Evidence of higher home-loan costs comes after Permanent TSB confirmed an Irish Independent report that it will give €1,000 to first-time buyers and existing mortgage holders who switch to it to get lower mortgage rates.

New Central Bank figures show the average interest rate for mortgage holders rose to 2.76pc in November.

This figure includes people on ultra-low tracker rates, along with some 320,000 mortgage accounts on variable rates of up to 4.5pc.

The higher mortgage costs is despite two cuts in the European Central Bank rate last June and September.

Regulators did not give a reason for the more expensive mortgages. There were no increases in variable rates at the end of last year.

But Karl Deeter, of Irish Mortgage Brokers, said the likely reason was because thousands of people had come off cheap fixed rates.

These people would have then reverted to banks’ variable rates, which are high compared with rates offered to first-time buyers. They are also high compared with mortgage rates in the other 18 eurozone countries.

Also, many people who are in mortgage arrears may have had to give up their cheap tracker rate to get a debt deal.

Homeowners on high variable rates now have an option to switch, with Permanent TSB trying to entice those not in arrears with an offer to pay €1,000 towards their legal fees.

The incentive, which is open to customers switching from other banks, is designed to match similar offers by rival lenders.

You have to move your current account to the bank to get the offer.

It was announced on the same day as Permanent TSB reduced its key managed variable and fixed mortgage rates – a move signalled in advance.

Mortgage providers have been under pressure to follow AIB’s surprise move in December to cut variable and fixed mortgage rates, its first such reduction in more than three years.

The switcher market died off during the financial collapse, but analysts say recovering home sales mean more banks are likely to target new customers in the months ahead.

But the Irish Brokers Association warned homeowners considering switching to take independent financial advice before moving mortgage provider.

It said there would be both pros and cons associated with any offer.

Meanwhile, there has been a rise in the numbers who think now is a good time to save money in a bank or credit union, with a third of adults able to save regularly, according to the Nationwide UK (Ireland) savings index.

Irish Independent

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