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Should you remortgage?

Many can slash costs by switching mortgage

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Lesley | Edited by Johanna

Updated April 2017

A remortgage is where you take out a new mortgage on a property you already own - either to replace your existing mortgage, or to borrow money against your property.

Around a third of all home loans made in the UK are actually remortgages. This guide spells out when you should or shouldn't remortgage.

Why remortgaging can save huge sums

For most people, their mortgage is their biggest financial commitment. And it follows that streamlining the largest debt can produce the largest saving - sometimes £1,000s each year. If youíre the kind of person who shops around to get the cheapest television or DVD player, then youíre missing a trick by not using the same skills to save money on your mortgage.

But there are pros and cons to remortgaging. Here we start off with talking about the reasons why you might want to remortgage, but if you want to read about the reasons why you shouldn't, you can jump straight to Why shouldn't I remortgage?

Martin Lewis 5-min remortgage video briefing

But, before you start, it's worth watching Martin's five-minute remortgage briefing, so you know about what you should be looking out for during your remortgage journey...

Originally filmed for the Daily Telegraph, and published on its website in October 2015.

Why should I remortgage?

The main reason that you might want to remortgage is to save money. And this can be big money - as site user Adrian emailed:

"My old fixed-rate mortgage came to an end two years ago and I have been waiting for the right time to set up another fixed rate and your email prompted me to do it just this week. Just saved £569.92 per month by switching from variable to fixed at 2.99% for five years with my existing mortgage lender Santander"

So, remortgaging worked for him - but will it work for you? Here are the reasons you might want to do it.

  • Your current deal is about to end.

    Many of the best mortgages only last a short time Ė often two to five years Ė the typical length of time offered on a fixed rate, tracker or discount mortgage.

    When it comes to an end, your lender will put you on its bog standard variable rate (SVR). Itís likely to be higher than your old interest rate and higher than the best buys available. If so, you want to be ready to remortgage to a cheaper rate. Start looking around 14 weeks before your rate ends.

  • You want a better rate.

    If you are tied into an initial deal then you might have to pay an early repayment charge which can be huge, often 2-5% of your outstanding loan. Plus, there is usually a small exit fee (it might call it an 'admin fee' or a 'deeds release fee') when you repay any mortgage.

    This doesnít mean you shouldnít consider it as the savings can be huge (especially if you have a large amount of mortgage debt). You just need to do your sums before taking the plunge.

  • Your home's value has gone up...a lot.

    If the value of the property has risen rapidly since you took out your mortgage, you may find youíre in a lower loan-to-value band, and therefore eligible for much lower rates. Again, you need to do your sums but itís definitely worth a look.

  • You're worried about interest rates going up.

    Whoa there! Before you panic, you need to check what is meant by rates going up. If itís the Bank of England base rate that is predicted to go up, this may affect your mortgage payments directly, depending on the type of mortgage you have. If itís the rates that new customers are being offered, then this doesnít automatically mean yours will be affected.

  • You want to overpay & your lender won't let you.

    Perhaps youíve had a pay rise or maybe youíve inherited some money. You now want to pay extra but your current deal wonít let you or it will only let you make a small overpayment.

    A remortgage will allow you to reduce the loan size and potentially get a cheaper rate as a result. But watch out for any early repayment charges or exit fees you face, and compare this to how much you'd save with the new, lower mortgage.

  • You want to switch from interest-only to repayment mortgage.

    You shouldn't actually need to remortgage to do this, your lender should be happy to make the change for you.

    You can even change part of the loan to capital repayment and leave some on your interest-only deal, which is particularly useful for anyone with an underperforming endowment mortgage which is expected to result in a shortfall at the end of the term.

    However, it's a totally different story if you want to change from capital repayment to interest only - expect your lender to be difficult if you try to do this.

  • You want to borrow more.

    Perhaps your current lender has said no to lending you extra money or the terms it's offering arenít very good. Remortgaging to a new lender might enable you to raise money cheaply on low rates. But remember to take all the fees into account to see if it really is cheaper than other forms of borrowing.

    The new lender will ask you what the extra money is for. Surprisingly, it is likely to be more comfortable with you borrowing the money for a new car than for business purposes. Not so surprisingly, it wonít want to lend you money to start a new businessÖ.

    The most commonly acceptable reasons to raise money are for home improvements and paying off other debts. Just be prepared for your lender to ask for evidence if you are borrowing a large amount, e.g. builder quotes, or proof that you have paid off the debts.

  • Martin says...

    I always shiver slightly when people talk about adding non-housing debts to their mortgage, whether itís for a new kitchen, a holiday or to consolidate existing borrowing. There are times when this could be a necessary evil, perhaps to get you out of a hole.

