Interest rates stay the same – what does this mean for you?

Interest rates stay the same – what does this mean for you?

Last week all eyes were on the Bank of England (BoE) as the financial world and all of those involved in the property market waited to see if the Bank's base rate would be lowered.

In the end, it was all a bit of a fuss over nothing as the BoE's monetary policy committee (MPC) decided that the base rate would remain at 0.5% for the time being.

Speculation was rife that the rate would be halved to 0.25% in order to give the UK economy a boost following last month's shock Brexit vote.

The Bank of England's base rate has now been at 0.5% for over seven years, after it was lowered in the wake of the global financial crisis.

 

What does this mean for buyers and sellers?

Well, for those with a fixed mortgage it doesn't really change anything. And, as the rate has stayed the same, for those with a variable mortgage nothing has changed either.

However, as explored below, rates are likely to fall and rise again over the next few years so those with a variable rate will need to stay on the ball.

Many experts are advising borrowers to take 3-5 year fixed agreements due to the uncertainty surrounding Britain's exit from the European Union.

For those saving to purchase a property, this news will be seen as a further disappointment – although a better result than rates being slashed.

The Telegraph reports that the last six months have been particularly torrid for savers, with over 900 rate cuts made by banks since the turn of the year.

A blow for first-time buyers, some of the biggest rate cuts have been to Help to Buy ISAs, with Halifax cutting its rate from 4% to 2.5% in May, for example.

 

Reaction

Steve Griffiths, Head of Sales and Distribution at Kensington Mortgages:

“It’s no surprise that the base rate continues to remain at its historic low level this month, given the current uncertainty in the financial markets.”

“It’s likely that this uncertainty will continue to linger over the coming weeks and months, and we could even see rates fall further."

 

Andrew Sentance, senior economic adviser, PricewaterhouseCooper:

“The MPC has taken a very sensible decision to keep interest rates on hold. Though political events have been fast moving, there is a need for stable economic policy until we are clearer how the economy is performing in the wake of the EU referendum result.”

“That will not be clear until the autumn, and the MPC should hold fire until then. The MPC still won’t have enough information in August to make a proper assessment of the post-Brexit economic situation.”

 

Looking ahead

The base rate may be the same for the time being, but that doesn't mean it's not likely to change in the near future.

Many industry commentators now believe the BoE will lower the base rate in August, once the impact and future of Brexit is slightly more clear.

Before the unexpected referendum result, it was widely believed that interest rates would rise by the end of 2016 or in early 2017 – an indicator of economic stability.

Although the base rate may be lowered in the meantime, homeowners have been warned to prepare for future rises.

The Bank's governor, Mark Carney, recently told MPs that homeowners should be prepared to cope with an interest rate rise of up to 3%.

He noted that people with mortgages should ensure they have enough 'headroom' to deal with future rises and that many mortgage lenders have already factored in this sort of criteria before granting borrowers access to funds.