Page last updated at 11:37 GMT, Thursday, 8 October 2009 12:37 UK

Low rates 'help 100,000 a month'

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Mortgage bills have been cheaper for many people in recent months

An extra 100,000 people every month are gaining from a drop in their mortgage bills as interest rates remain low, lenders say.

The borrowers have come to the end of two or three-year fixed-rate deals each month, and typically have moved to much lower standard variable rates.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said that 42% of existing mortgage-holders are still on fixed-rate deals.

The Bank rate was held at 0.5% for the seventh successive month on Thursday.

Affordability

Figures from the CML show that for those able to secure a home loan, mortgages have been at their most affordable since March 2004.

Borrowers of loans for house purchases in July were spending an average of 12.7% of their income on mortgage interest payments, compared with 18.1% for loans secured a year earlier.

Cheaper mortgage bills are more likely to be felt by those coming to the end of fixed-rate terms, and most of these people are thought to be allowing their deal to switch automatically to a cheaper variable rate rather than remortgaging.

However, some indication of whether home buyers expect rates to rise in the future comes from the proportion who are making the most of relatively low rates and taking out fixed-rate deals when buying now.

In August, 78% of new borrowers chose a fixed-rate mortgage, compared with 59% in the same month a year earlier.

Some 14% took out a home loan that tracks the Bank rate, compared with 28% in August 2008 when interest rates were plunging.

There are 11.1 million UK households with a mortgage, with an average outstanding value of £110,600.



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