Guide to Understanding UK Offset Mortgages

With a vast mortgage framework, it's little surprise that many applicants find offset mortgages confusing! Here we break it down, so you know all the pros and cons and can choose the ideal mortgage product best suited to your financial circumstances.

Guide to Understanding UK Offset Mortgages

Offset mortgages are a mortgage product that we often receive enquiries about. Revolution clients contact us looking for price comparisons, and to understand the pros and cons of an alternative borrowing option, to work out whether it offers a great deal!

Here we'll run through how offset mortgages work, and who they are best suited to. For more information or personal advice about applying for an offset mortgage in the UK, give us a call on 0330 304 3040, or email the team at info@revolutionbrokers.co.uk.

What are Offset Mortgages and How Do They Work?

Offset mortgages link to your savings accounts and offset the amount you have outstanding on your mortgage borrowing against your savings with the same bank.

You pay interest on the net balance of debt, therefore reducing the interest you pay, but also sacrificing any interest you might have earned on the savings.

As an illustration:

  • You owe £100,000 on your mortgage and have £10,000 in cash savings.
  • If you use an offset mortgage, you pay interest on the £90,000 net balance.
  • On a 3% interest rate, that means an annual saving of £300.

To calculate the actual cost of an offset mortgage, you also need to account for the 'lost' interest earnings on your savings account.

However, average interest earnings stand at around 1.5%. So in this example, you sacrifice the £150 interest income, and therefore make an overall saving of £150 on the cost of your mortgage per annum.

What Sort of Bank Accounts Can I Offset Against my Mortgage?

Savings accounts are the primary type of asset used as an offset, but some lenders will also allow you to offset multiple accounts, including your current account.

If you have savings and cash balances in several accounts, that means you can further reduce the interest cost of your home loan.

In some cases, you can also offset with a cash ISA - although this depends on the policies of the lender. Many mortgage providers with offset products will not permit fixed-term ISA offsets.

Remember that any account you offset will not earn any interest income.

Products such as stocks and shares cannot be used as a mortgage offset.

Can Family Members Use My Savings as an Offset?

They can - and this is ideal for first-time buyers, or lower-income family members, who have a close relative with substantial savings.

Lenders who offer a family offset mortgage will allow you to offset your mortgage borrowing against a savings account held by your family member.

What are the Advantages of Using an Offset Mortgage?

There are pros and cons to taking out an offset mortgage, and it is essential to understand these before you proceed with any applications:

  • You can use an offset mortgage to 'earn' more against your savings than you would have on regular savings interest when inflation is rising, or the interest rates earned are low.
  • Offset mortgages help to reduce the monthly interest charge on a mortgage and are popular with self-employed people looking to reduce their outgoings to provide for taxation liabilities.
  • In most cases, you can opt to continue with a higher mortgage repayment, at the same level you were paying before the offset. This option means making overpayments that reduce your overall mortgage debt and mean you can pay it back faster.
  • Some lenders will offer the option to withdraw overpayments if you need to - which can provide a fast cash boost when you need capital, or be retained in the mortgage to allow you to miss some repayments.
  • Linking multiple accounts and current accounts can reduce your mortgage interest further.
  • Family offset mortgages can assist first-time buyers with purchasing a property at an affordable interest rate.
  • You still have access to your savings accounts - although the reduction in the balance will be reflected in your mortgage interest calculations. Some lenders stipulate that a minimum balance must be left in situ.

Are there Disadvantages to Offset Mortgages?

As well as several plus points, there are pitfalls to this type of borrowing product to be aware of:

  • Interest rates are usually higher than on other mortgage products.
  • Offset mortgages mean sacrificing the interest you would have earned on your savings (although mortgage interest charges are usually higher than the interest earned).
  • If you have a low savings value, an offset mortgage may not be the most cost-effective option given the higher interest rates.
  • Most lenders require a higher deposit, with lower Loan to Value ratio caps.

How Do my Savings Help Reduce my Mortgage Payments?

