Interest-only mortgages: increasingly a niche product but there are options


We have been inundated with requests from borrowers in the past few weeks for interest-only mortgages, as mainstream lenders further tighten their criteria. A couple of months ago I penned a blog on interest only and now seems a good time to update it, as there have been significant changes by some lenders.

Coventry Building Society is the latest lender to pull the plug on interest only for new borrowers. RBS and NatWest recently announced that they would no longer off interest only to new borrowers, while Nationwide and the Co-operative Bank have introduced similar restrictions.

Interest only is turning into a niche product. It may still be possible to borrow on interest-only terms via the high-street banks but much trickier than in the past. The majority of borrowers who need interest only will now have to look at the private banks – if they meet their criteria. Clients must be wealthy or on track to become wealthy at some point.

As long as a client has a considered repayment strategy in place that they can comfortably meet, interest only is arguably no riskier than a repayment mortgage. If the borrower has a remuneration structure which has a significant element paid in annual bonuses or stock and share allocations, or there is a realistic and viable anticipation of a future capital event, or they will sell a property to pay off the capital, then I would argue that they should be able to borrow on an interest-only basis.

For example, if a client who relies heavily on bonuses for a significant proportion – perhaps the majority – of his income, can’t borrow against all of it, he will be severely penalised. A high-street lender may lend against no more than 50 per cent of the bonus, meaning a large and valid part of the borrower’s annual income would be ignored. If the client earns £100,000 basic and £200,000 bonus, he might be able to borrow four times income or £800,000, if all his base salary were taken into account and half his bonus. But there is an annual £100,000 that is not being considered.

In theory, this forgotten £100,000 per annum could enable him to pay off the mortgage in eight to ten years. What would be the point of a capital and interest mortgage over 25 years? Luckily for this client, he may qualify for private banking and therefore get his interest-only loan. Not everyone will be so lucky.

Contact Anderson  Harris to discuss your interest-only requirements.

Jonathan Harris
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Jonathan Harris