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Interest Only Mortgages: Everything You Need to Know

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interest only mortgage

Interest-only mortgages have been popular for borrowers who want to keep their monthly repayments low. Unlike repayment mortgages, interest-only mortgages allow borrowers to pay only the interest on their loan without repaying any of the capital borrowed.


This means that monthly payments are lower, but the borrower must repay the full mortgage amount in one lump sum at the end of the mortgage term.


Interest-only mortgages typically have a shorter mortgage term than repayment mortgages, usually around 25 years. This means borrowers must find a way to repay the full mortgage amount at the end of the term. Many borrowers choose to do this by using savings, investments, or other assets, but it is important to have a plan to ensure the full amount can be repaid.


Regarding repayments, interest-only mortgages can be a good option for borrowers who have irregular incomes or want to keep their monthly payments low.


However, it is important to remember that interest-only mortgages are riskier than repayment mortgages, as borrowers are not paying off any of the capital borrowed each month. It is important to consider the pros and cons of an interest-only mortgage before deciding whether it is the right option.

Understanding Interest-Only Mortgages

How Does an Interest-Only Mortgage Work?

An interest-only mortgage is a type where the borrower only pays the interest on the loan each month rather than paying off both the interest and the capital.


This means the borrower’s monthly payments are lower than a repayment mortgage. However, at the end of the mortgage term, the borrower will still owe the full amount borrowed and must pay it off in one lump sum.


Interest-only mortgages are typically taken out for a fixed term, usually between 5 and 25 years. During this time, the borrower pays only the interest on the loan, which is calculated based on the outstanding balance.


At the end of the term, the borrower must repay the entire amount borrowed by selling the property, using savings, or taking out a new mortgage.

Comparison with Repayment Mortgages

The main difference between interest-only mortgages and repayment mortgages is that the borrower only pays the interest each month with an interest-only mortgage.


In contrast, with a repayment mortgage, the borrower pays the interest and some of the capital each month. This means that the monthly payments on an interest-only mortgage are lower than they would be on a repayment mortgage.


However, as the borrower is not paying off any of the capital during the mortgage term, they must repay the full amount borrowed at the end of the term. This can be a significant amount of money, and borrowers need to have a plan in place for how they will repay the loan.


Interest-only mortgages are typically more expensive than repayment mortgages, as the interest rates are usually higher. This is because the lender is taking on more risk by not receiving any capital repayments during the mortgage term.


Overall, interest-only mortgages can be a good option for borrowers with a plan for how they will repay the loan at the end of the term. However, borrowers should know the risks and seek professional advice before taking out an interest-only mortgage.

Pros and Cons of Interest-Only Mortgages

Interest-only mortgages are a type of mortgage where the borrower only pays the interest on the loan without paying down the principal.


This means the monthly payments are lower than a traditional repayment mortgage, but the borrower is still responsible for paying back the full amount borrowed at the end of the mortgage term. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of interest-only mortgages.

Advantages of Interest Only Mortgages

Lower Monthly Payments

One of the main advantages of interest-only mortgages is that the monthly payments are lower than with traditional repayment mortgages. This can be particularly attractive to borrowers on a tight budget or who want to maximize their savings.



Interest-only mortgages offer more flexibility than traditional repayment mortgages. Borrowers can choose to pay more than the minimum monthly payment or make lump-sum payments at any time. 

This can help borrowers to pay off their mortgage faster or to reduce the amount of interest they pay over the life of the mortgage.


Investment Opportunities

Interest-only mortgages can allow borrowers to invest the money they save on their monthly payments. For example, they could invest in stocks, shares, or property. 

This could lead to higher returns than if they had paid off their mortgage early.

interest only mortgage

Disadvantages of Interest Only Mortgages


Interest-only mortgages are riskier than traditional repayment mortgages. This is because the borrower is responsible for paying back the full amount borrowed at the end of the mortgage term. If the borrower cannot repay the full amount, they may be forced to sell their property or face repossession.


Negative Equity

Interest-only mortgages can also lead to negative equity. This is when the property’s value falls below the amount owed on the mortgage. If this happens, the borrower may find selling their property or remortgage difficult.


More Debt

Interest-only mortgages can result in borrowers having more debt at the end of the mortgage term than with traditional repayment mortgages. 


This is because they have only been paying the loan’s interest, not the principal. This means they will need to devise a plan to pay back the full amount borrowed at the end of the mortgage term.

Criteria for an Interest Only Mortgage


To be eligible for an interest-only mortgage, applicants must meet certain criteria. According to Barclays, the borrower must earn at least £75,000 per year if applying alone. In joint applications, one of the applicants must earn at least £75,000 per year, or the combined income must be at least £100,000. The lender will also require a deposit, which varies depending on the lender and the applicant’s circumstances.