Offset mortgages are available from a variety of different lenders, from banks and building societies to specialist lenders.

Not all lenders have an offset mortgage product, so the first step is to identify a shortlist of potential lenders, and to establish whether you meet their eligibility criteria.

Another route is to remortgage from a standard product to a repayment product, with your existing bank or with a new lender.

Your savings and current accounts being used as the offset need to be with the same lender as your mortgage, so it may be necessary to switch these accounts over if you choose to move to a different provider.

What are the Typical Criteria for an Offset Mortgage?

Each lender will have different policies about whom they will lend to - the standard criteria, and the typical requirements are as below.

  • Income - lenders need to know how stable your employment is, and what your work situation is. Most mortgages can be to a maximum value of 4.5 times your annual income. In some cases, this is increased to five or even six times.
  • Property - if the property is non-standard, i.e. it is built from something other than bricks and mortar, or has a thatched roof; you usually need to apply to a specialist lender with experience in lending against non-standard homes.
  • Credit rating - lenders will always need to run a credit report, and if you have adverse credit issues, it may be advisable to apply to a specialist bad credit lender.
  • Age - some lenders set a maximum of 75 or 85 years old, whereas others have no maximum.
  • Expenses - your affordability calculation will take into account other debts and outgoings, to ensure your net income can comfortably cover the mortgage repayments.
  • Deposit - offset mortgages generally require a higher deposit. Lenders will review what value deposit you have available, and from where those funds are being sourced.

Also, your savings account(s) and current account(s) need to be with the same provider as the mortgage.

What Deposit is Required for a UK Offset Mortgage?

Typical residential mortgages are available with as little as a 5% deposit, depending on your circumstances and the lender.

For offset mortgages, the deposit is usually much higher with around 25% as the average, given that the LTV maximum is higher.

In some cases, you can take out an offset mortgage for 80% or even 90% of the property value, but that is unusual and is often only when you are an existing mortgage customer of the bank and are switching from one mortgage product to another.

Is it Possible to Get an Offset Mortgage at 100% LTV?

It is highly unusual to get an offset mortgage at 100% of the property value.

An alternative where you are keen on an offset mortgage and do not have the requisite deposit is to consider a guarantor mortgage. This product means having an immediate family member - or in some cases, a close friend - offer their savings assets as collateral, by placing them in an account with the mortgage lender.

Is There a Limit to How Many Accounts I Can Link to an Offset Mortgage?

It all depends on the lender. Some accept current accounts and joint accounts, as well as savings accounts held with them.

Is There a Minimum Term on an Offset Mortgage?

Most offset mortgages run on similar terms as any other residential mortgage, so usually around 25 years.

You can choose to make over-payments if permitted by your lender, which can reduce your debt balance, and shorten how long it will take to pay back the borrowing.

It is essential to check whether your lender will levy early repayment charges if you are considering doing this.

Are there Offset Mortgages for Business Professionals?

There are; offset mortgages are ideal for business people that have substantial savings. There are also specific offset mortgage products aimed at professionals, such as accountants, dentists, engineers, doctors, pharmacists, teachers and vets.

Are My Savings at Risk if Offset Against my Mortgage?

Under the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme), any savings are protected up to the value of £85,000, so even if your lender went into administration, your assets would be protected.

If you have over £85,000 in savings, give us a call for advice about protecting your savings.

Is There a Maximum I Can Borrow Through an Offset Mortgage?

There isn't a specific maximum, and you can get a large offset mortgage.

The deposit payable and LTV maximums will still apply, and you will need to comply with all the eligibility requirements to take out a higher value loan.

Expert Advice with UK Offset Mortgages

Revolution Brokers work with a vast number of offset mortgage lenders and provide independent advice to ensure you take out the most competitive borrowing on the market.

Give us a call on 0330 304 3040, or drop a message to info@revolutionbrokers.co.uk for more information about offset mortgages, and to find out which lenders are ideally suited to you.

Why Revolution Brokers?
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FAQs

How does our broker-matching service work?

