HSBC's "bold move" to match existing fixed-rate mortgage quotes

09 April 2008 / by Joy Tibbs
HSBC is to match mortgage rates for customers coming to the end of their fixed-rate deal with another lender.

From April 14, the UK's biggest mortgage lender, which has been offering existing customers the deal since February, will extend the offer to new customers for a five week period, subject to affordability criteria.

Many homeowners have been panicking about huge rises in repayment rates when their fixed-rate mortgage deal comes to an end, some of whom have been enjoying extremely low deals penned two or five years ago. The HSBC Rate Matcher Mortgage could help address these concerns, although a fee applies.

Head of HSBC mortgages, Martijn Van Der Heijden, says: "Many homeowners are worried about their monthly repayments going up and we can help take away that anxiety.

"Rate Matcher helps customers plan budgets over the medium term and eases the shock of seeking new borrowing when old rates expire. We're pleased to be in a position to help."

Non-HSBC homeowners will be able to apply for the deal, which will match rates as low as 4.54 per cent for a two-year period. This applies to customers whose fixed-rate deal is set to mature before June 30 and whose loan-to-value ratio is 80 per cent or less. The maximum loan amount available will be £250,000.

The mortgage fee will depend on the size of the home loan and the interest rate requested. However, the company claims 72 per cent of applicants will pay £999 or less and that 57 per cent will pay £599 or less.

And customers whose home loan is above the £250,000 cut-off point can apply for a Rate Matcher up to this allowance and take out a different type of HSBC mortgage to bridge the gap. Meanwhile, existing customers can apply to match rates for two, three or five years.

The move has been praised by industry experts, with Sean Gardner of MoneyExpert.com calling it a "lifeline to hard-pressed mortgage borrowers" and urging people to "flock to HSBC while the offer is out there."

"The fact that HSBC owns First Direct – which closed to new business last week temporarily – shows the importance of financial strength in the current market turmoil," he said, "all we hear is bad news when it comes to property prices and lending so this is a breath of fresh air for homeowners."

And Louise Cuming, head of mortgages at moneysupermarket.com called the move "bold" and "clever", but suggested it might be too good to be true.

"This is a bold decision in the current environment where some providers are falling over themselves not to feature on best buy tables.

"However, when an offer looks too good to be true, it usually is - HSBC requires a deposit of at least 20 per cent and will only accept applicants that fit strict criteria.

"Overall though, this is a short term marketing triumph. Amidst the credit crunch gloom, this will seem like a lifeline for many homeowners and undoubtedly the bank will be deluged with enquiries."

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