The most recent research undertaken by the Central Bank of Ireland (the “Central Bank”) on this topic was published on 11 April 2017. The research was externally commissioned, involving focus groups and a quantitative survey of 2,003 mortgage holders. It was conducted to gain a better understanding of consumers’ perceptions, attitudes and experience of mortgage switching, in order to identify areas where further action by the Central Bank could assist borrowers who are considering switching their mortgage. While many consumers surveyed, who have switched their mortgage, reported a positive experience, others reported many aspects of the switching process that could be improved to better facilitate mortgage switching. In addition to the consumer research, the Central Bank also conducted research among lenders, mortgage intermediaries and law firms in order to gain insights into their views of the mortgage switching process.

The main findings from the Central Bank research are summarized below:

  • Consumers see mortgage switching as a significant undertaking;
  • Consumers who switched their mortgage had a positive experience;
  • Consumers said that they might consider switching if they could be certain that they would make a saving over the lifetime of the mortgage;
  • Consumers see mortgage switching as costly;
  • Easy comparison of mortgage products is a key step in the mortgage switching process;
  • A single point of contact or a dedicated switching team would encourage and assist with the mortgage switching process; and
  • Improvements to the specified timelines around the mortgage switching process are also needed.

The Central Bank now plans to progress its work in this area and will publish a consultation paper in Q3 2017 proposing additional measures to facilitate mortgage switching for those consumers minded to switch. Previous research by the Central Bank showed that borrowers can save significant sums of money by switching their mortgage. The recently published Mortgage Switching Research continues the Central Bank’s work to maintain a strong consumer protection framework for mortgage borrowers and builds on new protections introduced by the Central Bank for variable rate mortgage holders, which enhance transparency and facilitate consumer choice.

This article was published by the Central Bank of Ireland, in their Intermediary Times, May 2017