You can indeed; offset mortgages are not time-limited, so the biggest challenge is in finding a lender who offers this product, along with competitive rates.

The best option is always to use a whole-of-market broker rather than going straight to your usual bank, as there are a vast number of deals on the market, and the cheapest may not be the first one you come across.

Offset mortgages mean that you pay interest on the net balance of your borrowings; reduced by whatever savings you have in linked savings or current accounts.

The deposit requirements tend to be higher, and the interest rates steeper.

This name isn't a particular type of product but is an offset mortgage when you can decide whether to withdraw from your savings and potentially also from any overpayments you might have made.

More flexible mortgage terms usually carry a higher rate of interest.

Again, this isn't a different product but means that your lender offers a fixed rate of interest on your offset mortgage.

Offset mortgages can be fixed-rate, or tracker rate like any other home loan, although the interest payment will vary depending on the net balance outstanding.

You can. Some lenders offer commercial offset mortgages, where you can take out a business mortgage and offset the interest against your company accounts. You'll usually need to transfer any savings or current accounts to the same bank as you are taking out the offset mortgage with.

It is unusual to be able to take out a residential mortgage offset against commercial savings - but give us a call if this is an option for you, and Revolution will recommend the best options.

Pension funds are rarely used to offset a mortgage since the lender will usually only consider bank accounts or savings assets that they hold on your behalf.

An alternative is to look at an over 65s offset mortgage.

Like any home loan, you'll need to pay arrangement fees and solicitors costs as the usual charges associated with taking out a new mortgage.

There are some offset mortgages with low costs, or with low arrangement fees - Revolution Brokers can advise on the best offset mortgage products.

While there isn't a rule banning the use of Help to Buy in taking out an offset mortgage, it would be very unusual since you need to have substantial savings to make an offset mortgage the most competitive product.

There are many different mortgages available to first-time buyers, so your best option is to seek independent advice from a whole-of-market broker to work out which types of mortgage are best suited to your circumstances.

They are, yes. If you're a freelancer or contractor, you can apply for an offset mortgage, but it is vital to work with a lender with experience in lending to self-employed people.

The mortgage product itself is no different, but you need to consider how lenders calculate the maximum mortgage they will lend you since this all depends on which parts of your self-employed income they permit as part of the affordability assessment.

Yes - if you want to buy a second property and reduce your interest costs by offsetting against your savings, you can.

Remember that the Loan to Value caps are reasonably low, so you will still need to have a deposit available. This product type is usually available to applicants who have a clear credit file.

Mortgages for expats tend to be specialist products, and not available from mainstream lenders.

If you're looking for an offset mortgage and live overseas, give us a call on 0330 304 3040, and the Revolution team will guide you through the best options for your circumstances.

Offset mortgages reduce your mortgage interest rate, and so do not offer any tax efficiency.

However, you do pay tax on savings interest earned, over a specific threshold, so you can reduce your tax obligations by using your savings to offset a mortgage, rather than earning interest and paying tax on that income.

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The content included in our articles, blogs, web pages and news publications is based on information accurate at the time of writing. Note that policies and criteria can change regularly throughout the UK mortgage lending market, and it remains essential to contact the consultation team to receive up to date guidance. The information included on the Revolution Brokers site is not bespoke to any circumstances or individual application scenarios and therefore is not intended to be used as financial advice. The content we share is designed to be informative and helpful but cannot be relied upon to provide individual advice relevant to your mortgage requirements. All Revolution team members are fully qualified, trained and experienced to provide mortgage advice of an independent nature. We collaborate with lenders and providers who are regulated, authorised and registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Should you require specific mortgage borrowing types, some products such as buy to let mortgages may not be FCA regulated. The Revolution team can provide further information about regulated and unregulated lending as required. Please remember that a mortgage is a debt which is secured against your home or property. Your home can be at risk of repossession if you do not keep up with the repayments or encounter any other difficulties in managing your mortgage borrowing responsibly. This also applies to any remortgage or home loan secured against your property, including equity release products.

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