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Value of new mortgage commitments reach highest level since 2007

The value of new mortgage commitments was up 24.2% annually to reach £87.7bn, and is at the highest level since 2007 according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The quarterly mortgage lending statistics data also shows that the outstanding value of all residential mortgage loans was £1,541.4bn at the end of Q4 2020, 2.9% higher than a year earlier.

The value of gross mortgage advances in Q4 2020 was £76.6bn, 4.2% higher than in Q4 2019.

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Since the beginning of 2007, am estimated 340 regulated mortgage lenders and administrators have been required to submit a Mortgage Lending and Administration Return (MLAR) each quarter, providing data on their mortgage lending activities.

The FCA and the Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA) both have responsibility for the regulation of mortgage lenders and administrators so this data publication is joint.

Jonathan Stinton, head of intermediary relationships at Coventry Building Society, said: “The highest volume of mortgage commitments since 2007 has been fuelled by the stamp duty holiday.

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“It not only means that brokers will have a very healthy pipeline of business throughout the start of this year but also there is plenty of momentum in the market.

“The stamp duty holiday extension until the end of June should help to maintain high volumes but brokers need to be mindful of the time it takes for offers to complete. New buyers or movers need to have contingency plans in case they miss the June deadline and are faced with a tax bill.

“The huge numbers in Q4 have been fuelled mainly by movers and first time buyers but there is still a large market out there for remortgage business.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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UK mortgage approvals reach highest level since 2007

The number of mortgage approvals reached their highest level since 2007 last year as buyers took advantage of the stamp duty holiday.

The housing market remained resilient in the face of volatility and essential closure of the market during the first lockdown.

There were 818,500 mortgage approvals over 2020, up from 789,100 the previous year, according to Bank of England data released today.

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There was a significant uptick in lending in the second half of the year after a record low of 9,400 approvals in May. Borrowers rushed to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday introduced over the summer.

Although approvals fell back to 103,400 in December, down from 105,300 in November, it was still the highest level since August 2007.

Former RICS residential chairman Jeremy Leaf is not complacent: “While these figures are always a good indicator of direction of travel for the market, we won’t be getting carried away, not least because the year’s lower for these approvals appeared a couple of months after the first lockdown.”

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Additionally this level of momentum is unlikely to be sustained as the stamp duty holiday winds down at the end of next month.

Samuel Tombs, Pantheon’s chief UK economist predicts the vaccine rollout will also mean “people will be content again with their pre-pandemic housing choices by the summer.”

The BoE’s data also showed that consumers paid down a record £16.6bn in debt last year as spending options became limited during lockdown.

“An overall reduction in consumer debt, combined with high levels of cash savings, and pent up demand for holidays, meals out and other leisure activities, could prove to be an explosive powder keg that will help drive the economy when it finally opens up again,” AJ Bell financial analyst Laith Khalaf says.

By Angharad Carrick

Source: City AM

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Bank of England: Loan values rise by 2.9% annually in Q3

Despite a decreasing share of high loan-to-value (LTV) borrowing, mortgage lending remained strong in Q3 with the outstanding value of residential loans up 2.9% compared to a year earlier.

The Bank of England’s (BoE) latest quarterly mortgage lending data revealed there were £1,527.3 billion of mortgages outstanding at the end of Q3.

Meanwhile the value of new mortgage commitments – which is lending which has been agreed to be advanced in coming months – went up by 6.8% when compared to the same quarter in 2019. It reached £78.9 billion, according to the BoE, which is the highest level since 2007.

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The value of gross mortgage advances during the quarter was down 14.7% on Q3 2019 at £62.5 billion.

What’s more the proportion of mortgages advanced during the quarter with LTVs of 90% or more were 3.5% which is 2.4 percentage points lower than a year ago.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “This is no real surprise with many lenders pulling back from this market, and it is only just starting to recover, which is good news for first-time buyers in particular.”

Commenting on the rest of the data he added: “The Bank of England figures show a strong lending market, as we have seen on the ground, with new commitments for the coming months some 6.8% higher than a year earlier.

“There is plenty of business in the pipeline which is working its way through as buyers try to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday. As long as they use good advisers – a mortgage broker and a switched-on solicitor – this should be possible, despite some scaremongering that they are already too late.”

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A ‘precarious’ market

But Karen Noye, mortgage expert at Quilter, thought today’s data painted a ‘precarious’ picture of the housing market at the moment.

