The Inside Edge
The upside of the credit crunch fuelled recession has been, for many British families, lower mortgage repayments on loans. Despite the media’s love for doom and gloom these lucky souls have been going about their business not believing their luck. The mortgages in question are those calculated at the lenders’ standard variable rate (which may or may not be tied to the bank of England Base rate) or tracker mortgages (About 1,500 C&G customers on tracker mortgage at 1.01% below Bank base rate have been paying no interest at all on their home loans since March 2009! according to Citywire).
Historically low interest rates have meant that some homeowners have actually found an extra few hundred pounds in their bank account each month as a result of the Bank of England’s efforts to buoy the housing market and avoid an even greater disaster of a recession.
Those who have a mortage with a lender who ties their variable rate to the BoE base rate have been the happiest, or those with tracker mortgages.
However some banks (such as Standard Life) have an arbitrary standard variable rate that they set themselves. (Remember that kid that wouldn’t let you play with his ball unless you agreed to his version of the rules?)
Some of these lenders whose SVR is not tied to the bank’s rate are starting to hit many UK homeowners with a rate rises in an efforet to recoup losses made elsewhere reports citywire this week.
Our own Professional Landlord recently sold a house due to his mortgage company (Standard Life) keeping their SVR for low LTV customers at 6.67% despite the base rate sitting at 0.5%. A remortgage deal for an existing customer? Why no sir, those are reserved for our special new customers only sir.
In fact Buy-To-Let investors tend to fare worst in these circumstances and are seen as fair game by lenders as their interests are also commercial. Or so the argument goes.
A quick and dirty list of Lenders’ SVRs shows some disparity:
Marsden building society 5.95%
Mansfield building society5.59%
Ipswich, Scottish and Cambridge building societies and Accord Mortgages, most of which are well over 5%.
Skipton SVR 4.95%
Norwich & Peterborough 4.85%.
Santander SVR 4.24%
Nationwide Building Society SVR 3.99%
HSBC SVR 3.94%
First Direct SVR 3.69%
Halifax standard variable rate (SVR) 3.5%
Barclays SVR 2.49% (via the Woolwich)
Most analysts agree that the BoE base rate will rise from 0.5% this year, but moderately and towards the end of the year – into 2011 looks a bit far out from here to say but again moderate increases are expected.
So what can we learn from this? If you’re remortgaging or getting a mortgage then tracker deals inherently are a gamble of sorts and you could get lucky like those C&G customers above, or you could get unlucky and we could enter a period of high inflation – or something in between. If you are taking a new fixed rate deal then look carefully at how the lenders’ SVR is calculated – is it the arbitrary judgement of the boardroom or is it contractually tied to the BoE base rate?