Most important things first-time buyers need to consider when getting a mortgage
Buying a house for the first time is exciting – but there’s a lot to consider.
If you can get your head around the options available to you, manage to save for a deposit and choose a property, you need to apply for a mortgage.
But when it comes to getting a mortgage, you need to think about what’s right for you as you’re going to be paying it for a long time.
Do you know the difference between a fixed and variable mortgage and what even is a good rate?
These are the most important things to consider when looking for a mortgage deal
The real cost
If you are approaching getting a mortgage for the first time, it’s a good idea to get a broker. Some of them will charge an up front free while others will be free for the person getting the mortgage so establish how they work before you decide on one.
They can access a range of deals and some that won’t be available if you go direct to the bank, plus they can talk you through each offer and explain the real cost.
Alex Winn, a mortgage broker at Habito, explains: ‘Don’t be drawn in by a low rate – Best buy tables can seem straightforward, but it’s hard to compare deals when they come with lots of additional fees or perks.’
Mick Silver, CEO and Founder of Moovshack, adds: ‘Most lenders offer specialised first-time buyer products that usually come with a discounted rate and a lower percentage deposit option compared with standard mortgages. But remember, whichever deal is on offer, it will have a time-limited element to it, so make sure you understand the true cost once the initial offer period has expired.
‘The best way to compare all options is to look at the individual APR’s that mortgage companies declare for them. This stands for ‘Annual Percentage Rate’ of interest and basically takes all factors into account to help you compare one mortgage offer with another.’
If you’ve been looking at buying a house post lockdown, you might have head that mortgages for those with a 5% or 10% deposit are being withdrawn, so when you are considering which deal to choose, you need to look at what is realistically available to you with the savings you have.
Alex from Habito adds: ‘Mortgages exist for all levels of deposit – from 5% all the way to 40% +. But recently it’s been harder to get borrowing with smaller deposits due to the COVID pandemic.
‘It’s important to check because, without the required deposit and proving where it’s come from, you won’t be eligible for that deal. Mortgages also have other required criteria, from employment type to income level. You’ll need to pass these checks for getting approval as well.’
Fixed or Variable rate?
There are two main categories for mortgages – fixed-rate or variable. Each one has pros and cons and one type might work better for you.
‘For a fixed-deal, the interest you pay on your loan is ‘fixed’ – guaranteed to stay the same – for a period of time,’ Alex from Habito explains.
‘Variable rates usually follower a particular interest rate – like the Bank of England base rate, and add a certain amount on top – but it means they can rise and fall.
‘Most people like the certainty of a fixed-rate, but you have the choice so read up and see what suits your needs best.’
Although you might be thinking about what you can repay right now, it is important to consider that you will be paying back your mortgage for decades so you want some flexibility.
That may be flexibility to pay it off faster if you can, or just allow you to have a plan if your circumstances change.
Alex adds: ‘Most banks let you overpay on your mortgage by up to 10% a year without being hit by an early repayment charge. The biggest savings to be made in the world of home financing comes from being mortgage-free quicker.
‘Check the small print to make sure your deal allows this and you could wipe years and tens of thousands of pounds off your total repayment bill.’
But Mick from Moovshack also warns: ‘It’s vital that in this current unpredictable environment, you get a mortgage that will allow you to be flexible in the event that working circumstances, as well as your wants and needs, change. ‘
Mick recommends also thinking about mortgage protection insurance when buying a house.
He says: ‘There are various options available to cover you for loss of earnings, critical illness and even full mortgage payment protection in case you lose your job.’
Terms and conditions
Finally, Alex reminds first-time buyers to carefully look at the terms of the mortgage contract before they commit.
He says: ‘The lender has a charge on the property should you not keep up your repayments, which means they want to keep it in a sell-able condition. Sometimes this means they have rules around how they’d like the property kept.
‘They could also have a rule around if you could temporarily let-it or part of it, for example, listing a spare room on AirB&B if you go away. It’s worth checking so that you’re never in breach of your mortgage contract.’
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