Fixed rate. Variable rate. Help to buy. Buy to let. Ever feel like you're drowning in jargon? We spoke to 2,000 people, from Lands End to John O Groats, to find out which terms are most baffling to the average person.
The land of confusion
With a male to female split of 51 to 49%, mortgage applications were equally murky for all participants. More than a quarter of our participants didn't know what APRC (Annual Percentage Rate of Charge) meant, while 48% of Millennials couldn't explain SVR (Standard Variable Rate).
This lack of understanding – with 50% of residents only understanding some of their mortgage agreement – could lead to bad decisions. 16% of borrowers admit they stop reading when they reach a term they don't understand, and worse still, 8% of borrowers don't read the letters at all!
The cost of this legalese is more than just our time. After it was revealed in our 2018 Mortgage Saver Review that 50% of borrowers experienced "more upfront costs than anticipated", we decided to get the lowdown on fees. Of our respondents, based in major UK cities, we discovered that:
- 58% of homeowners didn't know they'd be charged for a missed mortgage payment
- 41% of mortgage applicants didn't know they'd have to pay a broker fee
- 17% believed property viewing charges were real (but women were far more adept at spotting a fake fee, with just 12% believing this compared to 21% of men)
Delving into the cities which were able to correctly define some of the most common mortgage terms included in mortgage agreements, Southampton came out on top with 90% of homeowners or those currently going through the process of buying a home living in the city, able to correctly define five or more mortgage terms.
Residents of Belfast came in a close second (87%), followed by those living in Cardiff (86%), Sheffield (84%) and Edinburgh (84%).
We know that understanding mortgage terminology and jargon can be difficult, but there are some key terms that plenty of homeowners across the UK are familiar with. The five mortgage terms which the highest percentage of homeowners failed to correctly define were:
- Remortgaging (76%)
- APRC (65%)
- Completion (40%)
- Mortgage term (37%)
- Base rate (27%)
If these results have got you scratching your head, we've got the answer. At Trussle, we're committed to making the whole process as clear and easy to understand for homeowners as possible, encouraging lenders to use straightforward communication so those embarking on the home buying process have a clear understanding of the process.
A Standard Variable Rate (SVR) is a mortgage lender's default higher-interest rate, which you'll usually be moved onto once your initial mortgage deal has ended.
A mortgage overpayment is simply a matter of paying more than your required monthly amount. Doing this can reduce the total interest or the time it takes to pay off your mortgage. Learn more with our mortgage overpayment guide.
If you miss one or more monthly mortgage payments, your account will go into 'arrears'. Depending on your situation and lender, you could be charged a penalty or granted a payment holiday.
The mortgage term is the length of time between your mortgage starting and making the final payment, most commonly between 25 and 35 years.
A credit report is provided by a credit agency. It provides you with a score based on your current and historic financial situation. This is used by mortgage lenders to assess how suitable you are to lend to.
The Annual Percentage Rate of Charge (APRC) is displayed alongside all advertised mortgage deals. It represents the average interest rate calculated over the entire mortgage term, including the initial rate and the lender's SVR you'll be moved onto once the initial period ends.
The base rate (also called the Bank rate) is the interest rate a central bank like the Bank of England charges to lend money to commercial banks. This is one influencing factor of mortgage rates.
If you're looking to buy a property with the intention of renting it out to earn income, then you'll need to apply for a buy-to-let (BTL) mortgage.
The day of completion is when all the financial and legal work of buying or selling a home has been completed by the licensed conveyancer or conveyancing solicitors, transferring ownership from the seller to the buyer.
Remortgaging is the process of switching from one mortgage to another, either with your current lender (also called a 'product transfer') or a new one. This is often done to avoid lapsing onto the current lender's higher-interest SVR.
If you're unsure about what any of these terms mean for your mortgage, speak to one of our mortgage advisers.