Interest Only Mortgages
Everything you need to know about eligibility for an interest only mortgage and how to get the best rate
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Interest-only mortgages are not as common as they once were. However, an increasing number of lenders are re-introducing this type of product, providing a welcome option for many buyers.
In this article, we’ll look at the availability of interest-only mortgages, what they can be used for, and how you can get the best deal for your needs.
What is an interest-only mortgage?
As you might expect, an interest-only mortgage is a type of home loan whereby only the interest is repaid each month throughout the term. At the end of the mortgage term, you’ll still owe the full amount borrowed, which will need to be paid in full at this point.
Whilst this can be a great way to keep costs low throughout the duration of the mortgage, as monthly payments will be significantly lower than repaying capital and interest together, you will end up paying more overall.
This is because mortgage interest is charged on the total amount you owe, and as the amount you owe doesn’t reduce, the interest charged will not change either.
It’s vital you have an effective repayment vehicle (method of loan repayment) in place to repay the lender the original capital borrowed at the end of the term. A typical term is around 25 years, however, in most cases, the lender will need to agree with your repayment strategy as part of the application process. Each lender has its own list of acceptable repayment vehicles, and this can range from the resale of the property to investments and savings
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How to get an interest-only mortgage
Your first step should be to find a specialist mortgage broker with experience arranging interest-only mortgages as this will boost your chances of getting approved at the best terms available.
Using our free broker-matching service you can speak straight away to the right broker by simply making an enquiry online. They’ll be able to help with:
- Readying all the necessary paperwork
- Downloading your credit reports
- Finding the right lender and securing the best deal for you
Are they still available for residential properties?
Yes, although they are not as readily available as they once were and the lending criteria for them is usually more stringent compared to residential mortgages.
Since the financial crisis in 2008, lenders have been more reluctant to offer interest-only mortgages on residential purchases, but have continued to offer them almost exclusively for buy-to-let investment purchases. In the past few years, however, interest-only mortgages have become more commonplace for residential purchases again, albeit with stricter criteria.
Often there are large deposit and/or equity requirements and high minimum income thresholds for residential purchases. In fact, some lenders will only consider this type of mortgage for high-net-worth individuals. If you’re able to meet the criteria, however, it’s perfectly possible to use an interest-only mortgage to purchase residential property.
Some lenders allow interest-only mortgages for this purpose, however, you may need a specialist provider. Those lenders that do allow this type of residential purchase may have slightly different criteria, and therefore a larger deposit may be required for second home mortgages.
In certain circumstances, such as buying a second home for a family member, it may also be possible to get a regulated buy-to-let mortgage with some lenders. The interest-only specialists that we work with will be able to point you in the direction of the lenders willing to consider this type of purchase.
How do they compare to repayment mortgages?
You can compare the monthly cost of your mortgage on a repayment agreement versus an interest-only deal by using our calculator below.
Mortgage Repayment Calculator
This calculator can tell you how much your mortgage will cost you each month and overall. Enter the amount you’re borrowing, the term length and interest rate. Our calculator will do the rest and give you the option to covert the results to interest only
Total amount paid at end of term:
Get started with an expert broker to find out how much they could help you save on your mortgage repayments.
How much you could borrow
The amount you can borrow will depend on a number of factors, most importantly, the purpose of the mortgage. In the case of investment properties, the borrowing is largely based on the potential rental income of the property. If you plan to buy a residential property, the total amount you can borrow will be determined by a multiple of your income, although the loan-to-value (LTV) offered is likely to be lower than for a residential repayment mortgage on the same income.
Our mortgage affordability calculator could help you to determine the size of loan that might be possible. Once you’ve tried it out, why not talk to one of the brokers we work with who specialise in this type of home loan?
Mortgage Affordability Calculator
Our affordability calculator can tell you how much you can potentially borrow from a mortgage lender. Simply enter your total household income below and our calculator will do the rest.
You could borrow up to
Most lenders would consider letting you borrow
This is based on 4.5 times your household income, the standard calculation used by the majority of mortgage providers. To borrow more than this, you will need to use a mortgage broker to access specialist lenders.
