Tuesday 25 November 2014

Sharp fall in number of homeowners on tracker mortgages

Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

Published 18/12/2012 | 05:00

THERE has been a sharp fall in the number of people with tracker mortgages, and a big rise in the numbers on more expensive variable rates.

Close to 300,000 of those with a mortgage now have a variable rate version.

This is a huge rise, as just a few years ago there were only 200,000 with variable rates.

And the number of those with good-value trackers has fallen from 400,000 to 373,000, calculations based on Central Bank figures show.

Tracker mortgages have not been available for five years, with banks constantly complaining they are losing money on them.

This is because they are the cheapest mortgage in the market, and the interest rate can only change with the European Central Bank.

With variables, banks can hike rates whenever they want. Earlier this year, both AIB and Bank of Ireland/ICS hiked their variable rates by 0.5pc each, in what was a massive blow to households.

The average tracker interest rate is around 2pc, while the average variable rate is 4.3pc.

This means a family with a €200,000 variable rate is paying almost €250 a month more in repayments than a family with a tracker rate.

Just 10pc of mortgage holders, or 76,195 mortgage accounts, are on fixed rates. This is low compared with other European countries.

Finance expert Karl Deeter of Irish Mortgage Brokers said the numbers on trackers were diminishing because they have not been offered for five years now.

Fixed

Some of those on trackers have ended up giving them up because they opted for fixed rates instead.

Others opted for a fixed rate for three or five years and had hoped to revert back to the tracker, but were were not allowed by their bank, Mr Deeter said.

Fixed rates tend to be expensive in this country compared with other EU states, he added.

Meanwhile, a leading broker body has said that the level of refusals for those applying for a mortgage was still high.

The Professional Insurance Brokers Association (PIBA) said that demand for mortgages remained strong but many people were being turned down because they could not prove a capacity to repay a mortgage.

Rachel Doyle of PIBA says the lending situation continues to be "critical", with three-quarters of brokers identifying this as the main impediment to people taking out mortgages.

Irish Independent

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