Mortgage term: most people opt for a 25-year term when they take their first mortgage out – but you can choose a longer or shorter period of time. If you opt for a longer term, your repayments will be lower but it will take you longer to pay off the debt. The shorter the term, the sooner you’ll be mortgage free. So the shortest term with the most affordable fee is often a better option.
Deal length: given that most mortgage products have an early repayment charge (ERC) if you end the mortgage deal early, it’s important to think about how long you’re happy to tie yourself in for. For example, if you think you might move in the next few years, you’d be better off going for a two or three year product rather than locking into a five year product. It can cost thousands of pounds to get out of a mortgage early as the penalty is usually a percentage of the outstanding mortgage. So if your mortgage if £100,000 and the ERC is 2%, you’ll have to pay £2,000.
Repayment or interest-only: you can take your mortgage out on a repayment basis or interest-only.
With a repayment mortgage your monthly payments are calculated so you’re paying some of the capital off as well as the interest and will have repaid the entire loan by the end of the term.
Monthly payments on an interest-only mortgage, on the other hand, just cover the interest – which means you’ll have the original loan to pay in full at the end of the term. The idea is that you have a repayment plan in place, such as ISA investments, so you’ve built up the lump sum you need by the time your mortgage ends.
However, interest-only mortgages are getting harder to come by because lenders are concerned about the risk of too many people taking out interest-only mortgages with no repayment plan in place – which means that lenders that do offer this mortgage type may only offer them to people with very large deposits.