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Buy-to-let mortgages

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Choosing a buy to let mortgage

A buy to let mortgage is a mortgage sold specifically for those who buy property as an investment, rather than getting a mortgage for somewhere you want to live yourself.

Buy to let mortgages work differently to standard residential mortgages, so if you’re choosing to rent out your property lenders will prefer you to finance your purchase with a buy to let mortgage. When you compare buy to let mortgages with MoneySuperMarket, we do the hard work for you. We’ll compare mortgage deals and lenders from across the market so you can find the best buy to let mortgage that suits your needs.


How do buy to let mortgages work?

Buy to let mortgages are a way for existing investors and new landlords to take their first steps into the rental property market. Here’s how buy to let mortgages work:

  • Put down your deposit

    The minimum deposit for a buy to let mortgage is typically higher than a standard, residential mortgage – usually at least 25% of the property’s value (but this can vary between 20-40%)

  • Interest-only payments

    Most borrowers take out an interest-only mortgage for their chosen property – so you’ll pay the interest each month, but not the full capital amount

  • Pay back the full amount

    At the end of the mortgage term you’ll repay the capital debt – the full amount of the mortgage. Often, borrowers might save into an ISA to repay the capital, or may sell the investment property to pay off the debt

How much will my buy to let mortgage cost?

How much your buy to let mortgage will cost you will depend on several factors, the main ones being:

  • Size of your deposit: The bigger deposit you can put down, the smaller the mortgage you'll need to borrow. Lenders will usually ask for 25% of the property’s value, although it can be higher

  • Interest rate: You’ll only pay back the interest each month, not the full capital amount

  • Loan term: You’ll pay back the full cost of the mortgage at the end of the loan term

With a buy to let mortgage, you’ll only usually pay the interest each month, not the full capital amount. But while this might mean your repayments are cheaper each month than a standard residential mortgage, you’ll need to consider how you’ll repay the full cost of your mortgage debt at the end of the loan term.

To get an idea of how much your buy to let mortgage will cost you, our mortgage repayment calculator can be a good place to start. You can work out what your repayments will cost you each month, based on how much you’re borrowing, the interest rate and fees of your mortgage deal and how long you’ll have to pay it off (the term).

Who is eligible for a buy to let mortgage?

While lenders may vary in their eligibility criteria for a buy to let mortgage, most will require the following:

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    Your age

    Most lenders will require you to be 21 or over to apply for a buy to let mortgage and you’ll usually need a good credit score

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    Your income

    Some lenders will require a minimum income for a buy to let mortgage. Usually the minimum you need to be earning is around £25,000, especially if you’re a first-time landlord

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    For a buy to let mortgage, most lenders will ask for a 25% deposit, but this can vary – some lenders may ask for a higher amount, sometimes up to 40%

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    Borrowing history

    Lenders will look at your credit history to check you’re a reliable borrower. If you have a history of poor credit, you may want to improve your score first

How can I get the best deals on buy to let mortgage?

  • Compare from a wider range of deals to find the cheapest rate

    Shopping around can help you find the cheapest interest rate. With MoneySuperMarket, we compare deals from across the market to find the right one for you

  • Keep an eye on your credit score

    Before you apply check your credit report. Your credit rating can have a big impact on what mortgage rate and deal you’ll be offered. Take steps to improve your score

  • Consider what type of mortgage is right for you

    A fixed rate deal can offer you peace of mind, as you’ll know what your monthly repayments will be. But a tracker (variable rate) mortgage could work out cheaper overall

  • Be mindful of fees

    Note any fees attached to the mortgage as these can affect the overall cost. Is there an early repayment charge if you want to leave the deal early?

What to consider before choosing a buy to let mortgage?

