Half a million mortgage-holders are facing an imminent financial shock as their fixed deals end in the run-up to Christmas or January, Which? is warning.
Figures from regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, show that around 500,000 fixed-rate mortgages will come to an end in November, December or January.
As a result of higher interest rates, most affected homeowners moving onto new deals will have to pay hundreds of pounds more each month compared to their previous deal.
Data from Moneyfacts shows that the market-leading two-year fixed-rate mortgage is currently 5.53 per cent from Coventry Building Society. Earlier this year, the average rate for this type of mortgage went above 6.0 per cent yet those who fixed their deal in December 2021 could have got rates below 2.0 per cent.
The average mortgage holder has £147,000 left to pay off, according to the FCA.
In September 2021, someone taking out a two-year fix with 20 years left on their loan would, on average, have paid £770 a month. However, someone in that same scenario today would be paying £1,106 a month - a £336 difference, which equates to £4,032 extra annually.
Data from the FCA also suggests another spike in mortgage deals coming to an end next Spring, with over 180,000 homeowners set to come off fixed-term rates in April.
The consumer service is calling on banks to ensure they are ready to provide appropriate support to customers. That means firms are ensuring that their customer service support - via phone calls, email and chat support - is properly staffed and resourced, including during the Christmas holiday period.
Which? says those concerned about their ability to make mortgage repayments should contact their lender in the first instance - and doing so will not affect their credit score.
Support could include a temporary mortgage holiday, temporarily paying only the interest on the mortgage (and not the capital repayment), or extending the term of your mortgage. The most suitable option will depend on individual circumstances, so it is crucial that lenders are offering tailored support.
Ele Clark, Senior Money Editor at Which?, says: “The rock-bottom interest rates homeowners enjoyed for more than a decade are firmly behind us, and those who need to remortgage are feeling the full force of the last two years’ worth of rate rises.
“With around half a million mortgage-holders’ fixed-rate deals coming to an end in the next few months, it’s vital that lenders are offering adequate and fully resourced customer support to help borrowers assess their options.
“Under the new Consumer Duty, firms must support their customers throughout the term of their mortgage. If they don’t, we’d expect them to face tough action from the regulator.”