In Focus: Home ownership  

Why I’m opting for a tracker despite rising rates

Bob Singh

Bob Singh

Right now a lot of borrowers will be scratching their heads when their broker raises the possibility of them taking out a tracker or discounted rate, which will see their monthly payment go up if the Bank of England raises rates further.

Most agree a rate rise is likely as the BoE seeks to control runaway inflation. But I am doing my own remortgage right now and have decided to go down the tracker route.

Sounds mad with rates rising, right? So why am I doing this? Let me explain.

Article continues after advert

The key takeaway is that the premium you currently have to pay for the security of a fixed rate, over and above a tracker or a discounted variable rate, is around 2.5 per cent to 3 per cent.

That’s a chunky premium. And it’s a premium that may take some time to come down, despite the fact the BoE has now hinted that the bank rate may not breach even 5 per cent.

Indeed, anyone taking out a tracker or discounted variable rate must be prepared for an increase in their monthly payments. In fact, it’s almost inevitable.

But even with further rate rises, the important bit to understand is that you could still be paying less on a tracker for some time yet.

There’s also the fact that some lenders have introduced tracker rates that are penalty-free while others have options to switch in-house onto a fixed rate at any time without an early repayment charge.

This is good for someone who may want to exit a tracker and lock into a fixed rate for added security. It gives them flexibility and peace of mind.

How would it work?

To illustrate how this all works in practice, below is a breakdown of the monthly payments on a variable tracker moving up to the fixed rate equivalent and then falling.

Assumption: First-time buyer; 90 per cent LTV (£270,000 ); 25 years repayment mortgage.

Option 1

Two-year tracker at 3.54 per cent (base rate plus 0.54 per cent). Monthly payment: £1,358.

Monthly payment should base rate rise to 5 per cent (pay rate 5.54 per cent): £1,684.

Option 2

Two-year or five-year fixed at 5.6 per cent. Monthly payment: £1,693.

A tracker rate, in this example, gives an initial saving of approximately £326 a month when compared with the fixed rate equivalent.

Now, as the BoE base rate increases, that saving will naturally erode but until the rate reaches the fixed rate, the borrower is in the money. 

For some borrowers, of course, the saving may not warrant taking the risk with a tracker and they may opt for a fixed rate instead. It all comes down to a person’s appetite for risk and personal circumstances.

More considerations

What’s important is that they take advice from an independent mortgage broker and make an informed decision.

Other factors that should be taken into account are: