Tracker mortgages follow changes in the base rate, with a constant differential being maintained between the base rate and the mortgage interest rate.
A lender's standard variable rate will typically be around 1.5% above the base rate. In addition, a fall in the base rate will not always necessarily be followed by an equivalent fall in the standard variable rate. However, tracker mortgages tend to have a smaller difference above the base rate, down to around 0.75% or even lower, and they are guaranteed to rise and fall with the base rate.
This means if the base rate rises your monthly payments will rise. If the base rate falls your monthly payments will fall. So if you are looking to find the cheapest tracker mortgage you have to keep an eye on the base rate and be prepared to pay more if it starts to increase!
The period for which the tracker mortgage applies may be for a fixed term only, say 5 years, after which time the interest rate will revert to the lender's standard variable rate. Tracker mortgage UK deals are also available that persist for the full term of the mortgage.
Some mortgage lenders will offer different tracker rates depending on the amount you are borrowing as a percentage of the value of your home (LTV - Loan to Value). For example, 0.75% above the base rate may be offered for a mortgage with an LTV of 90%. Alternatively, 1.5% above the base rate may be offered for a mortgage with an LTV of 95%. As a rule the best tracker mortgage rates are only available to low LTV mortgages.
Rates may be offered in conjunction with a discount offer. For example, 0.5% above the base rate may be offered for the first 2 years, rising to 0.75% above the base rate after the discount period.
The interest rate payable will usually be lower than the lender's standard variable rate.
You can benefit from all drops in the Bank of England's base rate as they will always lead to an equivalent fall in your tracker mortgage's interest rate.
Early redemption penalties may apply which could extend beyond the end of the discounted period. This means you will be unable to change your mortgage during the 'early redemption penalty period' without paying a fee, which may be up to the value of six months mortgage repayments.
The Bank of England base rate can be unpredictable and can increase rapidly, resulting in an increase in your monthly payments.
It is less easy to budget as the interest rate can and will vary.
If you are keen on a tracker mortgage it is vital to compare the best deals on the market so you end up with the cheapest and best tracker mortgage for your circumstances. If you're looking to remortgage your property, there are also tracker remortgage products available.
You can compare the best tracker mortgages using our tracker mortgage comparison table.