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How to Find the Best Fixed Rate Mortgage

Sep 11, 2008
There is no escaping the fact that finding a fixed rate mortgage is more difficult than a few years ago and it will certainly cost more. Furthermore, a recently commissioned Treasury report concludes that such difficulties will persist until at least 2010. This is true across the whole range of different mortgage types, of course, and there has been some indication in the middle of 2008, in fact that rates for some fixed rate mortgages have improved from the borrower's point of view. Can the hopeful borrower do anything, therefore, to secure the best fixed rate mortgage?

The element of certainty - of knowing just how much your mortgage is going to be costing each month - is always attractive, but especially so when market conditions are uncertain and particularly for first-time buyers. The certainty of a fixed rate for the first few years of the mortgage (typically two years) is a considerable help when managing a budget that is already fairly well stretched.

Borrowers already on a fixed rate mortgage face a potential problem, however, when the fixed rate period ends and they are forced to find the additional cash necessary either to continue with their existing borrower or to remortgage at the current market rate. One of the first lessons in finding the best fixed rate mortgage, therefore, is to plan well ahead and to take into account the possible impact on repayments once the term ends.

Planning ahead will also be the key to finding the finances for the mortgage in the first place. Figures released by the Bank of England show that by the middle of 2008 average rates for mortgages with fixed rates for the first two years had risen to their highest level since the year 2000. Moreover, it is not only the cost of repayments that calls for careful planning. Most mortgage lenders - and not only those offering fixed rate deals - are these days demanding deposits of at least 20-25% of the purchase price of the home (indeed, the Bank of England has stopped collecting statistics on lending at more than this loan-to-value ratio, because they are so rare)

Saving for a deposit of 20-25% or more; the increased cost of repayments; and providing for some kind of safety net once the fixed term comes to an end, will all take careful planning on the part of the prospective borrower.

There is a final point on the checklist of those looking for the best fixed rate mortgage and that relates to the lender's assessment of the borrower's risk. With their shortage of funds available for lending still so acute, lenders can continue to pick and choose their customers. In practice, this means that most lenders will be scrutinising applicants' credit histories and favouring only those with an almost prefect credit rating. Prospective borrowers who have had any kind of problem with credit or debt in the past, therefore, may wish to review and improve their credit rating before making any application for a fixed rate - or indeed any kind of - mortgage.
About the Author
Confused.com is one of the UK's biggest and most popular price comparison services. Confused.com helps consumers save money on everything from mortgages to current accounts.
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