Thinking About Remortgaging? Here's What You Need To Know

Written by Fraser Stewart
Reading time 4 minutes
Thinking About Remortgaging? Here's What You Need To Know image

For many homeowners, the idea of remortgaging can seem daunting. Whether it's the allure of a better interest rate, the need to release equity, or simply a change in personal circumstances, remortgaging offers various benefits. This guide aims to demystify the process, providing you with the essential knowledge to make an informed decision about whether remortgaging is right for you.

What is Remortgaging?

Remortgaging involves switching your current mortgage to a new deal, either with your existing lender or a different one. It's essentially the process of paying off your existing mortgage with a new one. This can be done for various reasons, but the primary goal is often to save money. It's worth noting that remortgaging is different from taking out a second mortgage, where you borrow money secured against the equity in your home.

Key Terminology

Remortgaging The process of switching your existing mortgage to a new deal, either with your current lender or a different one.
Equity The difference between the value of your property and the amount of mortgage you owe. If your home is worth £250,000 and you owe £150,000, your equity is £100,000.
Early Repayment Charge (ERC) A fee you might have to pay if you repay your mortgage (or overpay more than the allowed amount) during a specified period.
Exit Fee A charge by your current lender when you move to a different mortgage or lender.
Valuation Fee A fee charged by a lender to assess the value of your property.
Booking/Arrangement Fee A charge by the new lender for setting up the mortgage.
Negative Equity When the value of your property is less than the amount you owe on your mortgage.
Second Charge Mortgage A loan secured on a property on which there's already a mortgage.
Fixed-Rate Mortgage A mortgage where the interest rate remains the same for a set period.
Variable Rate Mortgage A mortgage where the interest rate can change, usually in line with the Bank of England's base rate or the lender's standard variable rate.
Overpayment Paying more than the required monthly mortgage repayment, reducing the overall amount owed.
Mortgage Payment Holiday An agreed break from making mortgage payments for a short period

Reasons to Remortgage

There are several compelling reasons why homeowners might consider remortgaging:

  1. Securing a Better Interest Rate: One of the most common reasons for remortgaging is to take advantage of a more competitive interest rate, potentially saving thousands over the mortgage term.
  2. Releasing Equity: As your property's value increases, you might want to release some of this equity, perhaps for home improvements, a significant purchase, or to invest elsewhere.
  3. Consolidating Debts: If you have other debts, like credit cards or personal loans, remortgaging can allow you to consolidate these into a single, more manageable monthly payment.
  4. Changing Mortgage Types: Your needs and preferences might change over time. For instance, you might want to switch from a variable rate mortgage, where interest rates can fluctuate, to a fixed-rate mortgage, offering more predictable monthly payments.

The Remortgaging Process

Navigating the remortgaging process can be smoother with an understanding of the steps involved:

1 Research Start by assessing your current mortgage deal. Understand any penalties for leaving early and determine the potential benefits of a new mortgage deal.
2 Seek Advice Consider consulting with a mortgage advisor or broker. They can provide insights into the best deals available based on your circumstances.
3 Application Once you've chosen a new mortgage deal, you'll need to go through the application process, much like you did with your initial mortgage. This will involve credit checks and potentially property valuation.
4 Legal Work A solicitor or conveyancer will handle the legal aspects of the remortgage, ensuring the transition from one lender to another is seamless.
5 Completion Once everything is approved, and the legal work is complete, your new mortgage will pay off your old one. You'll then start making payments based on the terms of your new mortgage deal.

Costs and Fees

Remortgaging can offer financial benefits, but it's also essential to be aware of potential costs:

  1. Early Repayment Charges: If you leave your current mortgage deal before its term ends, you might face an early repayment charge. This can be a percentage of the outstanding loan and can amount to a significant sum.
  2. Exit Fees: Your current lender might charge an exit fee (or an administration fee) when you repay your mortgage.
  3. Valuation Fees: Your new lender may want to value your property to determine how much they're willing to lend you. There might be a fee associated with this valuation.
  4. Legal Fees: The legal process of remortgaging requires a solicitor or conveyancer, and they'll charge for their services. Some mortgage deals might offer free legal services as part of the package.
  5. Booking and Arrangement Fees: Some new mortgage deals come with booking or arrangement fees. These can either be paid upfront or added to your mortgage, but if added to the mortgage, you'll pay interest on them.

Benefits and Risks

Remortgaging comes with its set of advantages and potential pitfalls:

Benefits

  1. Lower Monthly Payments: By securing a better interest rate, you can reduce your monthly mortgage payments.
  2. Flexibility: Remortgaging can offer more flexible terms, such as overpayments without penalties or payment holidays.
  3. Consolidating Debts: By merging other debts into your mortgage, you might benefit from a lower interest rate compared to other forms of borrowing.

Risks

  1. Higher Overall Cost: Extending the term of your mortgage or consolidating short-term debts can lead to paying more in the long run.
  2. Fees and Penalties: As mentioned, the costs of remortgaging can sometimes outweigh the benefits, especially if there are hefty early repayment charges.
  3. Potential for Negative Equity: If property prices fall and you owe more than your home's worth, you might find it challenging to secure a good remortgaging deal.

Factors to Consider Before Remortgaging

Before making the decision to remortgage, consider the following:

  1. Current Mortgage Details: Understand the terms of your existing mortgage, especially any fees or penalties for changing before the term ends.
  2. Interest Rate Environment: Are interest rates currently rising or falling? This can influence the potential benefits of remortgaging.
  3. Your Property's Value: If your property has significantly increased in value, you might access better mortgage deals.
  4. Credit Score: A good credit score can open the door to the best mortgage rates. Ensure you check your credit report for any errors or areas of improvement.

Alternatives to Remortgaging

Remortgaging isn't the only option available:

  1. Overpaying on Your Current Mortgage: If your current mortgage allows overpayments without penalties, this can be a way to reduce the outstanding balance and save on interest.
  2. Second Charge Mortgage: Instead of remortgaging, you might consider a second charge mortgage, which is a loan secured against the equity in your home.
  3. Mortgage Payment Holidays: Some lenders offer the option to take a break from payments, which can provide temporary financial relief.

Conclusion

Remortgaging can be a beneficial financial move, but it's essential to approach it with a full understanding of the potential benefits, risks, and costs. By carefully evaluating your current situation, researching available options, and possibly seeking expert advice, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your financial goals.

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