All I want for Christmas is . . . a new mortgage?
When is the best time to investigate a house move or new mortgage deal? Statistics show that many people choose the Christmas holidays to get the ball rolling. Here, Michael Usher – owner of Michael Usher Mortgage Services – considers the seasonal trend…
As Christmas fast approaches, most people are frantically shopping for gifts rather than thinking about house moves, mortgages or finances. But come Boxing Day, the picture changes.
December 26th is one of the busiest in the whole year for property searches on Rightmove. On Boxing Day 2018, the website boasted a staggering 25,147,701 page views - three times the amount on a typical day. Many people even take advantage of their not-so-festive downtime to fill out tax forms, with HMRC revealing that 8,465 people filed their self-assessment returns on 26 December last year.
While these figures may seem surprising on first reading, dig a little deeper and the reasons become clearer. The period between Christmas and New Year can offer a golden opportunity to batten down the hatches and focus on the ‘life admin’ that gets postponed during the rest of the year. And with New Year approaching, many people have that extra motivation to get organised and plan a fresh start.
Thinking of moving in 2020? It’s impossible to predict with any certainty how the property and mortgage markets will perform in 2020. While some agents are forecasting regional booms in house prices, other commentators suggest prices will fall, particularly in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
But, even if gloomy forecasts prove correct, there will always be demand in the housing market, whether that’s from families desperate for extra space, couples going their separate ways, or first-time buyers determined to get on the property ladder.
Choosing your mortgage – DIY or use a broker? Finding a home is one part of the process, but working out whether your dream pad is affordable is the crucial next step. In such uncertain times, more and more homebuyers are seeking expert advice from a mortgage broker or adviser. In many cases, the broker will be recommended by an estate agent. However, buyers are of course free to find their own independent adviser – it’s always worth asking friends or family for recommendations of CeMAP-qualified brokers in your local area.
If you’re choosing to shop around for a mortgage yourself, there are many helpful websites to consult, such as moneysavingexpert.com. But even if you find what seems like an unbeatable deal, it’s still worth talking to a mortgage broker to see if they can suggest something even better. While broker fees may add up to a few hundred pounds, they can save the borrower many thousands of pounds over the term of a mortgage.
Streamline your finances for the year ahead For homeowners who don’t intend to move, it’s still important to take a look at your mortgage details to check you’re not missing out on potential savings. For example, if a fixed-rate deal has ended, your mortgage is likely to have reverted to the standard variable rate (SVR). The SVR can vary hugely between lenders and lead to significant increases in monthly repayments.
If you have other debts, it may be sensible to consolidate these into your mortgage. But shifting a debt to a mortgage isn’t right for everyone; as a general rule, you’re likely to reduce monthly outgoings, but in the long-term you’ll pay more interest. Again, it’s a good idea to discuss the options with an independent financial adviser before making any firm decisions.
Whether you’re a seasoned property owner or a first time buyer, it’s always worth investigating the current mortgage landscape to see if you could find a better deal. With a bit of research and some expert advice, you could reap savings that add up to the best Christmas present ever!