Interest rates have been rising. If you're thinking about your Mortgage expiring in 2023, you are not alone. This insight will provide an idea about what a Tracker Mortgage is. It will help you to decide if a tracker mortgage might provide a good option for you.
A Tracker Mortgage adjusts its interest rate in line with a market benchmark. The benchmark used by most mortgage products is the Bank of England base rate. On a Tracker Mortgage, if the benchmark Interest rate goes up or down, the interest rate on your mortgage will follow by the same amount.
A Tracker Mortgage is a Mortgage that adjusts its interest rate in line with a market benchmark. The benchmark used in most mortgage products is the Bank of England base rate. On a Tracker Mortgage, if the benchmark Interest rate goes up or down, the interest rate on your mortgage will follow by the same amount.
If the Bank of England raises interest rates by 0.5%, your mortgage interest rate will rise by 0.5%.
With a Tracker Mortgage, you usually agree to a tracking rate above the benchmark. For example, you might have a Mortgage that tracks at '1% above the bank of England base rate'.
If you have a tracker of 1% above the base rate, and the base rate is 3.5%, your Mortgage interest rate will be 4.5%. Any changes in the base rate will impact your Mortgage from the next day.
Using our example, if you have a £200,000 Mortgage outstanding, over a term of 25 years, and base rate moves from 3% to 3.5%, your Mortgage interest will move from 4% to 4.5%. That will change your monthly repayments from £1,055 per month to £1,111 per month. Unfortunately, none of that extra money goes towards paying back your loan. It all goes towards extra interest paid to your lender.
Tracker Mortgages aren't new. But, they haven't been very popular for a long time. This is because we have been living in a low-interest-rate economy. The bank of England rate was 0.25%. It was generally considered that a tracker would not be worth the risk as there wasn’t much room for a further drop.
As a result of low-interest rates, Fixed Mortgages became much more competitively priced.
While Tracker Mortgages can offer lower interest rates and the potential for savings on monthly payments, they also carry some risks that borrowers should be aware of.
The uptake of tracker mortgages is increasing, here's what people are taking advantage of:
A capped tracker mortgage has a pre-agreed rate that your tracker mortgage cannot rise above, even if the benchmark rate does. This offers you protection should interest rates continue to rise.
A floored tracker mortgage has a pre-agreed rate that your tracker mortgage cannot drop below, even if the benchmark rate does. You are sacrificing some potential savings in return for normally a more competitively priced mortgage product.
A lifetime tracker mortgage allows you to retain your mortgage tracker terms for the life of your mortgage. Many people have benefitted from lifetime trackers as rates have fallen through the years. On a standard tracker, you renew your terms and tracking rate every 2, 3, 4 or 5 years.
A set term tracker is the standard tracker, you agree to track for a set period, ranging between 2-5 years.
An offset tracker allows you to use some of your savings to offset the interest paid on your Mortgage.
You agree to put your savings into an account with your lender. The difference between your mortgage loan amount and money in the savings account is the amount of debt you pay interest on.
Tracker Mortgages differ from fixed-rate mortgages. On a fixed-rate mortgage, the monthly payments and interest rates are fixed for a period agreed upfront. On a tracker, interest can change from month to month in line with the benchmark agreed.
Fixed-rate mortgages give you the certainty that you know each month what your repayments will be. This allows you to budget accordingly. It's important to choose a fixed-rate mortgage if you are looking for stability in your repayments.
As a tracker mortgage's interest rate can change from month to month, you have little certainty over what your mortgage repayments will be next month. That can make budgeting tricky.
Most trackers in the UK follow the bank of England base rate, set by the monetary policy committee, and they meet 8 times a year, normally every 6 weeks. The potential for changes in your tracker rate could be as often as every 6 weeks. However, it is discretionary for the bank of England should they decide to meet an additional time. Ultimately, that means your tracker interest rate could change whenever the bank of England decides to change rates.
The committee has 9 members who vote on rate changes. They must agree to a majority to increase rates. In 2022, the base rate changed 6 times.
Those who are in favour of hikes are said to be hawkish, whilst those who favour lower rates are known to be dovish.
Deciding if a tracker mortgage is worth it depends on risk tolerance and financial stability. Consider your goals, income stability, and disposable income. Avoid focusing solely on cost. Explore alternatives like consulting a mortgage adviser or extending the mortgage term to reduce repayments.
Here are some factors to consider:
If you have sufficient disposable income and few financial obligations, riding a tracker mortgage might be suitable. In case interest rates rise, the impact on your finances may be minimal.
If you have a family relying on your sole income and require predictable monthly payments, fixed mortgages would be more suitable for you.
Choosing between tracker and fixed mortgages shouldn't be solely based on which one is cheaper. Predicting future interest rate movements accurately is impossible.
Ultimately, the decision to opt for a tracker mortgage should be based on your individual circumstances, financial goals, and tolerance for risk.
Interest rates have been rising and many people believe they are going to fall eventually. If you have a tracker mortgage, your repayments would be reduced if interest rates do fall. However, when deciding if a tracker mortgage is a good idea now, you will need to consider your own personal circumstances. What would happen to your budget and lifestyle if your repayments changed every month? You should consider your view on whether interest rates will be reduced. However, you should more strongly consider how your finances will be impacted.
Stuart is an expert in Property, Money, Banking & Finance, having worked in retail and investment banking for 10+ years before founding Sunny Avenue. Stuart has spent his career studying finance. He holds qualifications in financial studies, mortgage advice & practice, banking operations, dealing & financial markets, derivatives, securities & investments.
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