Mortgage Rates Comparison Sites – Do They Give You the Whole Story?

If you are contemplating your first mortgage as a first time buyer, or a remortgage of your existing loan, you would probably think that researching the best mortgage rates would be as simple as going to the nearest price comparison site, answering a few straightforward questions and applying a few filters to suit your mortgage rate requirements.

Now for price comparison sites that make millions from online financial arrangements, that view is one that they try to foster, indeed actively promote. Why wouldn’t they? It makes them millions. Giving advice requires expertise, time effort, adherence to strict Financial Services Association rules, and above all a desire to really make sure the most appropriate advice is provided, even if the advice means no income is generated for the adviser.

Oh, but that doesn’t make money. Far easier to place the decision with the client, and allow them to make the decision. Now I’m all for people power, and people taking responsibility for their own actions, but does it make sense for the largest financial commitment most of us ever consider to come without even the smallest amount of mortgage advice.

Having spent more than ten years providing mortgage advice online talking to people from all walks of life, I am of the firm believe that advice should be made compulsory. All too often I have seen the consequences of an ill considered decision causing problems later on. Mortgage rates believed to be fixed only to turn out to be a discounted rate, where the mortgagee misunderstood that the discount rate was fixed, not the actual pay rate. Those with extended redemption penalties that they had just not realized were present because they hadn’t read the documentation correctly. They were only really concerned about the monthly payment.

Well if you are considering a mortgage, and what mortgage rates will be suitable, my advice would be that you talk to an Independent Financial Adviser. Fee or no fee, seeking advice will always save you money in the long run.

For those that don’t feel professional advice is for them, perhaps just consider the following points when mulling over which mortgage rates are best for you.

Attitude

Do you have a real understanding of the differences between the different types of mortgage rates? Has media hype, adverse publicity or the advice of friends lead you to discount a particular type of mortgage that may be suitable for your needs.

Changes in Circumstances

Do you know what you will be doing in two, three, five or more year’s time? Do you plan to start a family? Is there any expectation that your income may go down? Do you expect a promotion, relocation, and if you did, would you retain the property and let it out lender permitting, or sell it? Might you move abroad, and would that impact on the mortgage repayment type considered?

Early Repayment Charges

Does the mortgage have one, and if so is it just during any product period such a three year fixed rate, or does the penalty extend beyond the benefit period leaving you with the prospect of paying the generally higher lender standard variable rate, or the payment of a penalty which is often equivalent to six months interest?

Can the mortgage be transferred to a new property without incurring the redemption penalty?

Portability

Whilst most mortgage rates are portable to a new property some are not. For those that are you should be aware that portability is not a ‘Right’, but rather just a feature of the mortgage product. To transfer a mortgage to a new property you will still need to meet the lenders underwriting criteria again, and the property will still have to be a suitable security. Also consider the repayment method you select. If you expect to move frequently, is a repayment mortgage advisable? Or would you be better of with an interest only loan and a savings plan that is independent of the mortgage?

Overall APR / Cost for Comparison

Which mortgage is the cheapest, and how do you assess it? Is the cheapest mortgage the best mortgage, after you take all the other factors into consideration? Total cost comparison is a good place to start however. Beware though, as this is the one calculation that many online mortgage sourcing systems do not provide. Comparing the total cost over a given period which includes all the relevant fees and charges will provide a list of products in total cost order. Whether the one at the top is the most appropriate mortgage is a different question.

Affordability

The monthly payment is always a major consideration. Typically a two year discount or tracker mortgage rate will provide the lowest overall cost over that period. Fixed rate security often comes at a premium. Would it be cheaper if interest rates were to rise? How much could they rise before the fixed rate mortgage becomes a better option? And more importantly if they were to rise at what point would the loan become unaffordable?

Flexibility

Does the mortgage allow for overpayments or underpayments where an overpayment has been made? Will it allow for the offset of mortgage interest against a linked savings account? Can you switch from repayment to interest only in the event of financial difficulty? Can you select if overpayments will reduce the term or the monthly payment?

The above are just a few considerations, and can often leave you more confused than before you started, and this is often when the lowest monthly payment becomes the main factor for mortgage rates selection.

The reality is that most mortgage rates are unable to satisfy all your needs, and seeking advice ensures you know which mortgage rate is the most appropriate for your needs having considered all the important factors.