How Much Can I Borrow for my Mortgage?

How Much Can I Borrow for my Mortgage?

Your income, expenditure and the lenders’ affordability calculations determine the amount you can borrow for a mortgage. However, a recent article from the Daily Mail suggests housing takes up approximately one third of income for the typical UK family. Over the years, the amount Banks have been prepared to lend for mortgages has ebbed and flowed. This can be linked to the market conditions and appetite for risk at that time. There was a time in the mid 2000’s when more than 7 times annual income may have been acceptable. However, it has also been as low as 3 times annual salary in the past. Since the Mortgage Market Review of 2014, it is seldom that they apply this “multiple of salary” rule. The Lenders now look much more deeply into your personal finances before deciding how much you can borrow. Thus, the factors you need to consider are:
  • How much will the lender say I can borrow for my mortgage?
  • How do I know if it’s affordable?
  • What if interest rates go up in the future?

How much will the lender say I can borrow for my mortgage?

As mentioned above, the way lenders calculate your borrowing capacity (affordability) is now generally much more sophisticated. Lenders used to work off simple income multiples of, say 3 times your gross annual salary. However, nowadays they all have affordability calculators which are often quite different from lender to lender. With increasing complexities in the way people are paid, there have been changes in what income lenders do and don’t accept. For example, if you’re in a job where you earn a lot of overtime or bonus or commission, some lenders will take much more of this into account than others; some lenders will take certain benefit income such as child tax or working tax credits into account where others won’t. Similarly, if you’re self-employed or own a limited company, lenders will assess your income in different ways. This can result in the same customer being assessed to have widely varying affordability levels from different lenders. Finally, factors such as the product that you want to take and the term of years you want to borrow the money over can all impact upon the overall affordability. Lenders will also deduct regular outgoings such as personal loan payments, maintenance payments or credit card bills from your salary. Thus, whilst many lenders or brokers will have a “rule of thumb” this is just a quick guideline. Therefore, you should always check with your mortgage broker for more accurate figures based on your specific circumstances.

How do I know if it’s affordable?

Lenders generally aren’t daft. They don’t want to be seen to be lending you more money than you can realistically afford which could put you under unnecessary financial strain. Therefore, if you pass a lender’s affordability calculator that’s a pretty good indicator that you should be OK. That said, we’ve already seen that the assessment of affordability can vary significantly between lenders, so it’s always worth completing your own budget planner to ensure that you have the security of knowing that, whatever the lender may say, you’ve done your own assessment. Remember, owning your own home is not just about paying the mortgage. Factor in associated costs such as council tax, utility bills and any other committed payments such as personal loans or insurance premiums and your regular food and drink bill at the supermarket. Be realistic and include everything that you’ll want to retain in order to maintain your chosen lifestyle. Deduct your other outgoings from your take home monthly pay and, if what you have left is more than enough to meet your mortgage payments, then you should be OK. If it’s not, you have a choice; either make savings or sacrifices from your outgoings in order to help you buy the home you want, or look for something smaller!

What if interest rates go up in the future?

The UK has seen an unprecedented period of interest rate stability in recent times. It is over seven years since the Bank of England has amended its Base Rate but with recent events many people fear the uncertainty that may come with future rate increases. If you complete a budget planner, you should be able to gain some idea of how much you can afford and you could therefore factor in possible increases to ensure your mortgage will be affordable both now and in the future. If you’re in any doubt, the key to future stability can be found in fixed-rate mortgages. As the name implies, the rate you pay, and thus your monthly repayment, is fixed for a defined period of time. Generally speaking, the longer you fix for, the higher the rate (and monthly repayment) is likely to be, but you might consider that to be a price worth paying for the peace of mind it brings.

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