Expert and professional FAQ

Your home is the biggest financial commitment you will ever make. With so much choice in the market, it can be very confusing. Below, you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ring a local branch and one of our advisers will be happy to answer them.

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Frequently Asked Questions

A mortgage is the name given to a loan secured on property. It is usually used to buy the home although it is becoming more popular to consider a new mortgage, where the property is already owned, to access a more competitive mortgage product or to raise capital for other purposes, such as school fees or business investment. You may have to pay an early repayment charge to your existing lender if you re-mortgage.

A mortgage is a long-term loan and has traditionally run for a fixed period, typically 25 years. However most mortgages are flexible enough to allow for early repayment or, if your circumstances dictate, the term can be extended beyond the original load period.

Mortgages were once the preserve of building societies and the high street banks, however recently far more competition has entered the market and there is now a raft of lenders offering mortgage loans on residential property. This expansion in the number of lenders has led to a vast array of different loan packages.

Nowadays there are loan deals to suit most people’s needs, whether you are buying your first home, a retirement cottage or perhaps an investment property.

With a repayment mortgage, your monthly payments to the lender go towards reducing the amount you owe as well as paying the interest they charge. This means that each month you are paying off a small part of your mortgage.

Interest Only
These mortgages are now only offered with very strict criteria and are not available to everyone. With an interest only mortgage you only pay the interest charged on your loan, so you are not actually reducing the loan itself. You will need to have a feasible repayment strategy in place to repay your loan at the end of the term, for example investment and/or savings plans. Lenders will want to see proof of these.

Standard Variable Rate (SVR)
This is a standard interest that can go up or down in line with market rates, such as the Bank of England’s base rate.

Discounted Rate
Some mortgages start with an initial interest rate set lower than the SVR for a set period of time. At the end of this period, the lender will change the interest rate to the SVR. It is a good idea to talk to your adviser at this stage because the lender’s SVR may not be the best deal available.

Fixed Rate
If you choose a fixed rate mortgage, your monthly payment will stay the same for a set period, usually two, three or five years. At the end of your fixed rate, your lender will usually change their interest rate to their SVR. It is a good idea to talk to your adviser at this stage because the lender’s SVR may not be the best deal available.

Tracker Mortgage
With a tracker mortgage, the interest rate charged by a lender is linked to a rate such as the Bank of England base rate. This means your payments may go up or down.

Offset Mortgage
An offset mortgage is generally linked to a main current account and/or savings account which are all held with the same lender. Each month the amount you oweis reduced by the amount in these accounts before working out the interest due on your loan. This means as your current account and savings balances go up, you pay less mortgage interest. As they go down, you pay more. Linked accounts used to reduce mortgage interest payments do not attract interest.

Capped and Collared Rate
With this type of mortgage, the interest rate is linked to a lender’s SVR but with a guarantee that it will not go above a set level (called a ‘cap’) or below a certain level (called a ‘collar’) for a set period of time. It is possible to have a capped rate without a collar.

Your current income (which includes commission, bonuses, overtime – ie any additional income that is subject to tax) will determine how much you can borrow. Some lenders calculate borrowing ability by a straightforward multiple of your income while others will work out your net disposable income and then allow you to borrow a percentage of that. We will help you calculate how much you can borrow.

Yes, all lenders have different lending criteria, however you can borrow to fund the cost of building a property, subject to income. If you are looking to buy a site to build your dream home on, then this could be the way to do it. The maximum loan for this is up to 90% of the valuation and the funds would be released in stages.

The answer to that depends on your own personal circumstances. If interest rates going up would leave you uneasy and feeling under pressure, it may be best to fix your mortgage for peace of mind. The benefit is that your monthly mortgage repayments are fixed for the duration of the fixed term so you can plan ahead without fear of rising mortgage repayments. At the end of your chosen fixed rate term, you will normally revert to the lender’s standard variable rate but you may be able to choose another fixed rate from the selection available at that time. You may have to pay an early repayment charge to your existing lender if you repay your mortgage within the fixed rate period.

The only type of insurance that you must take out when getting a mortgage is buildings insurance. The lender will make this a condition of the mortgage and it must be at least enough to cover the outstanding mortgage. However it is advisable to take out other insurances to protect your home and family if you were off work with illness or injury and would have no other way to pay your mortgage and other outgoings. Some of the types of insurance we can advise on are listed below:

Life Cover

Life cover provides a lump sum if you die during the policy term which can help pay off your mortgage. Therefore your family will not have to worry about repayments on your mortgage.

Critical Illness Cover

Critical illness cover is designed to help cover those critical illnesses which could have a severe impact on your lifestyle. It could pay out if you are diagnosed with one of the specified critical illnesses or disabilities listed on the policy or on death during the period of cover and you are eligible to claim. We can arrange cover for you so should you be diagnosed with a specified critical illness you could use the lump sum to help pay expensive medical costs or repay your mortgage.

Income Protection

Income Protection Insurance is a long-term insurance policy to help you if you can’t work because you’re ill or injured. As the name suggests it protects your income and as that income lasts throughout your working life, the term generally coincides with the clients chosen retirement date. Quite often though, it is sold in conjunction with a mortgage to protect the debt of the mortgage over the term of the mortgage.

Accident, Sickness & Unemployment

Accident, sickness & unemployment is a short-term income protection policy. It pays you a tax free monthly benefit for typically 12-24 months if you can’t work due to accident or sickness or if you become unemployed through no fault of your own. You can choose a policy that protects you against all of these events, or you can choose a policy to protect you against accident and sickness only, or unemployment only.

Buildings Insurance

This will cover items that cannot be removed if you move home. These include the property structure such as roof, walls, windows and permanent fittings. This is mandatory to protect the lender.

Contents Insurance

This will cover your household goods, personal possessions and valuables within the home.

Find more answers in our Helping Hands Brochure
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With 19 branches located all around Northern Ireland, you’re sure to find a local The Mortgage Shop near you! Come down and pay us a visit for all your mortgage and insurance needs.

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Important information

The Mortgage Shop (NI) Limited undertakes credit broking and is not a lender. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home.  Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage. Typically we do not charge a fee for mortgage advice, however if we do, depending on your circumstances, it will be a maximum of £250. You may have to pay an early repayment charge to your existing lender if you remortgage.