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Antony Antoniou – Luxury Property Expert

The Fluctuating UK Mortgage Landscape – Rates Soar and Borrower Stress Surges

The Fluctuating UK Mortgage Landscape – Rates Soar and Borrower Stress Surges


In a surprising turn of events for UK property buyers, the average two-year fixed mortgage rate has surged to 6.01%, reaching its highest level since December 2022. This striking data originates from the primary borrowing statistics of the housing market, sourced from the highly regarded Money Facts. The previous Friday had seen the rate resting at 5.98%. Coincidentally, the five-year mortgage rate has also experienced an increase, rising from 5.62% to 5.67%.

The repercussions of this upward trend are immediate: a noticeable reduction in the availability of Home Mortgage offers. In just a matter of days, the available offers decreased from 4,923 to a mere 4,683, painting a vivid picture of the evolving mortgage landscape. Recent times have witnessed a substantial surge in mortgage rates across the United Kingdom, a precursor to the anticipated interest rate hike projected by the Bank of England later this week. Furthermore, the Federal Reserve (FED) is expected to raise borrowing costs for the thirteenth consecutive time, illustrating its commitment to combatting surging inflation.

However, the current scenario carries implications beyond mere numbers and percentages. A stark reality emerges for over a quarter of UK homeowners with fixed-rate mortgages. These individuals are likely to encounter a drastic increase in their monthly payments once their current terms expire. Disturbingly, the Bank of England predicts that a staggering 1.3 million fixed-rate mortgages will mature before the conclusion of 2023, with an even larger number up for renewal in 2024.

Martin Stewart, Director of Mortgage Advisory at London Money, expressed his concerns, labelling the market as “dysfunctional” and even suggesting that it might be “possibly broken”. In an interview with CNBC, Stewart revealed that mortgage advisors were dealing with an unprecedented scenario, with long queues comprising around 2,000 individuals, all vying for elusive mortgage deals that might or might not be available by the time they reach the front of the line.

Drawing parallels to the seismic impact of the financial crisis, albeit for different reasons, the past nine months have been transformative for both the mortgage and housing sectors. The echoes of history resonate, raising questions about how the future will unfold. In the midst of this uncertainty, potential homebuyers and existing homeowners are navigating a complex maze of choices and decisions.

Current Mortgage Landscape

As of 20th July 2023, the UK’s mortgage landscape is characterised by the following average rates based on 75% loan-to-value:

– Average two-year fixed-rate mortgage: 6.81%
– Average five-year fixed-rate mortgage: 6.3%
– Average two-year variable-rate mortgage: 5.59%
– Average standard variable rate (SVR): 8.4%

These averages offer a snapshot of the various mortgage products available in today’s market. It is important to recognise that these figures are just a starting point, and individual rates can vary significantly based on factors like the chosen mortgage type, financial situation, and deposit amount. A larger deposit typically results in lower interest rates and a better loan-to-value ratio.

Anticipating Rate Fluctuations

With economic indicators pointing towards a potential interest rate hike, homeowners and potential buyers are left wondering about the trajectory of mortgage rates. While historical context indicates that rates may rise, the current landscape is complex and evolving.

Experts predict that the UK’s base rate could reach 3% by the end of 2026, a significant drop from previous highs. Since the 2022 mini-budget, mortgage rates have generally receded from their peak levels. However, individual rates continue to be influenced by base rate fluctuations. The Bank of England’s consecutive rate hikes, with the most recent one in June 2023, have set the stage for possible future changes.

Analysts speculate that the base rate could reach around 6.5% by the end of 2023 or mid-2024, but this projection hinges on dynamic economic conditions. These fluctuations are pivotal for homeowners and potential buyers to monitor closely, as they shape the financial landscape.

Navigating the Shifting Terrain

For those concerned about rate increases, several strategic actions can be taken:

1. **Consider Fixed Mortgages**: Opt for fixed-rate mortgages to lock in a stable rate for a set period.
2. **Evaluate Early Repayment Charges**: If your current deal hasn’t concluded, assess potential early repayment charges before switching.
3. **Lock in Rates for Remortgaging**: If your deal is set to conclude within six months, secure a new rate early to avoid any unwanted surprises.
4. **Opt for Shorter-Term Fixes**: If apprehensive about a long-term commitment, shorter-term fixes offer flexibility.
5. **Explore Variable Rate Options**: Variable rate mortgages, like Tracker deals, offer immediate benefits from base rate drops but also come with the risk of rate hikes.

Borrower Stress and Implications

Pepper Advantage, a global credit intelligence provider, has raised an alarm with its data. Over the course of a year leading up to April 2023, the percentage of residential mortgages in arrears surged by 11%, marking the highest growth rate since the global financial crisis. These signs of borrower distress have been further mirrored in an alarming 33% rise in accounts with direct debit rejections (DDRs).

The rise in DDRs serves as an early indicator of mortgage arrears, signaling financial strain for borrowers. Pepper Advantage’s data highlights regional and product variations, revealing that fixed-rate mortgages have seen a 35.7% increase in arrears, while variable-rate mortgages followed suit with a 25.1% growth.

A distinct North-South divide is evident, with the Northeast and Northwest regions displaying higher arrears percentages of around 10%. London, on the other hand, boasts a comparatively lower arrears rate of approximately 5%. Interestingly, borrowers across all age groups are grappling with financial strain, with those aged 21 to 30 witnessing a 50% increase in arrears.

Pepper Advantage is leveraging its wealth of mortgage portfolio data to address borrower stress, offering tailored solutions like concessional payments, term extensions, interest rate reductions, short-term interest-only periods, and payment holidays. Jerry McHugh, CEO of Pepper Advantage UK, emphasizes the importance of understanding specific segments of borrowers to offer effective solutions during challenging times.


In the dynamic world of UK mortgages, staying informed is your best ally. As rates soar and borrower stress rises, making empowered decisions is crucial. Here’s a quick recap of the key takeaways:

**Rate Fluctuations Are Real:** The recent surge in average mortgage rates indicates a shifting landscape, potentially influenced by an impending Bank of England interest rate hike.

– **Consider Fixed Mortgages:** Opt for fixed-rate mortgages to secure stability over a set period, shielding yourself from potential rate increases.

– **Plan for Remortgaging:** If your current deal is nearing its end, secure a new rate in advance to avoid sudden changes and early repayment charges.

– **Short-Term Fixes for Flexibility:** If commitment concerns you, opt for shorter-term fixes that offer flexibility and align with your financial goals.

– **Explore Variable Rates:** Variable rate mortgages, like Tracker deals, can provide immediate benefits from base rate drops, but be ready for potential rate hikes.

– **Borrower Stress Is Rising:** The surge in accounts with direct debit rejections (DDRs) signals financial strain, urging borrowers to consider tailored solutions.

– **Region Matters:** Borrower distress exhibits a North-South divide, with regions like the Northeast and Northwest facing higher arrears percentages.

– **Stay Empowered:** Understanding specific borrower segments is key to offering effective solutions during challenging times.

– **Stay Informed:** Staying updated with current mortgage news is essential for navigating the evolving financial landscape.

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