Before you go ahead with a buy to let mortgage, there are a few things to consider that may affect your finances, including:

  • Tax implications: There are tax implications for buy to let investors - both on rental income and when you sell. Research and understand your full tax liability

  • Loan term: Your property may not always have tenants, so there may be times when the property is unoccupied and rent isn’t paid. You’ll need a financial back-up for any such ‘void periods’ so you can continue to repay your mortgage


How to compare buy-to-let mortgages

Find the best deal on buy-to-let properties with MoneySuperMarket:

  • It doesn’t take long:

    You provide us with a few details aboutyou, your financial circumstances andthe property you want

  • We search for mortgages

    We do the hard work of findingthe best mortgage deals andlenders to meet your specific needs

  • Continue to broker

    Once you’ve found the rightprovider, you can click throughand make your full application

Unlike most residential mortgages, buy-to-let mortgages are commonly offered on an interest-only basis. This means that your monthly payments will only cover the interest on your mortgage. Your capital debt – the money you’ve borrowed – will not go down unless you choose to make extra payments or take out a repayment mortgage.

You will need to pay the capital debt off in full at the end of your term. You could do this by selling the property, or you could keep the property and take out another mortgage.

A buy-to-let mortgage normally requires a larger deposit than a residential mortgage. You may face larger upfront fees and pay a higher rate of interest. You will have to pay more stamp duty for a second property that is not your main home. Some buy-to-let investors choose to set themselves up as limited companies for taxation purposes. 

Most lenders will require you to put down a larger deposit for a buy-to-let mortgage. This is usually around 25% of the property’s value, but your mortgage may require a deposit as large as 40%.

You need a larger deposit for a buy-to-let mortgage because it protects the lender in the event that you default on your payments, which usually happens as a result of problems with collecting rent.

The average value for a buy-to-let property in January 2020 was £165,247, compared with an average of £274,773 for residential home movers, according to MoneySuperMarket mortgage search data. This suggests prospective landlords are looking for less expensive properties where rental values provide a reasonable rate of return.

The interest rate you pay on your buy-to-let mortgage will depend on the total amount you borrow, your general financial situation, how much rental income you’re expecting to get, and the type of mortgage you choose to take out.

If you are planning on buying a property to let out, there will be other fees that you may need to factor into your budgeting when deciding whether or not you can afford a mortgage.

These include the following:

  • Stamp duty, surveyors’ fees and other charges when buying

  • Tax on rental income

  • Building and landlords’ insurance

  • Rent insurance (optional)

  • Letting agents’ fees, if you choose to use them

  • Maintenance and repairs for the property, or possibly ground rent

It’s worth investigating landlord regulations and landlord responsibilities to find out more about the costs involved in buying a property to let.

Because you only pay interest on a buy-to-let deal, you’ll need to repay the full value of your mortgage at the end of your term. You may be able to extend your mortgage, or you might decide to sell the property.

If you choose to sell, you’ll be able to make a further profit if house prices have risen since you took out your mortgage. However, if house prices fall you’ll still need to pay off the rest of the mortgage yourself.

How many buy to let mortgages you can have will depend on your mortgage provider and how much they’re willing to lend to you. Some providers may only allow you to take out one or two buy to let mortgages, while others may allow you to take out as many mortgages as you want to, as long as you have the deposits and the rental income to cover the costs. 

If you currently have a residential mortgage but want to change to a buy to let mortgage, you’ll need your lender’s approval. Before you rush into a decision, you’ll need to weigh up if a buy to let mortgage is the right option for you as they differ from residential mortgages. You may also want to consider switching lenders, as by sticking with your current lender you’ll only be shown their own current mortgage rates. Comparing mortgages with MoneySuperMarket will show you mortgage deals from across the market, to find the best mortgage for your needs.

Other mortgage types to consider

Other mortgage types you might want to consider if you’re looking to remortgage include:

  • Capped rate mortgage: a capped rate mortgage is a variable rate mortgage, but there is a limit to how high the rate can go. This can be useful if you want a variable rate mortgage, but also want to avoid unaffordable payments if the rate rises.

  • Discounted mortgage: a discounted mortgage is another type of variable rate mortgage which offers a discounted rate on the lender’s SVR for a certain period of time.

  • Offset mortgage: an offset mortgage helps to reduce the overall interest you pay by offsetting your savings against the outstanding balance of your mortgage. But this does mean you won’t be gaining any interest on your savings during the deal.

Fixed rate mortgages have an interest rate that stays the same for a set period. This could be anything from two to 10 years. Your repayments are the same every month and you don't need to fear fluctuations in interest rates. Most will charge you a penalty - known as an early repayment charge (ERC) - if you choose to leave the deal before the end of the fixed term.

