a good time to ...

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The Independent Online
Fixed-rate loans are also looking cheap. First Mortgage will lend you 75 per cent LTV at 6.99 per cent fixed for the next five years. Over the past three decades that would have been a ridiculously cheap rate, but if you think variable rates are going lower still as lenders fight for the shrunken mortgage market, and 6.99 per cent might turn out expensive, you can get a discount of 6.25 per cent until May next year from Northern Rock's standard variable rate of 7.44 per cent. It means in practice you start by paying just 1.19 per cent on your loan; and if standard variable rates do fall by as much as a further 1 per cent, as the hawks suggest, you could end up paying pennies for a few months around the end of the year. Apart from the usual fees, the only on-cost is a requirement to get your house and contents insurance from the lender.

First-time buyers might find it hard to raise the 25 per cent deposits to get these offers, but Britannia is offering to lend first-time buyers up to 95 per cent of the valuation on a property at 2.75 per cent off the standard rate of 7.49 per cent. Borrowers also get a 3 per cent cashback, free unemployment insurance for the first 12 months, which will pay their mortgage interest, and the survey fee taken care of free.

a bad time to ... ... take out a standard variable rate mortgage charging more than 7 per cent.

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