Some lenders would consider letting you borrow
This is based on 5 times your household income, a salary multiple you might struggle to qualify for without the help of a broker. This income multiple is not widely available to customers who are applying directly with a lender.
A minority of lenders would consider letting you borrow
This is based on 6 times your household income, a salary multiple you will struggle to get without a broker. Six-times salary mortgages are usually only available under very specific circumstances.
Get Started with an expert broker to find out exactly how much you could borrow.
Criteria varies from lender to lender, although will generally be stricter across the board in the case of residential purchases.
Lenders will typically expect you to meet the following requirements:
- Income and affordability – you’ll need to prove that you can afford the repayments, and, in many cases, that you have an income in line with the lender’s minimum income threshold for this mortgage type.
- Credit history – your credit rating will be less impactful to the outcome of your mortgage application than it would for a capital repayment mortgage, especially in the case of buy-to-lets. However, serious credit issues could still be a stumbling block. Luckily there are specific bad credit lenders, and bad credit brokers who specialise in this area.
- Age – Most lenders have minimum and maximum age thresholds, although some interest-only mortgages are intended specifically for older borrowers, such as a RIO (Retirement interest-only). There are also some lenders with no maximum age requirement.
- Experience – If you’re looking to purchase for investment purposes, some lenders will prefer that you have prior landlord experience, particularly in the case of HMO (house of multiple occupancy) mortgages. There are lenders that will consider first-time landlords, however, these are likely to be more specialist providers.
- Deposit – The LTV (loan to value) amount offered on interest-only mortgages is typically lower than for repayment mortgages, making the deposit requirement greater. This will vary from lender to lender, and depending on your circumstances, however, 25% deposit is a typical requirement for a buy-to-let property, and for residential properties, it could be as high as 50%.
- Property type – No matter the mortgage type, lenders are often cautious about lending on any non-standard construction properties. If you’re looking to purchase a listed or timber-frame property, for example, you’re likely to need a specialist lender.
- Repayment vehicle – This will likely have the most influence over a lender’s decision when it comes to interest-only mortgages. There are a plethora of potential options here, and a broker with expertise in this area will be best placed to help you choose the most suitable for your circumstances.
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Acceptable repayment vehicles
Having a reliable repayment vehicle in place is the most important element of an interest-only mortgage application, and you may find that lenders are more flexible with some of the other eligibility criteria, providing they are comfortable that your chosen repayment method is solid.
There is not typically a requirement to have a set repayment vehicle for investment properties, as they are unregulated, although it is very common for buy-to-let landlords to use the sale of the property, or another property in their portfolio to repay the loan.
The type of repayment vehicles that each lender considers acceptable varies, and it’s perfectly possible to have one lender accept you, when another has declined you based on your chosen vehicle. Some lenders will also accept multiple repayment vehicles against one purchase, although each individual option may then have a minimum acceptable value.
In each case, you’ll need to provide evidence of your chosen strategy, which may include any of the below options:
Sell the property
Selling the property is a popular repayment vehicle, especially in the case of investment properties. You might choose to sell a residential property at the end of a longer mortgage term by downsizing to a smaller (or lower value) dwelling and using the equity to repay the original loan. Bear in mind that some lenders have a minimum equity requirement for this to be acceptable.
Sale of other assets
You might also consider using the sale of an alternative (second) property from within your wider portfolio to repay the lump sum. Some lenders may even accept alternative high-value assets, such as vehicle fleets, artwork, and jewellery.
There are a number of investment options that may be deemed acceptable repayment vehicles, including:
- Stocks and/or shares
- Unit trusts
- Endowment policy
Endowment policies are no longer a popular repayment vehicle due to their notorious failure to grow in value in line with the cost of your loan. However, some lenders will still accept this type of investment if you can provide satisfactory proof of projected growth. As all investments are subject to fluctuation, lenders will need to be confident in their potential to repay your loan balance, and verified proof of policy will be required.
