either trackers with a rate of around 3% or less with a “Switch to fix” option, which will give them the advantage of a low rate now combined with the comfort of being able to switch to a fixed rate later, without incurring early redemption penalties. For consumers looking for a more stable environment long term fixes are looking extremely good value now so a good 4 or 5 year fix at less than 5% is definitely worth considering if you want to ride out any market uncertainty in the medium term.”

Damien O’Dwyer, Lexington Wealth Management Ltd

“We are advising clients to consider short term trackers or ones that have short redemption charges, say 18 months to 2 years. Rates will increase and this gives time to reassess our position. For those fortunate to have higher equity and deposits and a more cautious approach, 5 year fixed rates are excellent value at present.”

Ray Boulger, John Charcol

“Following the 3rd quarter GDP figures, one has to question whether the dynamics of the market have changed enough to mean that it is now time to switch to a fixed rate mortgage. However, one needs to be cautious about reading too much into the initial estimated GDP figures. The first estimate by the ONS nearly always gets revised later, sometimes upwards, sometimes downwards and often significantly. For example the initial estimate from the ONS for Q2 2008 showed an increase in GDP for that quarter of 0.2%, but this was subsequently revised by 0.5% to a fall of 0.3%. A revision of 0.5% when you are starting off with a figure of only 0.2% is a pretty big change! Likewise the initial ONS estimate for Q3 2008 of – 0.5% has since been revised to – 0.9% and the initial Q4 2008 figure of – 1.5% down to – 2.1%. Overall the initial quarterly estimates for 2009 have been revised down by 0.4% but there is still plenty of time for further revisions.”

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