Fixed Come Hell or High Water? Selection and Prepayment of Fixed-Rate Mortgages Outside the United States



We examine the decision to prepay a fixed-rate mortgage in the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. These countries are characterized by having substantial fees which are associated with breaking a fixed-rate mortgage. We develop a model which allows for fluctuations both in banks’ wholesale rates and credit spreads. We find that households can achieve economically significant benefits both from following an optimal prepayment strategy contingent on the break fee used by their bank and also by selection of fixed interest rate term and (where available) break fee structure.