Buy to Let Mortgages Explained – UK Landlords

Buy to Let Mortgages Explained – UK Landlords

You’re lucky! The U.K. has one of the most competitive and flexible mortgage markets in the world. There is certainly no shortage of choice.

The careful planning of your financial strategy in terms of the kind of mortgage you select is vital if you are to maximise your overall investment returns. for example, don’t get locked into a 5 year fixed term mortgage with high redemption charges if you think there is any chance you may want to or need to sell within a associate of years. Research your mortgage options and have a clear ‘game plan’ for your investment if you want to optimise the financial returns. If you haven’t got the time or experience to do this use a mortgage broker

Firstly, what sorts of ‘buy-to-let’ mortgages are there?

kind of mortgage

Essentially with ‘buy-to-let’ as for ordinary residential mortgages, there are two types:

Repayment Mortgages

This kind of loan requires the borrower to pay off the capital sum in addition as the loan interest so that at the end of the period it is fully repaid. This is the safe option as it guarantees that what ever happens, the loan will have been paid off by the end of the mortgage. Are there any disadvantages? There are two basic drawbacks. Firstly, from a tax point of view it is only the interest part of the loan that is offset able against rental income. Secondly, repayments will be higher. This method that it is much easier to sustain a negative cash flow with a repayment mortgage. This inability to meet loan repayments from rentals method that the size of the loan that lenders are prepared to improvement will probably be smaller.

Interest only mortgages

This kind of loan requires the borrower to repay only the interest on the loan, in much the same way as you would with the minimum payment on a credit card. The good thing is that your complete payment is offset able against rental income thereby maximising the reduction of your rental profits and any possible income tax liability. However, the ‘downside’ is that it does average that you have no method of repaying the loan at the end of the mortgage period. Sounds scary – but there is a range of options and specialist advice from Independent Financial Advisers (IFAs) who can advise you on your options in fleeting they can be summarised as follows:

Do nothing – continue to pay the interest and hope that the real value of the loan reduces because of inflation and the value of your investment rises resulting in every increasing amounts of equity

Set up a ‘repayment means’ which is simple a savings scheme structured in such a way that it aims to repay the loan by the end of the mortgage period. Typical of these were the endowment policies which became almost standard until the early nineties when it was realised that investment returns were not going to be as high as had before been experienced

There are several different ways interest can be charged on your mortgage:

Fixed Rate

A fixed interest mortgage is one where the interest rate is fixed for at a specific rate for a predetermined period of time ranging from 12 months to the complete term of the loan term. Typically the period is between 2 and 5 years. The great thing for borrowers is certainty – knowing what ever happens to interest rates your payments will always be the same each month. The downside if rates certainly fall you are left paying much more than your fellow landlords on a variable rate – it’s a gamble!


Discounted rates, as they suggest offer a reduction in mortgage interest rates for a limited period of time. This discount period is sometimes very useful. for example it will reduce your negative cash flow where a character is being refurbished and is laying empty. Watch out for high set up costs and that once the discount period ends the mortgage rate is competitive. The other thing is those lock in periods. Some will just be for the period of the discount, but others extend beyond this and can be very expensive to get out of.


This kind of mortgage really came into being to ‘protect’ house buyers from emotional rises in interest rates such as those experienced in the early 90’s; just after the U.K. withdrew from the ERM. To me they have had their day as the chances now of emotional interest rate movements are now highly doubtful.

Trackers (base rate or LIBOR)

This kind of mortgage is so called because the mortgage rate is connected or tracks the Bank of England base rate. When this changes, so does your mortgage interest rate. You can often get attractive deals with these mortgages as they are a low risk product for lenders as any increase in their borrowing rates can be immediately passed on to their customers.

How interest is charged

Interest can be charged by your mortgage company in a number of ways. The majority of the major lenders will calculate interest on a daily basis. They consequently look at the interest rate prevailing on that day and calculate your payments consequently. Some companies such as Paragon will calculate the interest on a monthly basis. They do this by taking the rate at the beginning of the month and calculate the interest due based on this rate, already if it changes in the meantime.

Some companies such as the Bristol and West and Chelsea nevertheless calculate interest payments based on the variable rate at the beginning of the year. The advantage for borrowers of having the variable rate effectively fixed for a year is that it gives them greater warning with which to adjust their finances when rates change. The disadvantages are that if rates fall, then savings will not be passed on closest.

In looking at the interest rate, it is in addition to be aware of the significance of the APR (Annual Percentage Rate) in assessing the ultimate cost of your loan. The APR is the cost of your borrowing and includes your interest payments, mortgage insurance and the originators fee; all expressed as an annual percentage. This is the true cost of the loan as apposed to the headline rate, which excludes fees and insurance and just reflects the interest being paid.

How to find the best deals

The Internet has made tracking down the best products with which to buy or remortgage an existing character. Try one of our partner sites such as: They offer an excellent free search facility. Just go into your selection criteria and they list the best deals obtainable. Despite this choice, you may feel more comfortable just using your existing bank, because you have used them before. I’m sure that they will be very helpful, but this is business. Will they offer the best deal? Make sure they are at the minimum competitive before you commit to using their products.

