What Is a Fixed Rate Mortgage?
A fixed rate mortgage is a mortgage where the interest rate you’re charged is fixed to a certain date or for a certain number of years - e.g. 4.5% interest for 5 years.
A fixed term is different from the overall mortgage term. The overall mortgage term is the total amount of time over which you pay back the mortgage. So for example, you’d take out a 25 year mortgage with a fixed rate of 4.5% for the first 5 years.
You’ll then go onto the lender’s SVR (standard variable rate) when you reach the end of your fixed rate period, unless you choose to remortgage or take a new product with your current lender.
Fixed Rate Mortgage Pros and Cons
Before deciding whether to get a fixed rate or variable rate mortgage, it’s important to look at the benefits and disadvantages of fixed rate mortgages.
Fixed Rate Pros
You Know What You’ll Pay Each Month
One of the factors that makes fixed rates so popular is that you know exactly how much your mortgage payment is going to be. As the interest rate stays the same, you’ll be paying the same amount each month until the fixed rate ends.
It Makes It Easier to Budget
Knowing what you’re going to pay each month makes budgeting easier. You’ll be able to divide up your finances more clearly which can make sticking to a savings plan a lot simpler and more straightforward.
Peace of Mind Around Rate Increases
There’s always news around higher mortgage rates and what this means for borrowers. With a fixed rate deal, you’re protected against any increases in the Base Rate for a set period of time, so you’ll know what the next few years look like for your mortgage.
Fixed Rate Cons
Fixed Rates Are Often Higher
Due to the security offered by fixed rates, they often come with higher introductory deals than variable rate mortgages. While this protects you against any Base Rate increases, it also means you won’t benefit from any decreases.
ERCs Are Expensive
If interest rates decrease and you want to move or switch to a new product before your fixed period ends, you’ll face hefty ERCs which can make switching less than worthwhile. Always choose a fix that aligns with future, as well as current, plans.
You’re Locked In
If rates decrease while you’re on a fixed rate deal, you won’t benefit from any of the potential savings like you would on a tracker or discount rate.
Compare Fixed Rate Mortgage Deals
You can compare fixed rate mortgage deals currently on the market with our free best buys tool below.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Fixed Rate
Choose the Fixed Period You Need
When you apply for a fixed rate mortgage, you can look at different period lengths. For example, a 2 year fixed rate might suit you better if you think you’ll want to look at other mortgage deals in the medium term, while a 5 year fixed rate might be better if you want the security of predictable payments for longer. It’s also important to consider how the market might change over the course of your fixed rate. If you think that interest rates are likely to increase, you might want to request a longer fixed rate. Fixed rate mortgage offers even stretch up to 10 years or beyond in some cases.
Making overpayments can be beneficial if you want to pay off your mortgage sooner. This brings down the capital borrowed quicker and means that you can save on the total amount of interest you pay. If you choose a fixed rate mortgage, you’ll usually be able to make overpayments up to a total of 10% of your mortgage balance annually. If you want to overpay more than this per year, you’ll usually face a fee. You can often make larger overpayments without a fee when you’re on your lender’s SVR (standard variable rate), but you can discuss this with your broker if you’re planning to make larger overpayments.
See if You Can Port Your Mortgage
If you want to move to a new property during your fixed rate period, you may be able to port your mortgage. Porting is where you transfer the mortgage deal to the new property. While this is technically a new mortgage and involves new credit checks and income checks, it will allow you to keep your fixed interest rate. If you think you’ll want to be able to port your mortgage in the future, speak to your broker and they’ll direct you towards a lender that will be able to do this.
What's the Difference Between Fixed Rate and Tracker Rate Mortgages?
The 2 main mortgage interest types you’ll encounter are the fixed rate and the tracker. For a rundown of the differences, read on.
The Fixed Rate Mortgage
A fixed rate mortgage means that the interest rate charged doesn’t change. Some features include:
- You know exactly what your payment will be every month
- They’re generally easier to budget for
- They don’t increase or fall when the Base Rate changes
- They may have ERCs (early repayment charges) if you want to pay off your mortgage early or remortgage
The Tracker Mortgage
Tracker mortgages change in relation to the Bank of England’s Base Rate. You’ll usually be charged the Base Rate plus a certain percentage, which can mean:
- Lower payments when the base rate is low
- Higher payments when the base right increases
- Usually no ERCs, so you can potentially remortgage earlier
- May be more challenging when it comes budgeting
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HOW LONG DOES A FIXED RATE LAST?
