Are interest only mortgages good or bad?

Tuesday, 3rd July, 2018

Interest-only mortgages are a bit like life. They’re not simply all bad or all good, they’re not clear-cut and they’re often right for some people, but not others.

However, from recent reports that suggest that the interest only mortgage is making its comeback, you could be forgiven for thinking that UK homeowners are about to revert to the pre-crash days and readopt the interest-only approach to home ownership.

In fact it wasn’t that long ago that interest only mortgages were commonplace.

It was only the financial crisis of 07/08 that provided what is now seen as a much-needed reset. Up until that point, people were applying for a mortgage on the strength of what they said they could afford as opposed to what they really could afford.

What made this palatable was that house price growth created a safety net as interest-only homeowners were banking on significant equity growth to pay down their mortgage when the time came. However, given the slowdown in property growth over recent years, this is less of a dead cert.

So what’s the difference this time, then?

Well, first of all a little context is needed. Data recently published by Moneyfacts, the financial analyst and comparison site, has revealed that 33 lenders now offer interest only mortgages – up from only 12 offering the product in summer 2013.

However, as stated by a Moneyfacts finance expert in a recent interview with industry title Mortgage Strategy, there were 73 lenders offering interest only mortgages back in June 2008, which reveals we have a long way to go before we reach those levels.

Furthermore, unlike days of old, to apply for an interest only mortgage today you have to have a low loan to value ratio – something that rarely got in the way of a deal pre-crash and certainly before the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review, which resulted in a severe tightening up of the mortgage market after it was put in place.

Yes, interest only mortgages seem to be gaining ground once again – however this type of interest only mortgage seems reserved for those who aren’t banking solely on property growth to pay for their mortgage decades down the line, as you will need to have a repayment strategy in place at the outset that is acceptable to the lender. Evidence also suggests that in addition to a large deposit, those looking to get an interest only mortgage will also need to earn a large salary.

Back to the original question, then: are interest only mortgages good or bad?

As a Guildford mortgage broker that has witnessed the ups and downs of the mortgage market both pre and post-crash, I’ll say that it completely depends on the individual’s circumstances. And for that reason, we would always advise that anyone thinking of applying for a mortgage – of any kind – appoints the best mortgage brokerage they can to help guide them through that process and provide that peace of mind.

If you’re considering applying for an interest only mortgage contact a member of the Complete Mortgages team on 01483 238280 or email info@complete-mortgages.co.uk. Remember, we also specialise in buy to let mortgages, commercial mortgages, adverse credit mortgages and limited company buy to let mortgages, too.

By Mark Finnegan, Director at Complete Mortgages