On Thursday 2 May 2019, the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee announced its decision to hold interest rates at 0.75%.

This came as no surprise, but comments from Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, have suggested that changes to interest rates could be on their way.

Carney said in a news conference following the publication of the Bank's inflation report that if the forecasts are right, there may be "more, and more frequent interest rate increases, than the market currently expects".

While this is good news for savers, it could mean an increase to mortgage repayments for the estimated 3.5 million homeowners in the UK with a variable-rate mortgage.

The prospect of rising interest rates might prompt some of those people to consider fixing their mortgage, effectively shielding it from future rate rises.

How have interest rates changed over time?

The interest rate set by the Bank of England has been low since the financial crisis in 2008, but it's started to show signs of recovery in the last couple of years.

The Bank raised the rate from 0.25% to 0.5% in November 2017, then to 0.75% in August 2018.

Although these look like small increases, they could add up to hundreds of extra pounds in interest for people on certain mortgages.

Would a rate rise affect your mortgage?

Any future interest rate rises will affect your mortgage repayments if you have a variable-rate mortgage, as the rate you pay rises and falls along with interest rates.

If you have a fixed-rate mortgage, however, your repayments remain the same for a set period of time, and are based on the interest rate at the time you take out the product.

As a result, variable-rate mortgages can be a good option while interest rates are low, but if they look set to rise, it may be worth switching to a fixed rate.

What about Brexit?

Carney's warning might suggest rate rises are imminent, but it comes with a significant caveat - it's based on the economy performing the way the Bank expects.

That's something nobody can be certain about, especially with the UK's exit from the EU still unresolved.

The inflation report says its forecasts are based on the assumption of a "smooth Brexit, where households and businesses have time to adjust to the new relationship between the UK and the EU".

The Bank also maintained its stance that any future rises to interest rates should be "gradual and limited", so you're unlikely to see a sudden surge in your mortgage repayments.

Other things to consider

The future of Brexit and interest rates isn't the only thing you should take into account if you're thinking about changing your mortgage.

You should also consider your plans for the next few years, such as moving house or paying off your mortgage early, as switching your mortgage often comes with arrangement fees that could outweigh any savings you make.

It's also worth thinking about how important it is to you, on a personal level and financially, that you have a sense of certainty about what each of your mortgage repayments will cost.

Most importantly, don't panic and rush into any decisions about your mortgage based on current interest rate predictions.

It's best to consider all of your options before making any changes to your mortgage, and seek professional advice first.

Get in touch to talk about your property.

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