“The market is clearly burning bright thanks to the fuel poured on it as a result of stamp duty cut but whether the fire can keep blazing is yet to be seen,” she said.

“The continued increase in house prices is likely to be unsustainable and if the stamp duty holiday is dropped in March and significant economic headwinds as a result of the pandemic start to bite, we may see a very different picture with borrowing and lending being significantly curtailed.”

Noye thought the fact the value of new commitments had increased by as much as 6.8% was ‘worrying’ and ‘should ring alarm bells’.

“While it would be foolish to draw comparisons between the mortgage market now and the one back when the financial crash hit in 2008, we are dealing with unchartered waters and it is worth proceeding with caution,” she said.

By Kate Saines

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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Struggling to get a mortgage? Try a broker… or a small lender

It’s mayhem in the mortgage market at the moment due to a paperwork backlog at banks and pent-up demand from the lockdown.

Lenders are making changes to their home loan deals with little or no notice to limit the amount of business they take on.

So that cheap rate you were eyeing up could quite easily be gone tomorrow. Or the terms and conditions may change suddenly, meaning you no longer qualify for a loan you thought had been secured.

Here are four other places to turn if you are caught up in the chaos…

SMALLER LENDERS

Lee Hockins, from Summit Wealth financial advisers, says: ‘It’s virtually impossible at the moment to get a mortgage at 95 per cent loan to value and there are only a small number of lenders offering 90 per cent mortgages – and none of the big ones.’

Lloyds, NatWest, Barclays, Santander, TSB and most recently HSBC have all pulled out of the market for mortgages with a deposit of 10 per cent or less, hammering first-time buyers.

The good news is that smaller regional building societies may be able to help.

Many still assess applications manually, unlike big banks which often use automated underwriting technology which can result in a computer-generated rejection.

Having your application assessed by an individual means your specific circumstances can be taken into account. Try the Buckinghamshire, the Penrith and Stafford Railway.

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BANK OF MUM AND DAD

Popular mortgage deals that allow parents to help their offspring on to the ladder are being cut back too.

But the Bank of Mum and Dad isn’t entirely closed.

After Lloyds shut its Lend a Hand mortgage to new applicants, the main mortgage designed for parental help is Barclays’ Family Springboard deal.

This allows a family member or friend to put at least 10 per cent of the purchase price in a savings account with the bank in place of a deposit.

Ray Boulger, of mortgage brokerage John Charcol, says: ‘The Barclays Springboard mortgage is the best of the deals for people who are getting help. It’s really good value for first-time buyers with either a small or no deposit, who has someone who wants to help but also wants to keep control of their funds.’

Tipton & Coseley Building Society has launched a Family Assist mortgage offering up to 100 per cent loan-to-value mortgages for buyers, so long as a relative has a 20 per cent charge on their own property or puts 20 per cent of the amount borrowed into a savings account.

But some are limiting the amount of outside help allowed. Nationwide recently changed the criteria for gifted deposits, so borrowers who want a 90 per cent loan-to-value mortgage can only be given 25 per cent of the deposit, meaning they have to provide the rest themselves.

A BROKER ON YOUR SIDE

With banks launching and ditching mortgage deals on an almost daily basis, a broker can really prove their worth.

Not only do they often get tipped off in advance when a deal is about to be pulled, they are clued up on the specific criteria that each lender will look for in your mortgage application – and can stop you wasting time. Brokers will also have a good idea how stretched a bank’s mortgage department will be, helping you avoid disappointment when demand is high.

TRY A LIFETIME MORTGAGE

For the over-55s who are retired or approaching retirement, an alternative option is a so-called retirement interest-only mortgage. Boulger says: ‘With these deals, the eventual sale of the property can be used as the repayment strategy.

‘So lenders assess whether you can afford the loan on the cost of paying the interest only in retirement, as opposed to a repayment deal where you have to pay back some of the capital each month.

‘The downside is that if it’s a joint application, lenders have to decide whether, after one partner dies, the surviving partner would be able to support the mortgage from the remaining income.’

Lenders offering this type of mortgage include Nationwide, Leeds, Bath, Ipswich, Loughborough and Tipton building societies.