    My problem isnít that it is wrong per se, in fact often itís a good move, but the issue is many people see it as a no-brainer solution.

    Let me make something plain. Borrowing £1,000 at 5% over 20 years is more than twice as expensive as 10% over 5 years. Put that way, it suddenly doesnít seem so much of a no-brainer now does it?

  • You want a more flexible mortgage.

    Maybe you want to be able to miss a payment. Changing jobs, going back into education, going travelling Ė whatever the reason, there are mortgages which will let you take payment holidays.

    Or maybe youíve been tempted by different, whizzy mortgages which combine your savings or current accounts with your mortgage.

    Whatever flexibility you want in a mortgage, chances are itís out there. But remember products donít offer these twiddly bits for free. Expect to pay for flexible features with a slightly higher interest rate. So donít be tempted to go for bells and whistles unless you will actually use them.

    If it sounds like remortgaging could be the right move for you, you want to start the search 14 weeks before you want to remortgage.

Find the best buy mortgages

If you're ready to get a mortgage, tell our Mortgage Best Buys tool what you want, and it'll speedily find the top deals for you.

Ready to remortgage?

If you want to change mortgage, this free guide has tips on when you should & shouldnít remortgage and how to grab top deals.

Ready to get a mortgage?

Want to get on that first rung? Our free guide helps you find the cheapest mortgage and boost your chances of getting accepted.

Why shouldn't I remortgage?

  • Your mortgage debt is really small.

    Once your loan falls below a certain amount Ė say around £50,000 Ė it may not be worth switching lender simply because you are less likely to make a saving if the fees are high. In fact, some lenders wonít even take on mortgages below £25,000.

    Do have a look but youíll probably want to look at rates with a small fee, or no fee at all. The smaller your mortgage, the worse the effect of any fees you need to pay. Quite often, youíll be better remaining on the higher interest rate.

  • Your early repayment charge is large.

    A large early repayment charge could mean that itíd be utter foolishness to move before the end of the incentive period. Do your sums to find out Ė use our 'Ditch your fix?í calculator. If it would cost too much to free yourself from your current deal, then itís all the more important that you do your homework, and be ready to move as soon as you can.

    Itís always worth asking your current lender to let you switch to another of its deals (ie, do a product transfer) by paying a reduced early repayment charge. Youíre unlikely to get to move to its top-of-the range deal but as long as itís better than the one youíre currently on, and doesnít lock you in for much longer, you have nothing to lose.

  • Your circumstances have changed.

    Itís possible that your financial position has altered since you took out your current mortgage - for instance, one of you has stopped working or you have become self-employed.

    Stricter mortage rules introduced in April 2014 mean lenders MUST now see evidence of your income. New lenders may not be prepared to offer you a loan because you no longer fit their criteria, meaning you may have to stay where you are.

  • Your home's value has dropped.

    You may have had a 10% deposit when you bought your home and got a decent mortgage, borrowing the remaining 90% of your homeís value. But now, your house price has dropped and the amount you owe is a bigger proportion. Unfortunately, youíre a victim of evaporating equity, even if you have been making repayments, and that can hurt you. In some cases, you may be in negative equity, where your debt is higher than the value of the property.

    The only thing you can do is sit tight, make overpayments whenever you can afford it as long as you wonít be charged fees as well, and wait for prices in your area to go up again.

  • You have very little equity.

    If you need to borrow more than 90% of the value of your property Ė then youíll often find it difficult to find a better rate.

    Although at the time of writing, there are more mortgages at 95% than we have seen for a long time so itís worth checking to see if itís worth switching. Donít forget to check if your current lender charges an early repayment charge to leave.

  • You've had credit problems since taking out your last mortgage.

    Since the credit crunch, lenders have become much more picky about who they lend to. The regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, now also requires them to carefully check the mortgage is affordable, not just at current rates, but at a higher rate too, to ensure you could cope if interest rates were to rise.

    As a result, lenders will want a lot of detail about your outgoings, and are looking for spotless repayment histories or at least a good, clean record of handling debts well.

    It might only take one recently missed payment to your credit card, loan, mortgage, utility company...even your mobile phone to scupper your chances. Check your credit file to be sure.

  • You're already on a great rate.

    You may be already on such a fantastic deal that youíd be mad to move. But donít get too comfortable Ė chances are it wonít always be top of the tree so eventually youíll need to consider hopping onboard the remortgaging merry-go-round.

    Use the Ditch your fix? calculator (even if youíre not on a fixed) to work out roughly what rate youíd need to make it worthwhile remortgaging. Even if you think youíve got the best deal, itís worth doing some checks so you KNOW youíve got the best deal possible.

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