The other different is to source a loan by a mortgage broker. Brokers act on your behalf to find the best deals in the market place. They do this by having access to most lenders products by an online database. Using these databases they can pick the ‘hottest’ deals matching your requirements. For this service expect to pay a fee of between a £200-£500+, payable only if and when the mortgage is approved.

You may ask, why use a broker at all when you can find so much of this information over the Internet for free? There are a associate of reasons. First of all, time. As long as you are specific with your selection criteria and your circumstances; a good broker should be able to come up fairly quickly with a number of appropriate products. This can save you a important amount of work by not having to check by all the mortgage products, their interest rates, conditions and limitations. Secondly, where your financial circumstances are straight forward it should be fairly easy for you to find a appropriate mortgage. However, when your circumstances are more complicate the time taken to source the right mortgage can be important. In this situation brokers can easily earn their money by sourcing lenders that fit your very specific requirements.

Finally not all investors are aware that by using a broker they can access preferential rates and deals not obtainable by the general market. consequently it’s always worth checking with a broker first to see what they have all this will cost you nothing. Have a look at some of the most respected and well used buy-to-let mortgage brokers operating in the UK market today. Please let us know what you think so that we only recommend the best products.

The other assistance of using a broker is that they take care of most of the work involved in a mortgage application freeing you up to do more important things!

Mortgage companies lending criteria

Mortgage providers have broadly two approaches when it comes lending. The first maintains that any investment character should be assessed on the basis it is a self financing investment. The other approach which predominated prior to the arrival of the ‘buy-to-let’ initiative in the late 90’s, measures affordability in terms of the applicants overall income and their financial commitments. The details of each approach are laid out below:

1. The majority of lenders now lend on the basis that the investment character is self supporting in that rent generated will pay for the mortgage and other related expenses. They consequently insist that the rent covers a minimum of 125-130% of the expected mortgage payment. One thing to watch out for is what companies stipulate as the interest rate to be used to calculate the projected mortgage payment. Some lenders use an interest rate reflecting the long-term average; others use the current standard variable rate. Some companies are prepared to use a mortgage calculation based on interest only costs if that’s the kind of mortgage you are applying for. Others automatically assume a repayment mortgage, which makes obtaining the maximum of 85% Loan To Value (LTV) more difficult..

2. The other approach used by mortgage companies uses personal income as a basis of affordability. The mortgage company takes the salary or income after outgoings to access a borrower’s ability to repay the debt. This is a more careful lending policy most appropriate for high income individuals or older buyers who may be close to or have paid off their existing mortgage. This kind of lending criteria also limits the number of similarities that can be bought and consequently this kind of provider is not appropriate for those investors who want to build a portfolio of similarities.

possible stumbling blocks

Like any course of action things don’t always proceed smoothly. So what kind of things could go wrong? One of the possible problems is that your credit score fails to come up to the mark. For most people this shouldn’t be an issue. Only if you have or had existing debt problems should you struggle on this. If you do fail to acquire a mortgage on your own, this is when engaging the sets of a mortgage broker could be helpful in obtaining a loan.

Another possible problem is the recommendations contained within the mortgage surveyor’s report. This report could pick up on a number of issues that potentially impact on the chances of you been offered a loan:

1. Firstly, the surveyor may clarify basic repairs to the building. The surveyor could insist that a retention is placed on the loan paid to you so that you don’t get the complete amount until the work is carried out.

2. The surveyor may value the character at less than the agreed buy price. In both scenario 1 & 2, low valuations can present an opportunity to an entrepreneurial purchaser to go back to the vendor and negotiate a lower price.

3. The third scenario where the mortgage surveyors report can impact on the mortgage improvement is; when they disagree with the projected rental assessment for the character. This situation is particularly likely where you are purchasing a character that needs extensive cosmetic refurbishment and redecoration. In this situation you could consider using a special refurbishment mortgage such as the one offered by Paragon Mortgages

The strength of the remortgage

Most people only think of taking out a mortgage when they buy a new character. But what about remortgaging? This is something I have done regularly over the years. As similarities have increased in value I have regularly taken equity out. This course of action has allowed me to free up capital and either buy additional similarities or have a good holiday! More seriously it’s always good to keep checking the market to make sure you are nevertheless getting a good deal.

What are the costs? These should be much less than an initial loan as there is no stamp duty to pay and also because there are no vendors to deal with. Legal fees are also less at approximately two thirds of those for an initial buy. It’s now possible to do the complete course of action online, check out our panel of recommended conveyancers.

Tips & summary

* Keep an eye on the mortgage market for new deals and products that might be appropriate for your needs

* Review your redemption penalties – it might be cheaper to pay them in order to get out of an uncompetitive deal

* continue as much flexibility in your financing arrangements – don’t fix your rate unless you are very certain that it is good value or you will not need to extricate yourself from the agreement early

* Read the small print. Make sure you understand any redemption penalties before you sign

* Remember the tax implications of a mortgage – only the interest is offset able against rental income

* Only use equity release for larger sums of money that are required for the long-term. For shorter periods and small sums, consider using an unsecured personal loan

* Check out the special deals offered by the big mortgage brokers before dismissing using their sets. You could save thousands over the period of the deal, easily paying for their brokers fees

* If you see a good deal, ‘go for it’. Many of the best mortgage deals are non standard products with limited funds allocated to them. If you don’t sign up quickly they are likely to be fully subscribed for very quickly.

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