…OR LET THE CHAOS PLAY OUT

  • Mortgage rates are expected to remain at current levels for some time – but house prices may not.
  • Many experts believe that while prices are heading up at the moment, there could be a fall back when the stamp duty holiday ends in March next year.
  • Remember, if you are buying and selling at the same time, then a fall in the market is likely to impact both ends of the deal.
  • So you may be no worse off if you wait – and find it easier to borrow the amount you need for your next mortgage.

By Sarah Bridge, The Mail on Sunday

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Strong mortgage lending in first quarter of the year

The first three months of 2020 saw a rise in mortgage lending before the coronavirus lockdown took hold.

Gross mortgage advances in the first quarter of 2020 totalled £65.8 billion, 3.8% higher than in Q1 2019, the latest figures from the Bank of England show.

This takes the outstanding value of all residential mortgages loans to £1,509 billion at the end of March 2020, which is a rise of 3.9% from a year earlier

The value of new mortgage lending agreed to be advanced in the coming months was 6.1% higher than the previous year, at £67.6 billion.

Almost three quarters (73.2%) of the share of gross advances had interest rates of less than 2% above Bank Rate in Q1 2020. This is 10.2% lower than a year ago and was driven by the 65bp cut in Bank Rate in March rather than any significant change in mortgage interest rates.

The share of mortgages advanced in Q1 2020 with loan-to-value ratios exceeding 90% was 5.2%,up by 0.7% from a year ago.

Buy-to-let lending, including house purchase, remortgage and further advance, represents a 14% share of gross mortgage lending, unchanged from Q1 2019.The value of outstanding balances with some arrears increased by 1.8% over the quarter to £13.7 billion, and now accounts for 0.91% of outstanding mortgage balances.

Commenting on the figures, Mark Harris said: “The Bank of England data relates to the first quarter of the year when the impact of Covid-19 had not yet been felt.

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“While this makes it feel very historic, it does show what might have been had the pandemic not hit, with an increase in gross mortgage advances compared with the previous year, as well as the value of new mortgage commitments.

High LTV

Harris continued: “The share of mortgages advanced to borrowers requiring a loan-to-value greater than 90% was 5.2%, an increase on the previous year, illustrating the level of demand for high LTV deals.

“With lenders including Accord, Clydesdale and Virgin Money pulling out of the 90% LTV market this week owing to high demand, after only recently returning when physical valuations were once again allowed, there is clearly a need for the big lenders to commit to this market.

“The number of people taking out high LTV mortgages in the second quarter is likely to fall considerably, not due to lack of demand but lack of products available.

A spokesperson for Virgin Money commented: “We’ve been one of only a few lenders offering 10% deposit products, however we have seen strong increases in demand from customers with small deposits.

“To protect the service for existing customers as well as pipeline applications, we are temporarily withdrawing our 90% LTV products. These products will still be available for existing customers looking to do a product switch. This change means we can continue to focus on providing existing customers with the level of service they’ve come to expect.

Buy-to-let

Referring to the buy-to-let figures, Harris said: “Encouragingly, buy-to-let lending was stable, even though the sector has come in for a lot of change on the tax and regulatory front. Investors are adapting to the new environment and tailoring their portfolios accordingly.

“The impact of tenants unable to pay their rent is providing a further challenge for landlords, although of course this won’t be apparent until the second quarter figures.’

By Joanne Atkin

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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Masthaven: Three quarters of brokers confident of mortgage market prospects

Almost three quarters (71%) of intermediaries remain confident in the mortgage market’s prospects for the next 12 months, despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis, research from Masthaven Bank has found.

In a survey of more than 200 intermediaries conducted in May some 65% said they were confident whilst 6% said they were very confident – a quarter said they were unsure.

Only 3% of intermediaries surveyed said they were not confident in the market’s prospects for the coming year.

Rob Barnard, director of intermediaries at Masthaven Bank, said: “Broker confidence is holding up well and that’s such an important part of the market, as it directly feeds through into the conversations intermediaries are having with customers.

“Now that the housing market has reopened and with the news that mortgage payment relief may be extended to help those customers in need, it’s good to see positive sentiment for the next twelve months from the intermediary community.”

The survey also found that more than half (51%) of specialist lending intermediaries are now using video calls to liaise with their customers, while 42% are sending regular email updates.

A small proportion of brokers have introduced live chat platforms on their websites (4%) or extended their opening hours (2%) since the start of the pandemic.

Nearly a third (32%) of specialist lending intermediaries said that they are recommending lenders based on their access to reliable funding.