Residential mortgages typically have fixed terms that last between 1 and 10 years.
|1 Year Fixed||The shortest fixed term available is 1 year. 1 year fixed rates are extremely rare and only available from specialist lenders. They’re usually based on very specific needs, therefore they typically come with more expensive rates than other fixed rate products.|
|2 Year Fixed||2 year fixed rates are very popular and there are many on the market. They offer stability for people with no immediate plans to move home. Their high level of availability means that they’re typically among the lowest fixed rate mortgage products. Compare rates using our tool above.|
|3 Year Fixed||Most 3 year fixed rates are needs based. They’re suitable if you want to stay in your property now – and therefore want stability - but don't want to be tied in for as long as 5 years and may be thinking about moving in the future. They're offered by fewer lenders than 2 or 5 year fixed products, which can be reflected by a higher rate.|
|5 Year Fixed||5 year fixed mortgage rates, like 2 year fixes, are common and popular among borrowers. You may want a 5 year fix if you intend on staying in your property for the medium to long term, but are open to/expect your situation to change later on. It provides stability without asking you to think too far in advance. Use our best buys tool above to compare the best 5 year fixed rate mortgage deals currently on the market.|
|10 Year Fixed||Typically, the longest fixed term you could get on the high street is 10 years. A 10 year fix is suitable if you plan on staying in your home for the foreseeable future and/or would like to budget for the long term with a set monthly payment. To compare the best 10 year fixed rate mortgage products on the market, select the "more than 5 years" option under Initial Rate Period on our best buys above.|
|Longer than 10 Years||Sometimes lenders will offer fixed rates for more than 10 years – but this is very rare. Talk to one of our expert brokers if this is something you require.|
What Happens When My Fixed Rate Mortgage Ends?
After your fixed rate ends, you’ll be transferred onto your lender’s SVR (standard variable rate) for the remainder of the mortgage term. A lender’s SVR will normally be significantly higher than whatever introductory deal you were on – which is why many people choose to remortgage or take a new deal with their existing lender as they come to the end of the fixed period. The SVR can also fluctuate, meaning that your payments will no longer be the same every month.
If you want to avoid this, you can look at a product transfer or remortgaging. Some lenders might let you take advantage of one of their new fixed rate mortgage offers via a product transfer, or you could look to remortgage onto a fixed mortgage rate with a new lender. You could also look at other introductory offers such as discount mortgages, where the interest rate will be a set percentage below the lender’s SVR. Taking out a product transfer or remortgaging can help you save money compared to sticking with your lender’s SVR.
You can start to arrange a remortgage up to 6 months before the end of your introductory rate. So, for a 2 year fixed mortgage, you can look at remortgage options after 18 months. Remortgaging can take a while, so it’s best to get started 7 months before your fixed rate is due to expire.
How Can John Charcol Help?
We Handle Everything
We can assist with every step of the process, from submitting your first fixed rate mortgage application to putting a deal in place and even arranging removals.
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Our award-winning brokers can help you find the ideal fixed rate mortgage for your situation. Look at our 1800+ 5* reviews and you’ll know you’re in good hands.
Get Personal Advice On Fixed Rates
No matter how complex your income or credit situation may be, our expert mortgage advisers can help. We can also work around your schedule.
Expert tip - Nick Mendes, John Charcol - May 2023
When it comes to fixed rate mortgages, it's really important that you’re not just driven by the current rate because we've seen how quickly things could change in the space of 2 years. We’re expecting rates to drop, but we don’t expect budget rates to race back to historic lows and the new norm could be around 3% or 4%. So 2 year fixed rates are becoming more popular and it’s important people look around for the best deals.
Process for Purchase/Remortgage
1. Meeting with Advisers and Mortgage Research
When you phone us, you can either arrange a phone appointment with your adviser or a face-to-face meeting – whatever suits you. Your adviser will ask you some questions and, once they have all the information they need, they’ll go away and find the best mortgage for your circumstances and needs. They’ll also arrange a follow up call to present you with what they’ve found. It may require more than one conversation to gather all the right information, depending on where you are in your property search.
2. Decision in Principle
Once you’re happy with their recommendation for a fixed rate mortgage offer, they’ll go about securing your DIP (Decision in Principle) - which is basically a promise from the lender that they’ll loan you money on the condition that the information you’ve provided is correct and subject to a valuation of the property.
3. Offer on Property/Proceed with Remortgaging
After you’ve secured a DIP (Decision in Principle), you’ll be in a great position to make an offer on a property or move forward with remortgaging.
