Mortgage affordability for debtors who re-fixed in 2023 – Financial institution Underground

Daniel Norris, Elio Cucullo and Vasilis Jacovides

When debtors enter a fixed-rate mortgage, lenders take a look at whether or not they might proceed to afford their mortgage if rates of interest had been to extend by the point it involves re-fix. This ‘stressing’ is designed to create extra resilience for debtors and the monetary system. During the last two years, mortgage charges have elevated by over 4 proportion factors, elevating the price of repayments for these re-fixing. We have a look at UK mortgage information and examine the stress charges utilized at origination to charges out there to debtors when re-fixing. We discover that the overwhelming majority of debtors who got here to the tip of their mounted phrases in 2023 confronted new mortgage charges which had been decrease than these that they had been ‘careworn’ at.

Which means whereas these debtors will nonetheless really feel the squeeze of upper rates of interest, their mortgage repayments usually are not as excessive as underneath the careworn situation they had been examined in opposition to. We discover that this ‘headroom’ would stay for almost all of debtors even on the peak stage mortgage charges reached in 2023.  

You will need to flag upfront that there isn’t any direct consequence of getting no stress fee ‘headroom’ eg it doesn’t indicate that debtors would default or face no prospect of re-fixing; however there’s much less certainty about affordability. Likewise, having some ‘headroom’ doesn’t assure {that a} borrower can afford the next mortgage fee. Moreover, the stress fee solely accounts for one factor of general mortgage affordability. Will increase in revenue enhance affordability, whereas price of residing pressures squeeze affordability.

Debtors are ‘careworn’ after they enter a mortgage

When making use of for a mortgage, potential debtors are topic to an evaluation that checks whether or not they would be capable to meet their present and future mortgage funds in the event that they had been confronted with greater rates of interest sooner or later.

Most mortgages within the UK have a set fee for a time frame, usually two to 5 years. As soon as this era involves an finish, debtors usually re-fix; nonetheless the speed out there at this level could also be totally different to their earlier one. And this could have a huge impact on month-to-month funds – a 3 proportion level fee improve on a £300k mortgage would set debtors again by a further ~£500 monthly. So lenders ‘stress’ upfront whether or not debtors would be capable to proceed to afford their mortgages if charges had been to rise by the point they should re-fix. The scale of the ‘stress fee’ utilized by lenders is usually decided by their prevailing Commonplace Variable Charge (SVR) and a ‘stress buffer’ that’s added on prime of this, which is topic to a minimal stage set by regulators. SVRs have a tendency to maneuver in keeping with modifications to the Financial institution Charge.

Evaluating common stress charges to mortgage charges

Mortgage charges have elevated considerably over the past two years. The theoretical ‘stressing’ of debtors’ capability to afford their mortgages is now being examined in observe. Have been debtors coming to the tip of their mounted phrases over the past two years examined on the charges they confronted to re-fix?

Chart 1 exhibits the common stress fee (orange line) throughout all mortgages coming to the tip of their mounted time period over 2022–23, for instance five-year fixes originated in 2017–18 and two-year fixes in 2020–21. The commonest merchandise in our pattern are two-year fixes. The common stress fee is constructed primarily based on regulatory information submitted by lenders on the stress fee they utilized on every mortgage. The common stress fee is comparatively steady throughout the interval as a result of on the level of origination SVRs had been low and steady. Common stress fee is plotted alongside the brand new mortgage fee out there (white line) for a person re-fixing with a two-year fixed-rate mortgage. The brand new mortgage fee is constructed primarily based on the common mortgage charges on supply at a spread of mortgage to worth ranges (from 60% to 95%) throughout lenders. The hole between the common stress fee and the brand new mortgage fee is the ‘headroom’.

Chart 1: Common stress fee versus new mortgage fee

Sources: FCA Product Gross sales Knowledge and Financial institution of England calculations.

Will increase in mortgage charges since January 2022 imply that, on common, there’s much less ‘headroom’ between the charges debtors had been careworn at and the charges they confronted when exiting their mounted offers. Nevertheless, this ‘headroom’ has not been fully depleted. This means that ‘stress charges’ utilized have been efficient on common in testing that debtors might afford the brand new greater charges they confronted on the level of re-fixing. When debtors re-fix with out a rise within the underlying principal, they don’t seem to be topic to an extra affordability take a look at.

At greater mortgage charges the ‘headroom’ is smaller (and vice versa). The brand new mortgage fee relies on the common two-year mounted fee, which throughout 2023 was greater than the common five-year mounted fee, that means the ‘stress fee headroom’ could be greater if somebody was taking out a five-year deal. If clients don’t re-fix they revert to lenders’ SVRs, that are greater than prevailing mounted time period charges, that means the ‘headroom’ could be decrease.

Distribution of debtors throughout stress charges

Whereas on common we discover a optimistic ‘headroom’, issues might be totally different for particular person debtors. Chart 2 exhibits the distribution of mounted mortgages coming to the tip of their time period in 2023, grouped by stress fee and highlights the proportion (purple bar) that had been careworn under the common two-year mounted fee over 2023 (5.62%).

Chart 2: Stress charges for fixed-rate mortgages reaching maturity in 2023

Sources: FCA Product Gross sales Knowledge and Financial institution of England calculations.

Notice: The primary bar captures all stress charges under the common two-year mounted mortgage fee over 2023 (5.62%). To coincide with the common mortgage fee, the second bar has a barely greater vary than different bars. The final bar captures all stress charges above 7.50%.

Our evaluation means that, regardless of the numerous improve in mortgage charges, solely 4.30% of all fixed-rate mortgages reaching maturity in 2023 had been examined at a stress fee decrease than the common two-year mounted mortgage fee over 2023 (5.62%). The vast majority of debtors would nonetheless have had some ‘headroom’ at mortgage charges of 6.50%, which was the very best level mortgage charges reached in 2023. As proven in Chart 2, stress charges for debtors exiting their fixed-rate intervals in 2023 are concentrated between 6.50% and seven.25%, so at mortgage charges above that stage, the variety of debtors with out the ‘headroom’ supplied by the affordability take a look at would have elevated considerably.


The rate of interest debtors pay on their mortgage is a key factor of affordability, albeit not the one one. In our evaluation, we discover that the ‘stress’ evaluation carried out by lenders at origination will typically have subjected debtors coming to the tip of their fixed-rate phrases in 2023 to greater stress charges than the prevailing mortgage charges when re-fixing.

The broader implications of our evaluation on the housing market are exhausting to disentangle, given the a number of elements at play; one potential implication is that ‘stressing’ is more likely to have helped restrict any pressured gross sales from affordability pressures. General, our put up highlights the essential and never extensively acknowledged affect that ‘stressing’ could have had in supporting the resilience of particular person debtors and the general market.

Daniel Norris, Elio Cucullo and Vasilis Jacovides work within the Financial institution’s Prudential Framework Division.

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