For consumers who are looking to save money on their home loans, the first option is usually to opt for a home loan that offers the lowest interest rate. While this path works well for those that want to limit themselves to the standard products currently on the market, a home loan option that more and more people are considering is an offset mortgage. With these loans consumers offset the value of the loan with another investment, such as savings in a current a account. While offsetting was previously considered a niche product, with Bank of England interest rates currently so low, this product is gaining in popularity with more and more homebuyers. As a result, many lenders are now offering offset home loans that are increasingly competitive and also more affordable for the average homebuyer. This article will discuss what offset home loans are, and what their advantages and disadvantages are.
When consumers take out a standard loan on their property, they typically expect to pay a certain interest rate for the entire sum borrowed. So a 100,000 loan with an APR of five per cent will see the borrower paying 5,000 per year in interest on that loan. Offset loans, however, work a bit differently. With these loans, the borrower can still take out the same 100,000 loan, but he would then offset that loan with whatever savings he has, such as a current account or, in some cases, an Isa. As a result, he will no longer earn interest from his savings, but he will be able to reduce his interest payments on his offset mortgage. For example, that same borrower with a 100,000 loan who offsets it with 25,000 in savings would effectively only pay interest on 75,000 of the loan.
Since current Bank of England interest rates are extremely low, most consumers are making even less than the rate of inflation on the savings they have in their current accounts. In contrast, interest rates on home loans are typically much higher than the Bank of England rate, meaning sacrificing the interest from savings for the sake of paying less in interest rates on a home loan makes financial sense for many people. Additionally, since the interest made on current accounts is taxable, homeowners will effectively be able to avoid paying tax on those savings by using that account to offset a home loan. Finally, in most instances monthly repayments are based on the total value of the loan, meaning that even though that same homeowner is only paying interest on 75,000 of a 100,000 loan, he will still be making repayments based on the full 100,000. As a result, he will in effect be able to pay down his loan faster.
While an offset loan can be a great way to pay less in interest, it is not necessarily for everybody. As with standard home loans, offset loans are available as either fixed-rate or tracker mortgages. The difference, however, is that the interest rates are usually slightly higher for an offset loan than they would be for a standard loan. As a result, an offset loan is likely to work best for those who have a large amount of savings that they want to use as an offset. While many tracker mortgages, and even some fixed-rate loans, will offer attractive rates to begin with, it is important to keep in mind that these are typically introductory offers. Once that introductory period ends consumers could be stuck with an interest rate that is uncompetitive even with a large offset. Also, while consumers will still be able to access their savings, they need to be aware that if they withdraw money from their savings then the amount offset against their loan will likewise decrease. Finally, there are often additional restrictions, such as high minimum deposits and rules stipulating that the account that is being used to offset the loan must be held with the same lending institution that is offering the loan.
While offset home loans are not necessarily for everyone, consumers who have a large or even moderate amount of savings should be aware of them. In the past few years, these loans have become increasingly affordable and are now available to anyone that wants to make sure their money is working a little bit harder.