Interest rates adjust periodically with a variable rate mortgage, which means repayments may change throughout the loan term. Usually, the interest rate changes in relation to another rate - the Bank of England's base rate is very influential on variable interest rates, as is the base rate of each lender.

For standard variable rate (SVR) mortgages, each lender has an SVR that they can move when they like. In reality, this tends to roughly follow the Bank of England's base rate movements. SVRs can be anything from two to five percentage points above the base rate – or higher – and they can vary massively between lenders.

The other type of variable mortgage is a discount mortgage. Rather than being linked to the Bank of England base rate, discounts are linked to the lender's standard variable rate (SVR). For example, if the SVR is 4.50% with a discount of 1%, the payable mortgage rate is 3.50%. If the SVR rose to 5.50%, the pay rate would rise to 4.50%.

The problem with discounts is that SVR changes are at the lender's discretion so your mortgage payments could change even if there has been no alteration in the Bank of England base rate. What's more, even if the SVR changes following a move in the base rate, there is no guarantee that it will increase or decrease by the same amount.

As a result, trackers are usually seen as more transparent than discounted deals and are often seen as being fairer for the borrower.

When the base rate fell from 5.00% to 0.50% between October 2008 and March 2009, for example, Lloyds TSB was the only top 20 lender to reduce its SVR by the full 4.50%. All the others cut their rates by less.

When the Bank of England raised the base rate from 0.25% to 0.5% in November 2017, anyone who wasn’t on a fixed rate mortgage was at risk of seeing their repayments increase. A number of leading mortgage lenders followed and increased their tracker and/or SVR rates a month later.

Most mortgage deals carry arrangement fees, which can vary from a few hundred pounds up to a couple of thousand.

Also bear in mind that these set up costs can sometimes be made up of two fees. An increasing number of lenders charge a non-refundable booking fee, which is effectively a product reservation fee. If your house purchase falls through and you don’t end up taking the mortgage deal, you won’t get this fee back.

The second type of fee is an arrangement fee which you pay on completion of the mortgage so you won't have to pay it if, for any reason, you don't take the mortgage.

Calculate how early you could pay off your mortgage. But make sure you read our mortgage overpayment guide first, as overpaying isn’t the right move for all homeowners.

Mortgage overpayment calculator

Remember to always factor these into the overall cost of any deal. Even if a lender is offering a seemingly unbeatable rate, steep fees could mean that it actually works out to be more cost-effective to opt for a higher rate, but with a much lower fee, or no fee at all.

The best mortgage rate for you depends on how much you are looking to borrow. A high fee is often worth paying in order to secure a low interest rate if you are applying for a large mortgage. But those with smaller mortgages could be better off opting for a higher rate and lower fee.

However, while this is the general rule, it is well worth crunching the numbers when you are comparing mortgages - you need to work out the total cost over the term of the deal. For example, if you are going for a two-year fix you need to work out the cost of your repayments over the term. You can do this by finding out what the monthly payment will be using our mortgage calculator – and then multiply by 24. You then need to add on the arrangement fee to find out the total cost.

You will likely find that you have more mortgage deals available to choose from if you have a good credit history, so it’s worth making sure that your credit report is as good as it can be before applying for a mortgage. Steps like paying off any outstanding borrowed credit you owe and making sure your current address is on the electoral role can help to improve your credit score.

The more money you can save as a deposit, the less you’ll need to borrow as a mortgage loan – and having a bigger deposit can help you get access to more competitive mortgage rates. Lenders will often have a maximum loan to value they’re prepared to offer you, and the rest will need to be made up with either a deposit or an equity loan like the government’s Help to Buy equity loan scheme.

Using a mortgage comparison tool can help to give you a better idea of how much you’d need to pay in monthly costs and interest, the duration of the deal, the maximum LTV and any product fees you may need to pay for the mortgage deals available based on your borrowing requirements. It’s important to remember though that the actual mortgage deals you’re offered when you go to make an application may differ because they will then be influenced by your financial situation and credit history.

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