Interest rates: What's the advice if my fixed-rate mortgage is ending and can an offer be withdrawn?

There is upheaval in the mortgage market due to the current economic uncertainty. Credit: PA Images

With markets predicting massive rises in interest rates this year and next, there are concerns for what this could mean for mortgages and the housing market more widely.

The Bank of England has said it "will not hesitate" to change interest rates in order to get inflation under control after the chancellor's tax-slashing mini-budget sparked turmoil.

Government ministers have stood by the proposals outlined in the mini-budget, despite the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announcing it is “closely monitoring” developments and urging Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng to “re-evaluate the tax measures”.

Here's what we know so far about the potential impact on mortgages and housing - and what action you can take.

How have mortgage providers responded to the market volatility?

A number of mortgage providers have temporarily withdrawn some of their products due to the current conditions.

Meanwhile, analysis by Moneyfacts.co.uk shows that hundreds of mortgage deals have disappeared from the market in recent days.

However, the overall number of mortgage deals remains significantly higher than at points in 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic also caused economic uncertainty.

During the pandemic, low-deposit mortgage deals - often used by first-time buyers - were at risk of being pulled as lenders were concerned about "riskier" lending.

But this time around, the mortgage withdrawals appear to be more evenly spread across different loan-to-value (LTV) brackets, according to analysis.

It is likely that more lenders will withdraw or make changes to their products in the coming days.

Around 1.8 million fixed deals are scheduled to end next year. Credit: PA Images

What are your options if your fixed-rate mortgage is coming to an end?

In the UK, the majority of mortgage holders are on fixed-rate deals, usually with a term of either two or five years.

Around 1.8 million fixed deals are scheduled to end next year, meaning homeowners could be in for a shock when they come to take out a new mortgage.

Sarah Coles, a senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "Within the mortgage market, more than three-quarters of people are protected by fixed-rate deals.

"However, for anyone whose deal is expiring or on a variable rate, higher rates will add significantly to their monthly costs."

Markets have started predicting a 6% rise in interest rates - up from expectations of an eventual increase to 5% - and the Resolution Foundation think tank said this could have a "huge impact" on mortgages.

The Foundation calculated that for a homeowner with a £140,000 mortgage and 17 years left to run on it, upping interest rates to 5% could mean monthly payments rising by around £190.

Rates of 6% would push this typical mortgage payment up by around a further £80 a month - or roughly £1,000 a year, the Foundation said.

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If your fixed-rate mortgage is coming to an end, experts suggest discussing your options with your existing lender whilst also seeking independent advice from a financial advisor.

Rachel Springall, a finance expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk, said: "The upheaval in the mortgage market may cause frustration amongst both borrowers and brokers as they see deals disappear overnight.

"The market remains considerably volatile so it’s vital consumers seek independent advice to assess what their best options are right now."

Mortgage broker Tayo Oguntonade said those whose fixed-term rate is coming to an end in the next six months should take action now.

There has been a spate of recent Bank of England base rate hikes - and more could follow. Credit: PA Images

Mr Oguntonade told ITV News: "One thing that a lot of people don't know - and a lot of people will be in this situation - you're currently in a fixed-term right now, and you know that interest rates are going up. Now, you can shop around for a new rate up to six months before your rate expires.

"If your rate expires, let's say, in February, you can start looking for products right now - and you can lock in today's rate.

"So let's just say that you locked in today at 4.24% - you could activate that rate in February. And the rates in February might be much higher than that 4.24%, but you've actually locked in the rate today."

He added: "If you lock in a rate today, you're not bound by it - so you don't have to take it. So if, for example, rates are better in February, you can go for the rates that are better in February. But it's all about taking action as early as possible."

UK Finance said lenders should be in touch with customers towards the end of their fixed term to discuss their options.

Some households may consider overpaying on their mortgage, or using savings to pay down their mortgage - but this decision should be weighed up carefully, with advice sought if necessary.

