Life & Culture

How to pick the best mortgage deal as base interest rate is frozen

Our personal finance expert Rosanna Spero explores the best deals on the market


Close up of the new UK pound coin released into circulation 30 Mar 2017. In the background is the new ten pound note released into circulation 14 Sep 2017.

The Bank of England’s decision to leave the base rate unchanged at 5.25 per cent last week provided a welcome respite for homeowners who have seen 14 consecutive base rate rises.

But for the estimated 800,000 borrowers coming off a fixed-rate deal before the end of the year, the question is whether this marks the end of base rate rises or just a pause.

And if rates are going to start coming down, from when?

Kellie Steed, a mortgage expert at, says: “The Bank’s decision followed recent inflation data, which revealed the CPI had reduced to 6.7 per cent in August.

"However, the base rate is expected to remain high for now, with some experts feeling reductions won’t begin until at least mid 2024.

"Unless inflation falls faster than currently forecast, it could be even longer before any reductions to the base rate are announced — with some economists expecting it to remain at its current level for a year or more.

Whether you believe the cycle has ended or paused, lenders’ variable rates remain typically in excess of 8 per cent, making it worthwhile taking out some kind of deal when your current one ends."

You can sign up for a new mortgage deal up to six months before your current one ends, but can pull out or change to a better one any time before then.

This gives certainty that should rates increase you have a deal locked in. As the pressure on rates has eased, lenders have reduced the cost of their top deals.

Yorkshire Building Society offers a 4.99 per cent five-year fixed-rate with a £1,495 fee. Monthly repayments on a £200,000 loan are £1,168.

If you think rates will fall more quickly, Bank of Ireland is offering the top two year fixed rate at 5.39 per cent, with a £1,495 fee, giving monthly repayments during the deal of £1,217 on £200,000 of borrowing.

An alternative to a fixed rate is a tracker deal, which follows the Bank of England base rate.

While costs could rise if the base rate rises, it will also fall when it starts to drop in line with the change.

There are no guarantees when and by how much a lender’s variable rate will rise or fall when the base rate change.

David Hollingworth of mortgage broker London & Country says: “Trackers offer flexibility, either as a temporary holding place until rates fall as many have no early repayment penalties, or for the duration of the deal. But they are a gamble as they can rise, so you need wiggle room on payments just in case. ”

He recommends a two-year tracker from Nationwide fixed at 0.14 per cent above base — so currently 5.39 per cent. It has a £999 arrangement fee but no early redemption penalties (ERP). A £200,000 loan costs £1,215 a month.

For a five-year tracker, Barclays offers 0.6 per cent above base — so 5.85 per cent with a £999 fee.

Monthly repayments are £1,270, and with no ERP you can move to a better rate at any time.

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