Jon Hall, chief commercial officer and deputy CEO at Masthaven Bank, said: “Masthaven has remained open for business throughout the crisis.

“We have continued to work with intermediary partners to ensure they have access to a good range of competitive products.

“We have adapted our service offerings, launching a fee-free remortgage range in response to broker demand and increased our use of AVMs where physical valuations have not been possible. Our offices may be closed but we remain open for business.”

By Ryan Fowler

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Lenders return in week after lockdown

Lenders have reintroduced physical valuations and higher loan-to-value lending after the government gave the green light to restart the housing market in England last week after seven weeks of lockdown.

Accord Mortgages announced today (May 20) that it is accepting residential applications up to 90 per cent LTV following the renewal of physical valuations.

Buy-to-let remortgages are currently available up to 65 per cent LTV, although a spokesperson for Accord said an announcement on this was due on Friday.

Meanwhile, Virgin Money and Clydesdale Bank confirmed “a wider range of products supported with a mix of physical and non-physical valuations” would be introduced next week, including residential mortgages up to 90 per cent LTV and buy-to-let mortgages up to 80 per cent LTV.

Temporary limits on loan sizes and property values will also be withdrawn.

Additionally, physical valuations will be booked in England for pipelines cases with Virgin Money and Clydesdale Bank that require such a valuation.

Some lenders had already resumed offering high LTVs last month. Halifax Intermediaries reintroduced lending up to 85 per cent LTV in April, followed by BM Solutions’ return to buy-to-let lending up to 75 per cent.

Nationwide also extended lending via brokers up to 85 per cent LTV after focussing support on existing borrowers and processing ongoing applications.

Providers had previously withdrawn high LTV lending after the government announced a lockdown on March 23, which effectively brought the property market to a halt.

Additionally, Nationwide has confirmed that valuers will be able to resume physical inspections this week (from May 18) after the government published its new guidance on moving home.

Likewise, Santander announced the following day (May 19) its valuation partners would aim to contact intermediaries’ clients, or the property owner, by May 29 to arrange a date for cases in England that required a physical inspection and had been put on hold.

It anticipated that most valuations will be carried out before June 10.

Santander said it would be holding rates while increasing the maximum loan size to £1m on some residential products, and to £750,000 on its buy-to-let range.

This followed recent changes from Santander such as raising the maximum LTV for residential lending to 85 per cent, and for buy-to-let remortgage products to 60 per cent LTV.

Meanwhile Leeds Building Society is working with Countrywide to complete the “outstanding minority” of valuations on mortgage applications as physical inspections resume in England.

Jaedon Green, chief customer officer at Leeds Building Society, said desktop valuations will continue to be used where appropriate and “for homeowners particularly concerned about social distancing, we’re also piloting external inspections which mean a valuer will still visit their home but doesn’t need to enter it”.

Specialist lenders have also been adapting to market conditions. As well as resuming physical valuations, on May 19 West One Loans relaunched buy-to-let products at 70 per cent LTV, subject to a maximum loan size of £250,000.

For many brokers the renewal of physical valuations is likely to be welcome news.

Andrew Brown, managing director at Bennison Brown, said the main challenge during lockdown was that an estimated 60 per cent of their cases were not suitable for remote valuation.

Commenting on the return of physical valuations and viewings, Mr Brown said: “It is likely to take some time to clear the backlogs and for consumers to gain confidence but it is the first major piece of good news we’ve had for some time.

“We hope this is the start of the recovery of our sector.”

Some advisers had pointed to issues with undervaluations as remote valuations were carried out during lockdown.

Kevin Dunn, director at Furnley House, said some of his remortgage clients, who had properties valued remotely, felt they would have received a higher figure if a physical valuation had been carried out.

By Chloe Cheung

Source: FT Adviser

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Government to extend mortgage payment holidays

Mortgage payment holidays are likely to be extended past June, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is said to be in discussions with the banking sector about an extension.

Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at money.co.uk, said “The government’s initial launch of mortgage holidays brought welcome relief for homeowners who had their income affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

“The scheme, where payment could be deferred with zero negative impact to credit ratings, resulted in up to one in nine homeowners making use of the initiative.

“Though a formal announcement is yet to be made, many businesses are still closed and the full extent of job losses is still becoming clear, so any extension to the scheme will be welcomed.”

As it stands more than 1.6 million mortgage customers have taken a payment holiday.