4. Pre-Application and Submission
Following the acceptance of your offer on a property or the decision to move forward with remortgaging, we’ll send you some information which explains all the documents we need to submit to the lender. You’ll be assigned a client relationship manager who’ll check and submit certified copies of your documents; they’ll liaise with both you and the lender. Your adviser will then submit the fully packaged mortgage application.
5. Lender Underwriting and Valuation
The lender will underwrite your application; this basically means they’ll verify the information you’ve provided and review all your documents for themselves. They’ll also instruct a valuation for their purposes on the property to make sure there are no significant problems with it.
6. Mortgage Offer
If the lender is happy with everything they’ve found, they’ll send you a mortgage offer. They’ll also send us a copy.
After you’ve accepted your mortgage offer, you’ll go through the legal part of the process, known as conveyancing. This is where the solicitors/conveyancers draw up contracts and organise the actual, legal purchase of the property or the remortgaging process. If you’re purchasing, you’ll also need to arrange buildings insurance at this stage, making sure it’s in place from exchange.
8. Exchange and Completion
If you’re buying a property, your conveyancer/solicitor will exchange contracts with the seller’s conveyancer/solicitor; it’s at this point that you would put down your deposit and be legally bound to the property. The purchase will complete when the money is transferred on an agreed-upon date.
If you’re remortgaging, then there’ll be no exchange of contracts, nonetheless legal work will be required as you’re switching lenders. Your conveyancer/solicitor will instead set a date to draw down the funds and pay off your existing lender(s) once the mortgage offer’s released.
Fixed Rate FAQs
Is a Fixed Rate Better than a Variable Rate?
Fixed rate mortgage offers have certain benefits that variable rates don’t.
Some benefits with fixed rates include:
- You always know how much interest you’ll pay
- You can budget according to how much interest you’ll pay
- They’re stable
On the other hand, variable rates like discount or tracker rates may offer benefits that fixed rates don’t.
Some benefits with variable rates include:
- If the rate falls, you could end up paying less interest and benefitting from a lower monthly payment
- They tend to offer more flexibility regarding ERCs than fixed rates which means you’re not as tied in should you want to switch deals
Find more information on the different mortgage options in our mortgage types guide.
Can I Get Out of a Fixed Rate?
It is possible to get out of a fixed rate by remortgaging onto a new product or repaying your mortgage, but remortgaging before the fixed period/introductory deal ends may result in you facing ERCs. These can often make leaving your current mortgage product before the fixed term ends expensive.
Can I Remortgage During a Fixed Term?
It is possible to remortgage during your fixed term or introductory deal however you’ll likely face ERCs, which can make remortgaging more money than it’s worth. If you think you might want to remortgage soon after you take out your mortgage, you could look at a 1 or 2 year fixed rate mortgage instead of a longer term.
Can I Remortgage onto a Fixed Rate?
Many people will remortgage onto a new fixed rate as their current introductory deal is about to end to avoid being transferred onto their lender’s SVR. Check out the different remortgage deals available with our best buys tool. You can also work out how much you could potentially save by remortgaging onto a new rate with our mortgage comparison calculator.
What’s the Best Fixed Rate Mortgage Deal?
There’s no single best fixed rate mortgage deal. What’s best for you will depend on your circumstances. For example, do you intend on staying in the same property for the foreseeable future or do you intend on moving after a couple of years? Asking these kinds of questions and discussing them with your adviser will help them figure out whether a shorter or longer term fix will work for you. There’s also an option to offset your savings against your mortgage, so that you pay less interest. Speak to one of our advisers on 0330 433 2927 as they’ll tell you which product would best suit you.
Moving Home Guide
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or this is the first time you’re selling your home, our guide will take you through the journey.
Remortgaging means to switch to a new deal with a different lender but stay in the same property. Learn about remortgage costs, valuations and see our advice.
Types of Houses
There are a few common types of houses in the UK. This guide explains how they’re different, as well as how they can affect your mortgage and insurance needs.
Applying for a Mortgage
Applying for a mortgage couldn’t be simpler with our easy and simple guide from application to accepting your offer.
On this page you’ll find our detailed mortgage terminology glossary. There’s a lot of jargon out there but we’re here to make it easy.
House Buying Mortgage Guide
Are you looking to buy your first home? Or perhaps want to move to a new area? Our step-by-step guide will tell you everything you need to know about buying a house.
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Borrowing into Retirement
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Property Finance for Expats
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Launch of Nationwide's New 25 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage