MEP Brian Hayes has called for a simpler switching process for consumers seeking to change mortgages, backed by stand-alone legislation. Hayes gave the example of Italy, which introduced an easy way to switch mortgage providers at no cost to the consumer. Interest rate types can be changed from fixed to variable and vice versa, and both financial institutions involved in the switch are required to share information.
“The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has recently published a survey which showed that only one in seven mortgage holders have thought about switching. And only 2% of mortgage holders have actually switched in the last five years,” said Hayes, who also noted that switching should be a “consumer right.”
“We essentially have five main banks offering similar interest rates for mortgages. There is a complete lack of competition in the market. But if we had switching rates anywhere near Italy, mortgage rates would be much lower in Ireland,” he added. “People are still being ripped off by banks charging very high variable mortgage rates. The rates have come down by a small degree in the past year but Irish mortgage holders are still being overcharged compared to our Eurozone neighbours. The average variable mortgage rate in the Eurozone is almost 2% lower than Ireland.”
Farewell to the fireplace?
In other news, are you building or renovating a house or apartment? If you were considering adding an open fireplace, the Irish Examiner notes that regulations introduced in 2014 could effectively prohibit you from doing so.
Claire O’Sullivan warns consumers that those regulations which require higher levels of eco-efficiency mean that open fires will have to be compensated by more expensive eco-friendly measures.
Finally, the days of children benefiting from inheritance money are largely coming to a close, according to the Irish Independent. Citing research conducted by the Law Reform Commission, Shane Phelan notes that these funds are now being used to fund people’s retirement years, rather than as a nest egg to be left to their children when they pass.