SVR interest hits mortgage borrowers for £15.4bn each year

Warren Lewis
20th November 2018
Mortgage 438

New research from Private Finance has revealed that mortgage borrowers who fail to shop around for the best deal and remain on their lenders’ standard variable rate and being hit with an an eye-watering £15.4bn of annual interest.

Data from the Financial Conduct Authority found 2.04 million UK mortgage borrowers with authorised lenders have been on an SVR for six months or more, equating to 25% of all mortgage borrowers.

With a typical loan of £173,6772 and an average interest rate of 4.39%3, SVR borrowers pay £7,5464 in annual interest – amounting to a cumulative total of £15.4bn. In comparison, a borrower with the same size loan but on a 75% loan-to-value (LTV) two-year fixed rate (1.76%) would pay just £3,012 in annual interest, or 60% less.

Borrowers who remain on an SVR for the full term risk paying 65% of their original loan in interest

Private Finance’s analysis demonstrates that if a borrower was to remain on a typical SVR for the full 25-year term of their loan, they would pay £112,683 in total interest. This represents 65% of their original loan (£173,677). Though this scenario is purely hypothetical, the scale of interest relative to the original loan would be similar to short-term, high-cost loans such as those provided by Wonga.

Before it went into administration, the average payday loan of £250 would typically earn Wonga £1505 in interest, representing 60% of the original loan. Though the payday loan and mortgage sectors are very different, this highlights the comparatively high cost of remaining on an SVR.

Shaun Church, Director at Private Finance, comments: “Standard variable rates have always been uncompetitive, but with rates falling fast in recent years, the gulf between SVRs and typical mortgage rates is becoming increasingly apparent. Lenders are cashing in on borrowers’ inertia, charging rates that are more than two times the rate they would charge to new customers.

Given so many borrowers end up sitting on an SVR rather than switching, we believe there is a strong market for 10-year fixed products, which require little effort from the borrower but guarantee a long-term competitive rate. A lack of flexibility can put some borrowers off these deals, so we would encourage lenders to consider products that allow borrowers to port or end their deal before the fixed period has ended without hefty charges. However, there is little motivation for lenders to do so given the considerable amount of funding they receive from SVR interest.

Though it is ultimately the borrower’s choice, lenders are making significant profit by punishing customers for being loyal. The message to borrowers is clear: don’t fall into the SVR trap and always switch to a more competitive deal once your existing mortgage term comes to an end. An independent mortgage broker will be able to advise on the most suitable deal, noting other factors such as product fees and flexibility can be just as important as the headline rate.”

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