What is a standard variable rate mortgage?
A standard variable rate mortgage (also known as an SVR or reversion rate mortgage) is a type of variable rate mortgage. The SVR is a lender's 'default' rate - without any limited-term deals or discounts attached.
Who sets standard variable mortgage rates?
A lender can raise or lower its SVR at any time and, as a borrower, you have no control over what happens to it.
Standard variable rates tend to be influenced by changes in the level of the Bank of England's base rate. However, a lender may also decide to change its SVR while the base rate remains unchanged.
Lenders' standard variable rate mortgages typically range from around 2% above the base rate (currently set at 0.5%) to 5% above it or even more.
Pros of standard variable rate mortgages
Until August 2016, the Bank of England base rate had remained at a historic low of 0.5% since March 2009.
On 4 August 2016, the base rate was lowered further still, to 0.25%. It remained unchanged until 2 November 2017, when it rose back up to 0.5%.
Many SVRs remain at relatively low levels - so if your previous mortgage deal has come to an end and you have been transferred onto a low SVR, you may be able to take advantage of that low rate by staying on it and not looking for another deal.
Cons of standard variable rate mortgages
However, this is a very risky strategy - as a lender's SVR offers no rate security. A lender can increase its SVR at any time. Several lenders have increased their SVRs in recent years, sometimes by significant margins.
If you're on a tight budget and are relying on your SVR remaining low, you're in a very vulnerable position. In this case, it's important you try to remortgage onto a fixed-rate deal (which offers rate stability) before it's too late.
Correct as of date of publication.