Leanne Macardle

Leanne Macardle

Editor
Published: 30/04/2019

Securing the best mortgage rate possible is key to ensuring your repayments remain affordable, yet while there are many things that impact providers' pricing decisions, it seems that wholesale costs – one aspect that used to be an essential component of a mortgage rate – are no longer as vital as they once were.

Indeed, according to the latest Moneyfacts UK Mortgage Trends Treasury Report, the average two and five-year fixed mortgage rates fell only marginally in the last month, despite SWAP rates (the rates mortgage providers use to hedge themselves against interest rate fluctuations) falling dramatically.

For example, the average two-year mortgage rate fell by 0.01% to 2.48% this month, while the five-year equivalent fell by the same amount to 2.88%. While any kind of reduction is good news for borrowers, wholesale costs actually fell far more dramatically – the two-year SWAP rate fell by 0.17% in the last month and the five-year rate by 0.24% – which at one time would have signalled a far greater reduction in mortgage rates, too.

At the same time, the level of product change is slowing – as can be seen by the average shelf life of a mortgage product rising in recent months – with providers making fewer changes to their product ranges. This lack of activity, particularly when combined with such minimal rate changes, suggests that mortgage providers are adopting a more 'wait and see' approach amid the current level of economic uncertainty, offering borrowers a measure of stability – at least where mortgage products are concerned.

The table below highlights the latest changes in more detail:

Selection of key mortgage indicators (residential only)

 


Average two-year fixed mortgage rate


Two-year SWAP rate


Average five-year fixed mortgage rate


Five-year SWAP rate


Average two-year tracker mortgage rate


Average shelf life of mortgage products*


Feb-19


2.49%


1.08%


2.90%


1.24%


2.10%


38 days


Mar-19


2.49%


1.12%


2.89%


1.31%


2.09%


42 days


Apr-19


2.48%


0.95%


2.88%


1.07%


2.10%


49 days

* Measurement between the time a product launches and its repricing or withdrawal. Please note: Averages are based on residential mortgage rates only. Source: Moneyfacts Treasury Reports

 

"It is probable that mortgage providers may be stepping back and waiting for greater economic certainty before they return to making strategic changes to their mortgage ranges," said Darren Cook, finance expert at Moneyfacts. "The average shelf life of a mortgage product on our database increased to 49 days this month, seeing a product remain available for 10 days longer than in February this year.

"Further supporting a possible 'wait and see' approach from providers is the lack of movement in the average two and five-year fixed mortgage rates, while the average two-year tracker rate also showed little movement but instead increased by 0.01% to 2.10%. This continues the trend seen in the previous month, with the average rates between February and March also either decreasing by 0.1% or not changing at all.

"More significant changes however can be seen when looking at SWAP rates, which have historically been a reliable indicator in anticipating which direction rates on fixed rate deals may be going. Significant SWAP rate decreases or increases for a prolonged period may indicate that the average two and five-year fixed mortgage rates are likely to follow suit, as has been seen when market speculation is rife of a suggested base rate change."

This could perhaps suggest that mortgage rates are set to fall further, but there's of course no guarantee, with the link between mortgage rates and wholesale costs no longer as strong as it once was. However, the latest data means that borrowers who were themselves holding off on making a decision won't have lost out at rate level, so now could be the time to start checking out the market. Compare the best mortgage rates using our search tool or mortgage calculator, and see if it's time to make a move.

Disclaimer

Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

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