Mortgage interest rates

When choosing a mortgage, the interest rate is the most important factor to consider.  The rate you pay has a significant impact on the amount you pay each month, and over the lifetime of the mortgage.  There are a number of different types of interest rates available, so when you are deciding which one suits you best there are some important things to consider.

Comparing rates

Use the annual percentage rate of charge (APRC) to compare mortgages for the same amount and term. The APRC takes into account all the costs involved over the term of the mortgage such as set-up charges and the interest rate. The lower the APRC, the lower your repayments and cost over the term of the mortgage .

You can use our mortgages money tool to see what your monthly repayments would be as well as the total cost over the full term, based on the rates that are currently available from the different lenders in the market.

There are three main types of mortgage interest rates available. The one that suits you best will depend on your personal preferences and situation.

Variable Rate

Variable rates can rise and fall so your mortgage repayments can go up and down during the term of your mortgage. A variable rate offers the most flexibility and may allow you to pay extra off your mortgage, extend the term or top it up without having to pay a penalty.

Types of variable rates:

Standard variable rate – this rate can rise or fall over the term of your mortgage and is influenced by a number of factors. It is important to remember that the amount you pay each month towards your mortgage can go up as well as go down.

If you had a mortgage of €250,000 over 25 years at a variable rate of 3.2% your monthly repayment would be about €1,210 and the total cost of credit would be €113,509.

If the rate was increased to 3.45% your monthly repayment would go up to €1,245 and the total cost of credit would be €123,459.

An increase in the interest rate by a quarter of a per cent results in the amount you pay per month going up by €35 and the cost of credit going up by nearly €10,000.

Loan-to-value (LTV) rate – this rate is based on the amount you owe on your mortgage relative to the market value of the property. For example, if your home is worth €300,000 and you owe €150,000 your LTV is 50%. Many lenders offer lower variable rates for lower LTV mortgages and it is worth regularly reviewing the amount you owe and what your home is worth.

Tracker rate – none of the lenders in the Irish market offer tracker rates any more.  Tracker rates are set at a fixed percentage or margin above the European Central Bank (ECB) rate and as this rate rises and falls, so does a tracker mortgage rate.

If you switch from a tracker rate you are unlikely to be able to revert back to it. If you are coming to the end of a fixed term and you think you are entitled to revert back to a tracker rate you should check this with your lender.

Discounted variable rate – this is a temporary rate, typically for 12 months, set below the standard variable rate. It is usually offered as an incentive to new customers and reduces the amount you repay in your first year. At the end of the discounted period, you will revert to the standard variable rate or move onto a fixed rate, if that’s what you choose.

Top Tip
If you are thinking about taking out a mortgage based on a discounted rate always compare the rate the lender will offer after the discount period to other rates on the market. The discounted rate may be lower but the follow-on rate could be higher than other lenders are offering.

Capped rate – this is when a cap or upper limit is set on the variable rate for a specified time. A capped rate can rise to a certain limit but not above this. For example, a variable rate cap could be set at 6% and your variable rate could increase to this level but would not go beyond it. These are not widely available in the Irish market.

Fixed Rate

With a fixed rate mortgage your monthly repayments are fixed for a set period of time. With a fixed rate the amount you repay per month will not increase but you will also not benefit from a drop in rates during the fixed rate period.

Fixed rates are available over varying periods, usually between one and five years but some lenders offer seven and 10 year periods .

The main benefit of a fixed rate is knowing exactly what you will repay each month and having the peace of mind that your repayments will not increase during the fixed-rate period. However, if there is a prolonged period of low rates you may end up paying more in the long run.

If you want to break out of a fixed rate you may have to pay a penalty or fee. You might want to break out of your fixed rate if you decide to switch lenders, re-mortgage, pay off a lump sum or if you want to sell your home or your circumstances change, for example a relationship breaks down and you want to take out a mortgage in your own name. You should find out more about any penalty before you sign up to a long term fixed rate, or decide to break out of an existing one.

At the end of the fixed rate period, your lender will write to you and inform you of your options which may include moving to a variable rate or availing of another fixed rate. If you don’t choose an option your lender may automatically put you on their standard variable rate which might not be the most suitable or cheapest option for you.

For applicants that meet the criteria of the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan fixed rates of 25 and 30 years are available.

Split Rate

A split rate is when a certain portion of your mortgage is on a fixed rate and the other portion is on a variable rate.

Your repayments on the fixed part of the mortgage won’t change but you could benefit from a fall in rates on the variable part, but these could also increase.

Split rates aren’t available from all lenders but it can be a good option if you want some certainty but also want to benefit from any decreases in variable rates. You may also be able to avoid penalties you would face if you were on a fixed rate only and want to change your mortgage, as these penalties would only apply to the fixed rate part of the mortgage.

Last updated on 4 October 2019

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