In the ever-evolving landscape of financial services in the UK, one option that has garnered significant attention is the concept of Interest-Only Mortgages. This unique financial product offers a distinctive approach to home ownership, where borrowers pay only the interest on the loan for a set term, leaving the capital amount to be repaid at the end of the mortgage term.

Interest-Only Mortgages in the UK can be an attractive option for certain borrowers, offering lower monthly payments during the term of the loan. This can provide increased cash flow and support for managing other expenses. However, it’s essential to understand that this strategy requires a clear repayment plan for the capital borrowed, which is typically paid in a lump sum at the end of the term. In this guide on interest-only mortgages, we will explore the topic in detail and answer the frequently asked questions, such as

What are interest-only mortgages?

What are the eligibility criteria for interest-only mortgages?

How do interest-only mortgages work?

What are the pros and cons of getting an interest-only mortgage?

What are repayment strategies for such mortgages?

Damian Youell

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Interest-Only Mortgages

It can be a daunting prospect when it comes to choosing a mortgage, especially since it is a fairly large financial commitment to make. It is important to understand what you are getting yourself into. Today, I want to talk about interest-only mortgages. Although these mortgages are becoming less common, there are still situations where they can be the right choice.

Interest-only mortgages are a much higher risk than a traditional repayment mortgage since, in the majority of cases, the repayment vehicle that is intended to cover the repayment of the capital borrowed is not guaranteed. Like all investments, there is no telling whether or not they will grow as intended.

What Is An Interest Only Mortgage?

An Interest-Only Mortgage in the UK is a type of loan where the borrower is only required to pay the interest on the mortgage each month. The capital, which is the total amount borrowed, is not repaid until the end of the mortgage term. This structure allows for lower monthly payments during the term of the loan, which can be beneficial for borrowers who have a clear plan for repaying the capital at the end of the term.

Interest rates on an interest-only mortgage can be either fixed, meaning the rate of interest and your repayments stay the same, or variable, where the rate of interest can change, causing repayments to go up or down.

To repay the capital, borrowers need a robust repayment plan that demonstrates how they will accumulate the necessary funds. Acceptable repayment plans may include endowment policies, stocks and shares, stocks and shares ISAs, unit trusts, investment bonds, pensions, equity from the sale of a second home, switching to a repayment mortgage, or downsizing the home you live in.

What are the eligibility criteria for interest-only mortgages?

The eligibility criteria for Interest-Only Mortgages can vary between lenders, but there are some common requirements that most financial institutions will consider. These include:

  1. Credit Score: Borrowers typically need a good credit score, often around 680 or higher, to qualify for an interest-only mortgage. This score demonstrates a history of responsible credit use and repayment.
  2. Debt-to-Income Ratio: Lenders will look at a borrower’s debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, which compares the amount of debt you have to your overall income. A lower DTI ratio is preferable, often 36% or lower.
  3. Down Payment: Interest-only mortgages often require a larger down payment compared to other types of mortgages. This reduces the lender’s risk and shows that the borrower has substantial skin in the game.
  4. Proof of Assets: Lenders may require proof of assets that can be liquidated if necessary to repay the loan. This could include savings, investments, or other properties.
  5. Repayment Plan: Perhaps most importantly, lenders will want to see a clear and credible repayment plan for the capital at the end of the interest-only period. This could involve investments, the sale of a property, or other means.

It’s important to note that interest-only mortgages are not suitable for everyone and can carry higher risks than conventional mortgages. They are often best suited for borrowers with irregular income, such as bonuses or commissions, or those who expect their income to increase significantly in the future.

If you are interested in such a mortgage, you can always contact an expert mortgage broker to help with your application process.

How do interest-only mortgages work?

Interest-Only Mortgages offer a unique approach to home financing. But how do Interest-Only Mortgages work?

At the core of this financial product is a structure that allows borrowers to pay only the interest on the mortgage for a set period, typically the first 5-10 years of the loan term. This results in lower monthly payments during the interest-only period, providing a cash flow advantage for the borrower.

During the interest-only period, the principal, which is the total amount borrowed, remains unchanged. This means that the borrower is not building any equity in their home through their mortgage payments during this time. However, this can be offset if the property appreciates in value over time.

Once the interest-only period ends, the loan converts to a standard mortgage. At this point, the borrower begins to pay both the interest and a portion of the principal each month. This is known as amortization. As a result, the monthly payments increase significantly compared to the interest-only period.

It’s important to note that Interest-Only Mortgages often come with adjustable rates, meaning the interest rate can change over time. This can lead to further increases in monthly payments when the loan switches to the amortization phase.

Interest-Only Mortgages can be a powerful tool for certain borrowers, such as those with irregular income or those who expect their income to increase significantly in the future. However, they require careful financial planning and a clear strategy for repaying the principal when the time comes.

We would suggest you contact a market mortgage broker before starting your mortgage application.

What are the pros and cons of getting an interest-only mortgage?

Interest-Only Mortgages, while offering unique advantages, also come with certain drawbacks. Understanding the pros and cons of Interest-Only Mortgages can help potential borrowers make informed decisions.

Pros of Interest-Only Mortgages

  1. Lower Initial Payments: During the interest-only period, monthly payments are lower as they only cover the interest on the loan. This can free up cash for other investments or expenses.
  2. Flexibility: Interest-Only Mortgages can provide flexibility for borrowers with irregular income, such as bonuses or commissions. They can make larger payments during high-income periods to reduce the principal.
  3. Potential for Greater Investment Returns: The money saved from lower monthly payments can potentially be invested for higher returns. However, this strategy carries its own risks and requires careful financial planning.

Cons of Interest-Only Mortgages

  1. No Equity Building: During the interest-only period, borrowers are not building any equity in their home through their mortgage payments unless the property appreciates in value.
  2. Higher Payments Later: Once the interest-only period ends, monthly payments increase significantly as they then include both the principal and interest.
  3. Risk of Negative Equity: If property prices fall, borrowers could find themselves in a situation of negative equity, where the mortgage is more than the property’s worth.
  4. Repayment Pressure: There’s significant pressure to repay the full loan amount at the end of the term or to have a solid plan to switch to a repayment mortgage.

What are repayment strategies for such mortgages?

Endowment & ISA

One of the most common choices for arranging the repayment of your capital at the end of an interest-only mortgage is to set up some form of ‘repayment vehicle’ which is an investment running alongside the mortgage. This investment might take the form of an endowment policy or an ISA. The risk with this type of investment is that there is no guarantee that it will perform well enough to allow you to repay the capital. The value of pensions and investments can fall as well as rise. You may get back less than you invested.


With many personal pensions, it is possible to withdraw up to 25% of the fund on reaching retirement age. This can be taken as a tax-free lump sum which is perfect for paying off the capital owed on an interest-only mortgage. However, this depends on this sum being large enough and with all investments, there is always a risk that the fund will not perform as well as expected.


Those who know that they are due a substantial inheritance may choose to use this lump sum to repay the capital on an interest-only mortgage. This is a great choice if you know exactly when the inheritance is coming – for example, a trust fund that is released when you turn thirty. However, if it is money that will be inherited following the death of a relative, then that is not something that can be planned according to your mortgage timetable.


Instead of waiting until the end of the mortgage term to repay the capital owed, many people choose to make overpayments each month. Since the monthly repayments cover only the interest, any overpayment is deducted from the capital owed. This means that it is possible to pay off, or at the very least, reduce the capital owed before the mortgage term ends. It is important that you have a backup plan in place in case you are not able to pay off as much as you initially hoped by using overpayments.

Sale of a Second Property

If you own an additional property, you may wish to sell it in order to pay off the remaining capital at the end of your mortgage terms. Of course, this depends on your second property being worth enough to cover the capital borrowed with the mortgage. This is especially true if that property also has an outstanding mortgage on it, as you will need to pay off both mortgages with the money from the sale. It is not wise to depend on the sale of the property to repay the capital on an interest-only mortgage, as there is no guarantee of house prices being favourable when you come to sell the property.

Sell Property and Downsize

If you do not have a second property which can be sold, then it may be your intent to simply sell your home and downsize once you reach the end of the mortgage terms, leaving you with enough to pay off the capital borrowed. However, this method again depends on a favourable housing market. As an example, if you took out a 50% interest-only mortgage on a property worth £200,000, you will need to pay back the £100,000 capital that was borrowed. This means that you will be depending on the property still being worth £200,000 otherwise, you may not have enough leftover to purchase a new home. This is a risky repayment strategy.

Next Steps

Getting a mortgage which interest-based only can be a good way to keep your monthly payments low. However, before signing on the dotted line, you should ensure that you have a clear plan in place for paying off the capital at the end of the term. If you are unsure of which option is best for you, consider speaking to an independent financial adviser. They will be able to provide advice tailored specifically to your needs and circumstances.

About The Author

mortgage broker damian youell

See some of Damian’s client reviews below

Damian is an experienced mortgage broker, founder of Ltd and company director. With over a decade working as a mortgage broker he has a strong understanding of hard to place mortgage cases. With hundreds of 5 star client reviews. hundreds of repeat clients his work speaks for himself.

He started as a one man band with the philosophy of putting clients needs ahead of his own. This ethos of offering excellent customer service has helped the business grow over the years. He gets satisfaction on getting cases pushed through to offer stage where other mortgage broker and companies have failed.

Throughout his time as an adviser he has carved out a niche area of advice helping clients with their business protection requirements too. Having helped hundreds of client with Relevant Life Policies, Shareholder Protection Insurance, Keyperson Policies and other important protection requirements of large to small businesses.

At home he is a family man and likes to spend his time with his four children and wife Lisa. He enjoys going on holidays spending time with friends and going for walks.