Mistakes to Avoid when Paying off Your Mortgage Early

illustration of Mistakes to Avoid when Paying off Your Mortgage Early

What do I need to watch out for when paying off my mortgage early?

The idea of being mortgage-free is pretty tempting. If you’re lucky enough to be in a position to pay yours off, you might be considering clearing the debt to own your home sooner. By making your overall mortgage term shorter, you’ll end up cutting down on interest fees that you would have paid otherwise. 

Once you pay off your mortgage in full, you won’t owe your lender any more money. The bank removes its security over your home, and then you own the property outright. Result! 

But as with most things in the mortgage world, it’s not always that simple. There’s a few things to consider when paying off your mortgage early. Below are the most common mistakes you can make:

Mistake #1: You haven’t looked at all your options

If you’ve got some extra cash, it might be tempting to put everything towards repaying your mortgage. But in some cases, it might make more financial sense to stick to your monthly mortgage payments. 

Let’s say you wanted to chuck £20,000 at your mortgage. You originally borrowed £200,000, and you’ve got 10 years left of your 30-year term. You’re currently paying an interest rate of 4%. Paying £20,000 in one go could save you £8,300 in interest, and shave 2.5 years off your mortgage term. 

Sounds good, right? But what if you could make that money work harder for you? You could put that money into an investment fund (let’s say the rate of return is a nice 9.8%), then you could actually earn £30,900 in interest over those same 10 years. Meaning you’ve got even more money to put towards other things. 

Everyone’s financial situation is different, and the idea of being debt-free might be much more appealing to you than longer-term investments. Whatever you choose, just make sure you’ve weighed up all the options before going ahead. A mortgage advisor can help you do this.

Mistake #2: Your overpayments are only going on interest

If you have the option to overpay on your mortgage, then you might be thinking about throwing in an extra £500 or £1,000 each month. But unless you tell your lender HOW you want this money used, you might not be paying your mortgage off any quicker. 

When overpaying on your mortgage, you need to state that the additional money needs to go towards your loan balance, NOT the interest. If you don’t make this clear, your lender might put your extra cash towards the interest instead. 

Mistake #3: You’re stretching yourself financially

Throwing all excess cash at your mortgage is an aggressive way to get out of debt. It’s great to be clearing debts faster, but you’re not leaving yourself much security if things go wrong. 

It might be worth putting some money into a rainy day fund (e.g. in case you fell ill and couldn’t work for a few months). Then once you’ve got a little bit put aside you can focus on paying off your mortgage. 

Mistake #4: You haven’t considered early repayment charges

What you need to remember is: mortgage lenders make money by charging interest on your loan. So when you pay your mortgage early, they’re basically missing out on money they would have made on that interest. This is why some lenders will charge you for early repayments. 

Early repayment charges are usually a percentage of your loan, or equivalent to a certain number of monthly payments. These charges can be pretty hefty. For example, a 3% charge on a £250,000 mortgage would cost you £7,500. Ouch. 

Don’t lose money trying to save money! Check with your lender to see if you’ll have to pay a charge before you overpay. 

How can I pay off my mortgage faster?

There’s four main ways you can speed up owning your house outright:

Shorten your mortgage term

Making your mortgage term shorter actually means you’ll be paying more each month. However, by paying it off sooner, you could save thousands in interest fees and become debt-free sooner. You’ll just need to make sure you won’t struggle with higher monthly repayments. 

Overpay

Overpaying your mortgage is when you pay more than the required amount each month. You can shave off a lot of interest by doing this, and help clear your debt faster. 

Most mortgages will allow you to make overpayments of up to 10% per year, but you MUST check your mortgage details to make sure. Not all mortgages will allow you to overpay, so check with your lender otherwise you might get charged. 

When overpaying, remember to tell your lender that you specifically want the extra cash to go towards your loan balance, and not the interest. If you don’t do this, you won’t be clearing the debt any faster. 

Remortgage

Remortgaging is a great opportunity to get yourself a better deal. You can snag a better interest rate, or bring your mortgage term down to become debt-free faster. 

It can be a great way to save you money, but it also costs time, fees and paperwork. So make sure to weigh up your options first. Read our Guide to Remortgaging.

Is it a good idea to pay off my mortgage early?

Whether you should pay off your mortgage early will depend on your unique situation. While it can be a really good thing to do if you’re lucky enough to be in that position, there are a few times where it might make sense to do something else with your money. 

Paying off your mortgage involves a huge sum of money, which will take cash away from other areas of your life. Before putting everything towards your mortgage, think about whether there’s other debts you should be prioritising.

Mortgage debt is probably the cheapest debt you’ll have. So paying off any credit cards or loans with much higher rates first makes much more sense. 

It might also be a safer option to hold on to your savings in case you run into trouble further down the line. If you fell ill or had to look after a family member, having those savings as a safety net could make all the difference.

It’s best to work with an expert mortgage advisor who can look at your options and suggest the best course of action. Make an enquiry to get matched to the right mortgage broker for you.

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