15 March 2024
Floating interest rate explained
Lisa Grondsma
Financial Specialist

Imagine you are about to apply for a mortgage in the Netherlands and are presented with two interest rate options: fixed and variable (floating) rates. This article explores the differences between these options and explains how variable interest rates work.

What are the differences between variable ( floating) and fixed interest rates?

A floating mortgage interest rate, also known as a variable or adjustable rate, can fluctuate over time based on changes in the market interest rates or other predefined factors. Unlike a fixed-rate mortgage, where the interest rate remains constant for the entire mortgage term, a floating-rate mortgage allows for periodic adjustments.

The adjustments in a floating rate mortgage are typically tied to a reference interest rate, such as the prime rate or a specific financial index. As the reference rate changes, the mortgage interest rate also adjusts accordingly. This can result in changes to the borrower's monthly mortgage payments.

In comparison, a fixed interest rate stays fixed throughout the term, which can be 5, 10 or 20 years. Put, if you take out a variable (floating) interest rate, your repayments will differ throughout the mortgage period. In contrast, if you take out a fixed interest rate, your repayments will stay the same throughout the fixed term.

Which factors influence a floating interest rate?

  • Local mortgage lenders may adjust interest rates based on factors such as changes in the overall economy, inflation rates, and the central bank's monetary policy. When the economy is thriving, lenders may raise rates to mitigate inflation risks, while during economic downturns, they may lower rates to stimulate borrowing and spending. Additionally, individual lenders may consider their financial health, competitive market conditions, and the creditworthiness of borrowers when setting mortgage interest rates.

  • The European Central Bank (ECB) influences interest rates in the Eurozone based on macroeconomic factors. During periods of economic growth, the ECB may raise interest rates to prevent inflation, while in economic downturns, it might lower rates to stimulate borrowing and investment.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of floating interest rates?

Advantages Disadvantages
• Possible savings: You can save money on monthly repayments as they decrease due to interest rates decreasing. • Cost increases: your repayments will increase whenever interest rates rise due to market changes.
• Lower initial rates: The introductory interest rates of a floating interest rate are often lower than those of a fixed interest rate. • Uncertainty: as a borrower, you will have less certainty regarding the amounts of your monthly mortgage repayments.
• Flexibility: Variable interest rate mortgages provide more flexibility by allowing you to pay off your mortgage early. • Limited options: borrowers might encounter fewer mortgage lenders and options in the Netherlands if they use a variable interest rate.
Which is better: a variable or fixed interest rate?

Variable interest rates offer the potential of paying lower initial interest rates if you take out a mortgage during a period of low-interest rates. Therefore, a variable interest rate can save you money on repayments when interest rates decline. However, this comes with the risk of increased repayments whenever interest rates rise.

On the other hand, fixed rates provide consistency in monthly payments regardless of economic fluctuations. This can make financial planning easier for borrowers by ensuring that agreed repayment amounts stay the same over the mortgage period. However, if you take out a mortgage during a high-interest period, you risk overpaying on interest for a large part of your fixed-rate term.

Which one should I choose?

It all depends on your situation. In some cases, variable interest rates are recommended when interest rates are low or if you expect interest rates to decrease over the mortgage period. If you prefer certainty in your financial planning or expect rising interest rates, fixed interest rates will provide stability and predictability throughout the mortgage term.

Therefore, we recommend contacting our advisors at Mister Mortgage for personalised advice on your mortgage decisions.


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Meet the team
Robin Uijtdehaage
Client Director & Financial Specialist
Lisa Grondsma
Financial Specialist
Sezer Yilmaz
Egle Kemezyte
Growth Marketer