Organisations such as Citizens Advice can also offer support to people who are worried about their financial situation.

Hundreds of mortgage deals have vanished from the market in recent days. Credit: PA Images

What about people on a tracker or variable rate mortgage?

Those not on a fixed-rate mortgage deal have already been hit by a string of Bank of England base rate increases in recent months.

A tracker mortgage is now about £210 per month more expensive on average than it was before the rate increases started last December.

A standard variable rate (SVR) mortgage is now about £132 more expensive per month, according to the figures from UK Finance.

Mr Oguntonade said that it would be a mistake to "bury your head in the sand" over rising rates, and advised people to take action "right now".

He said: "We've seen interest rates increase rapidly, and people's monthly payments - if they're on a variable rate or a tracker rate - are changing every single month. The Bank of England has come out and said that they are not afraid of increasing the interest rates to curb inflation, so we already know it's headed in one direction.

"It's very easy to bury your head in the sand when you see something that's quite fearful, and something as big as a mortgage - such a large debt - it can be quite intimidating.

"But actually, the worst thing you can do is bury your head in the sand. People have to take action right now - if you're on a variable mortgage or a tracker mortgage - and speak to a financial advisor and look at fixing that in.

"I know the rates aren't the best right now, but everything that's been reported is indicating they're just going to go upwards."

  • Mortgage broker's tips for homeowners on a variable or fixed-term rate

Customers can also check which fixed-rate deals are available with their existing lender, though experts recommend seeking independent advice too.

Mr Oguntonade added: "Everybody's lending situation is different and some lenders may favour you better than others.

"So it's always good to look at a financial advisor, and they'll pick the product that's best for you."

Can an existing mortgage offer be withdrawn?

David Hollingworth, associate director communications at broker L&C Mortgages, said those who have already agreed a deal with their lender do not need to worry.

Although the situation is fast-moving, some lenders have moved to reassure existing customers that their applications will not be affected.

Virgin Money said: "Existing applications already submitted will be processed as normal and we'll continue to offer our product transfer range for existing customers."

The Skipton Building Society said: "Customers with applications in progress are not affected by this and our existing customer range still remains available."

The advice is to check directly with your lender if you have any concerns about your mortgage or application.

Mortgage rates are expected to have a dampening effect on the housing market, experts say. Credit: PA Images

What does the uncertainty mean for the housing market, and how long could it last?

Although stamp duty was among the taxes to be cut in the mini-budget, rising house prices and mortgage rates are still expected to have a dampening effect on the housing market, according to analysts.

Figures released by Rightmove on Monday showed the average price tag on a home has increased by £2,587 - or 0.7% month-on-month in September.

Mortgage spending in August was 8% higher than in August 2021, according to figures from Nationwide.

Spending on rent was up by 17% annually in August, Nationwide said, as the rental sector also deals with the impacts of rising costs.

ITV's political editor Robert Peston said higher mortgage rates "will have a big negative effect on the volume of housing market transactions and the value of houses, which in turn will have a significant negative impact on the economy and our general prosperity."

The economic uncertainty - including a fall in the value of the pound - could mean mean higher prices for Britons over the coming months and years.

With the recent mortgage withdrawals, it is anticipated that lenders will return with new offers "once the dust settles" - albeit potentially with higher rates.

Mr Hollingworth, for L&C Mortgages, said that while it is not unusual for lenders to withdraw deals, what has happened in recent days has been "incredibly fast-paced".

Lenders may want to rethink or reprice, as swap rates - which they use to price their mortgages - have increased.

Providers will also have an eye on what others in the market are doing and will want to price in a way which protects their own service levels, he added.

Mr Hollingworth said he expects them to "relaunch once the dust settles" – which could generally be at higher rates than previously.

He added: "The more it [withdrawing deals] happens, the more you reduce the choice for borrowers, but I don’t think it will be too long before you see lenders coming back."