Cash repayment or pension lump sum
You could choose to use personal savings, an inheritance, or the tax-free lump sum taken from your pension pot to repay the loan. Some lenders will also offer you the flexibility to make regular lump sum payments against the capital throughout the course of the mortgage term.
Retirement interest-only mortgages (RIO)
A RIO has no fixed end date, and the loan will be repaid from the property sale when you either pass away or move into long-term care. So long as you’re still able to meet the affordability criteria for the monthly interest payments, it may be possible to remortgage onto this type of product. Always ensure you take qualified financial advice from an expert in later life lending before committing to this type of decision.
If you are 55 or older, an equity release product, such as a lifetime mortgage, may be a suitable repayment vehicle. It’s important to seek relevant advice before taking out any form of equity release.
There are a number of remortgage options you could consider, however, you’ll need to consider your age and the maximum term that lenders will consider, especially if you are already towards the end of a 25-year term. Your current lender may also be willing to extend your existing mortgage, depending on your circumstances.
It’s possible to remortgage to a lender with more flexible age and term criteria or to a repayment mortgage. Some lenders, such as Skipton Building Society, also offer part and part mortgages, which combine a repayment and interest-only mortgage. This can make the repayment more manageable, as you will chip away at some of the capital, and the amount outstanding at the end of the term will be lower.
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Which lenders offer these mortgages?
Despite many lenders having withdrawn their interest-only products from the market following the financial crisis in 2008, an increasing number of lenders are re-introducing this type of deal, and there are currently over 35 across the market offering them.
The vast majority of lenders have significantly stricter criteria for interest-only lending, with many having fairly high minimum income and equity/deposit requirements. Some lenders, however, such as HSBC and Barclays are currently offering this type of product with no minimum equity requirement.*
Some examples of current lenders offering interest-only products and their relevant criteria are provided in the below table.*
|Lender||Minimum Income (Single)||Minimum income (Joint)||Deposit||Minimum Equity||Important|
|Barclays||£75,000||£100,000||On application||No||Cannot rely on property sale to repay loan|
|Nationwide||£75,000||£100,000||40%||Varies by region: £300,000 - Greater London £250,000 - Outer South East £200,000 - all other UK regions||New purchase and remortgage only maximum term of 25 years (or retirement if sooner) maximum loan amount of £2 million. Not available to first time buyers|
|Santander||N/A||N/A||50%||On application||Max age 70|
|Natwest||£75,000||£100,000||25%||On application||mortgages £25,000+ term must finish by age 70|
Please note lenders mortgage terms and criteria can be subject to change. Speaking to a mortgage broker is the best way to keep track of the terms and conditions available at any given time.
What rates to expect
Interest-only mortgages are generally available at both variable and fixed rates, similar to repayment mortgages. Rates costs vary based on whether they are variable or fixed, the length of the fixed-term, deposit size, and the total amount and length of the loan.
See our rates table below for examples of the current deals available.
Looking for more rates and deals?
We can match you with a mortgage broker who can provide you with up-to-date bespoke rates and deals from across the entire market.
Last updated October 2023
Please note that the above rates were accurate at the time of writing, but are always subject to change at the lender’s discretion. Speaking to a mortgage broker is the best way to find the most up-to-date deals.
Get matched with an interest-only mortgage specialist
Whatever your reason for choosing an interest-only mortgage, the brokers we work with are experts in this field, and can find the most suitable deal for your needs, and circumstances. As well as helping you to secure the best rates, they can ensure the lender accepts your chosen repayment vehicle, and help you prepare your application for a smooth transaction.
Our free broker matching service will introduce you to the most suitable broker, so contact us on 0808 189 2301 or via this form, and we’ll get you started with a free, no-obligation chat.
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There are no specific insurance policies designed to cover interest-only mortgage borrowers, but the vast majority of homeowners consider protection policies that can help them make their mortgage payments in the event of sickness, disability or the death of one person in a joint mortgage.
Types of policies to consider include…
There are many variations of these policies, some of which are combined plans with elements of all of the above.
Click the links to find out more about these insurance types on our sister service, Online Money Advisor.
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