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High mortgage rates will have huge impact on election, says survey


Campaigner Oliver Tattan

Campaigner Oliver Tattan

Campaigner Oliver Tattan

The high interest rates charged on variable mortgages are set to be an general election issue with more than half of people surveyed on the topic saying it will influence their vote.

The survey also shows consumers feel TDs do not understand the financial pain caused by high mortgage rates.

The poll by the One Big Switch campaign found 53pc of respondents agreed that high mortgage rates would have a significant influence on how they will vote.

Some 65pc of consumers believe their TD has no, or very little, understanding of the financial stress caused by variable rates that are among the highest in the Eurozone, according to a poll of 1,600 of the 6,000 mortgage holders who have registered with the campaign.

One Big Switch aims to collect 20,000 consumers willing to switch banks together. It wants to do a deal with a bank for lower mortgage rates in return for delivering thousands of switchers to it.

"These survey results should be a wake-up call to politicians from all sides of the political fence - consumers are deeply concerned about high interest rates, and are determined to use their vote to reward the political party who tackles the problem head on," campaign co-founder Oliver Tattan said.

It is estimated switching to the best-value mortgage could see a family with a €250,000 home-loan saving €1,500 a year.

Separate research from the Central Bank shows there has been a big rise in the numbers of people on variables opting for a fixed rate. However, this figure is coming off a low base.

The numbers who chose a fixed rate was up by a third in the year to September.

One-in-seven mortgage holders are now on fixed rates, or 14.6pc, according to the Central Bank. That represents around 110,000 mortgage holders.

Some 46pc of mortgages are on variable rates, which works out at around 345,000 of home loans. Another 40pc are trackers. This amounts to around 300,000 residential mortgages.

During the summer lenders, including Bank of Ireland, launched a number of fixed rates which were cheaper than variable rates.

This was in response to calls from Finance Minister Michael to the six domestic lenders to ease the financial pressure on those with variables.

Broker body PIBA (the Professional Insurance Brokers' Association) said it was concerned that greater numbers of homeowners were opting for fixed rates.

"Fixed interest rates for such short periods are not real fixed rates at all like those you get in Europe and elsewhere where rates can be fixed for up to 20 years or for the lifetime of a mortgage," said PIBA's chief operating officer Rachel Doyle.