50% of mortgage lenders fail to pass on base rate cuts

31 October 2008 / by Rachel Mason
Half of all mortgage lenders have failed to pass the recent base rate cuts onto their standard variable rates, according to Moneyfacts.co.uk.

According to the financial information website, there is "a strong indication that the majority of these have no intention of cutting their SVR". Moneyfacts.co.uk also claims that there is "an even stronger possibility" that lenders have reached a plateau and are simply unable to cut mortgage rates further.

The research shows that 50 per cent of lenders have not passed on the October cut, which saw the base rate fall from five per cent to 4.5 per cent, and 82 per cent of lenders have not passed on the full one per cent from the last three cuts.

Moneyfacts.co.uk says that 57 per cent of lenders passed on just half or less than half of the last three base rate cuts.

"Banks and building societies are now facing tough decisions in light of news that the Bank of England will take an aggressive approach on future cuts in base rate," explained Darren Cook, mortgage expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk.

"Historically, the SVR had little relevance in the market, with only a few customers ever needing to revert to this rate and lenders have amended these rates in line with bank base changes," he said, "however, as pay rates or initial rates on other products have increased in price as a result of the adverse markets, SVRs have become a more viable product option."

Mr Cook says that in real terms, most lenders' current SVRs are underpriced compared to the rest of the mortgage market, and some products have even reverted to a rate that is lower than the initial rate.

"Base rate is expected to fall again next week and we could have a situation where even less or no lenders choose to pass on a benefit to their customers, in an attempt, in the short term, to allow falling interbank rates to catch up with their current rates," he said.

Mr Cook says one of the main problems is that the Libor – the rate at which banks lend to each others – has not fallen at the same rate as the Bank of England base rate.

"The Libor rate has only fallen by 0.36%, to 5.91%, since the base rate cut on 8 October and indicates that there is still a long way to go before we see any sign of stability in interbank borrowing," he said.

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