Trouble from the start

Our lawyer Fiona McNulty looks at the legal issues involved when a mortgage offer is altered but the contracts are already signed
Mortgate mistake cartoon
© Malcolm Willett (
Question: My partner and I were offered a repayment mortgage. However, after signing we realised the mortgage had been changed to interest only.

We have been reassured by our independent financial advisor the mortgage will be changed back to our preferred repayment one and that we can move into the property now, even before the mortgage is amended. But are we taking a risk doing this?

Answer: When buying a property with a mortgage it is essential to have a satisfactory mortgage offer in place before the exchange of contracts.

Your solicitor should ensure, before advising you to exchange contracts, that you understand the mortgage offer details and that you can comply with its terms.

If by “signing” you mean that you have already exchanged contracts, even though the mortgage offer was incorrect, you should now obtain a new mortgage offer prior to your completion of the purchase. If time is tight your solicitor should ask the seller’s solicitor to delay completion until your mortgage is changed.

As your seller can charge you interest for late completion, you might want to accept the interest-only mortgage offer, complete the purchase and then try to change the mortgage afterwards.

Depending on the terms and conditions of the mortgage offer you may be charged a penalty by your lender to change the mortgage and so you must ask your solicitor to explain to you in detail the terms and conditions of your current offer.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors

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