Applicants must also pass affordability checks to assess their income, expenses, and credit history. The lender will want to ensure that the borrower can afford the repayments and that they are taking on only a little debt.



To apply for an interest-only mortgage, borrowers can go directly to a lender or a mortgage broker. A mortgage broker can help borrowers find the best deal and guide them through the application process. They can also help those with bad credit find a lender who will consider their application.


The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates mortgage lenders and brokers to ensure that they treat customers fairly. The FCA requires lenders and brokers to provide clear and accurate information to borrowers, explain the risks of interest-only mortgages, and assess the borrower’s affordability.


First-time buyers may be eligible for government schemes, such as Help to Buy, to help them climb the property ladder. These schemes can provide a loan or equity loan to help with the deposit or reduce the monthly repayments.

Risks of Getting an Interest Only Mortgage

One of the main risks associated with an interest-only mortgage is the potential for negative equity. Negative equity occurs when the property’s value exceeds the outstanding mortgage balance.



This can happen if property prices fall or if the borrower has yet to pay off any of the capital on their mortgage. In this situation, the borrower may find remortgage or sell their property easier if incurring a loss.



Another market risk is the possibility of rising interest rates. If interest rates increase, the borrower’s monthly payments will also increase, which could strain their finances. Considering if the borrower’s income is expected to stay the same in line with interest rate rises is particularly important.


When taking out an interest-only mortgage, it is important to have a plan to repay the capital at the end of the mortgage term. If the borrower has a suitable repayment plan, they may be able to repay the capital and avoid losing their home.


It is also important to consider how an interest-only mortgage will impact the borrower’s retirement plans. If the borrower is relying on the sale of their property to fund their retirement, they may be at risk if the property is worth less than the outstanding mortgage balance.


In addition, an interest-only mortgage may impact the borrower’s ability to save for their pension. As they only pay the interest on their mortgage, they may have less disposable income for their pension savings.


Overall, an interest-only mortgage can be a suitable option for some borrowers, but it is important to consider the potential risks and have a suitable repayment plan.

interest only mortgage

Mortgage Management

Managing an interest-only mortgage requires careful consideration and planning. Borrowers should regularly review their mortgage strategy to ensure they are on track to repay the outstanding balance at the end of the term.


Remortgaging Options

Remortgaging is an option for borrowers who want to switch to a different type of mortgage or lender. It can be a useful way to reduce monthly payments, access better interest rates, or release equity in the property. However, it is important to consider the costs involved, such as legal and valuation fees, and the potential impact of early repayment charges (ERCs).


Product Transfers

A product transfer is a way to switch to a new mortgage deal with the same lender without the full remortgaging process. It can be a quick and easy way to secure a new deal, but borrowers should know that they may need access to the same range of products as new customers. 


Additionally, it is important to compare the costs and benefits of a product transfer with those of a remortgage.


When considering mortgage management options, borrowers should seek financial advice to ensure they make an informed decision. A financial advisor can help borrowers understand the pros and cons of each option and recommend a strategy that aligns with their financial goals.


Regularly reviewing the mortgage strategy is also important to ensure that borrowers are on track to repay the outstanding balance at the end of the term. This may involve overpayments or considering alternative repayment vehicles, such as an investment vehicle or endowment policy.


It is important to note that early repayment charges (ERCs) may apply if borrowers repay all or part of their mortgage early. ERCs can be a significant cost, so factoring them into any mortgage management strategy is important.


Special Situations

Interest-only mortgages are not suitable for everyone, but they can be useful in certain circumstances. This section will discuss two special situations where interest-only mortgages may be appropriate.


Buy to Let Interest Only Mortgages

Buy-to-let mortgages are designed for landlords who want to invest in the property market. With a buy-to-let mortgage, the borrower can purchase and rent a property to tenants. The rental income can then be used to pay off the interest on the mortgage.


Buy-to-let mortgages are usually interest-only, as the landlord is not planning to live in the property and does not need to pay off the capital.


However, it is important to remember that the rental income may only sometimes cover the mortgage payments, and the landlord may need other income sources to cover any shortfall.

Choosing The Right Mortgage Broker

When choosing a mortgage adviser, it is important to consider their qualifications and experience. A whole-of-market mortgage broker can provide access to a wide range of mortgage products from different lenders, which can help borrowers find the best deal for their needs.


Borrowers should also consider the cost of the advice and any fees associated with the mortgage product. Some mortgage advisers may charge an upfront fee for their services, while others may receive a commission from the lender.


Overall, seeking expert guidance and support is essential when considering an interest-only mortgage. Borrowers should take the time to research their options and choose a mortgage adviser that they trust and feel comfortable working with. With the right advice and support, borrowers can make an informed decision and develop a clear strategy for repayment.

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