Saturday 21 April 2018

KBC to cut its variable mortgage rate for new and existing customers

KBC Ireland chief executive Wim Verbraeken
KBC Ireland chief executive Wim Verbraeken
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

BELGIUM-owned bank KBC is to cut its variable mortgage rate for new and existing customers.

In a change of tack, the rate reduction is to apply to both new and established mortgage holders.

When the bank announced a rate cut last month, only customers taking out a mortgage for the first time benefited.

Now the bank is to cut its variable rate by 0.25pc for all mortgage holders. This will take it down to 4.25pc.

Customers who have their salary paid into a KBC current account get a further mortgage rate discount, which will mean they will get a variable rate of 4.05pc.

The reduction will take effect from December 1.

A mortgage customer with a €200,000 loan over 25 years will see payments going down by around €30 a month.

The reduction is the first since KBC and five other banks had meetings with Finance Minister Michael Noonan about high mortgage charges.

Up to now only AIB, and its subsidiary EBS, had responded to previous calls from Mr Noonan for lower variable rates.

Others, such as Bank of Ireland, have reduced their fixed rates but left variable rates unchanged.

And selected variable-rate customers of Permanent TSB, and Ulster Bank can benefit from lower interest rates if they have built up equity in their homes.

Permanent TSB has written to 70,000 customers telling them about its new managed variable rates.

Reductions of as low as 0.8pc are on offer, but only for those with small mortgages relative to the value of the home.

Last month Ulster Bank has announced a series of cuts.  The reductions will benefit those with equity in their homes. In other words, those with a low loan to value (LTV).

Ulster Bank customers with a LTV of between 60pc and 80pc can now get a rate of 3.7pc. This compares with 3.9pc previously.

A spokesman for Mr Noonan admitted the minister did not ask the banks at last month’s meeting to cut their variable rates.

It is understood that a fear of having renewed calls for lower variable rates rejected by the banks, and the concerns about political interference in banking, have stopped the minister demanding more variable-rate reductions.

Variable-rate mortgages are so much more expensive than trackers, it takes a family almost three months to earn enough to meet the extra cost.

Variable rates average around 4.2pc, compared with tracker rates of 1pc.

Brendan Burgess of the Fair Mortgage Rates Campaign called on the minister to carry through with his threat to change the law to stop banks overcharging for variable-rate mortgages.

He said competition would not force lenders to reduce variable rates for existing mortgage holders.

Mr Burgess had also called for legislation to ban banks applying rate reductions to new customers only.

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