The government’s furlough scheme has already been extended until the end of October.

Haqqi added: “Should homeowners wish to look into a payment holiday on their mortgage, it’s important to remember that you will still owe the money and interest will continue to accrue while the deferred payments remain unpaid.

“This means that your monthly payments will likely go up slightly after the payment holiday ends.

“While the option to take a payment holiday on mortgages will have been a lifeline for many, if you are still able to make your payments in full, you should continue to do so.”

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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Most brokers think lending will recover to pre-COVID-19 levels within 9 months

Three quarters (77%) of brokers reckon mortgage lending will recover to pre COVID-19 levels within 9 months, while half (51%) believe it will happen within 6 months, research from Smart Money People has found.

Appointed representatives are more optimistic than directly authorised brokers, with 59% of ARs predicting that lending levels will recover within six months, compared to just 37% of DAs.

Michael Fotis, managing director of Smart Money People, said “Tentative steps are being taken to get the economy moving, and many lenders are talking loudly about their appetite to lend.

“That said, with job security likely to be a concern for many consumers, and predictions that house prices may decline by up to 13%, it’s really hard to see customer appetite for new mortgage lending returning until 2021 at the earliest.”

Brokers focused on the equity release market proved to be particularly sceptical of a full recovery, as just 19% felt lending levels will bounce back within six months.

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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EY: Mortgage lending growth forecast to rise 4.1% in 2020

Whilst mortgage approvals rose in December 2019 to the highest level since 2017, overall mortgage lending growth is only set to rise 4.1% this year according to EY.

In its latest ‘EY ITEM Club Outlook for financial services’, EY predicts subdued growth despite the General Election result and clarity on the first stage of Brexit.

Omar Ali, UK financial services managing partner at EY, said: “2020 began with increased political certainty which is positive for consumer and business confidence, and the growth in lending at the back end of 2019 has given cause for cautious optimism.

“However, it is still too early to tell whether these early green shoots will translate into a full and sustained economic recovery this year which will drive growth for financial services firms.

“It is very early days in the negotiations for the new UK-EU trading relationship, with expectations that any financial services deal will be hard fought.

“On top of that, all businesses are facing additional and significant challenges from wider global geopolitical uncertainty and the yet unknown economic impact of coronavirus.

“The industry will be watching how the next few months play out very carefully.”

Year-on-year unsecured consumer credit growth rose in December to 6.1% from 5.9% in November, however the 3.2% growth forecast for this year is the lowest in six years, down from 3.7% last year and significantly down from the 2017 peak of 8.3%.

On the supply side, there has been some tightening in credit conditions in the unsecured lending market.

Having run at an expected 3.7% last year, the growth in stock of consumer credit is forecast to slow to 3.2% this year, before rising to 4% in 2021.

Overall mortgage lending growth is forecast to rise 4.1% this year and 3.9% in 2021, which is close to the average of the last five years and well down on pre-financial crisis rates.

Despite historically low interest rates and accommodative loan-to-value ratios, affordability remains a key challenge for prospective homebuyers.

In Q3 2019, the average house price was equal to 4.7 times the average borrower’s income.

Dan Cooper, head of UK banking at EY, added: “Whilst there are early signs that consumer confidence might begin to pick-up following the General Election, lending growth is expected to remain pretty uninspiring over the next couple of years and the low interest rates will continue to squeeze net interest margins.

“The structural changes taking place in the car market, combined with a sluggish property market and an increasing trend of firms looking outside of the traditional bank borrowing model for finance, are visibly impacting banks’ profitability.

“It’s vital that the banks assess their business models and strategies to ensure they reflect the reality of low lending growth and can continue to ride out this challenging economic time.”

As for home insurers, prices for home policies rose 2.3% in December, up from a recent low of -1.4% in April 2019.

In Q4 2019 housing transactions, an important driver of big-ticket and insurable household purchases, rose 0.7% on a year earlier.

But this followed drops in the previous two quarters and still left transactions below the level in mid-2017.

The housing market has remained subdued however a pick-up in December following the election result has suggested that improved sentiment could give a boost to homebuying.

Overall, the EY ITEM Club Outlook for financial services shows non-life premium income growing 3.1% this year, up from an estimated 2.7% in 2019, before climbing to 3.9% in 2020.

Ali concludes: “A good Brexit outcome will continue to lay positive foundations for future growth, but there are deeper, structural changes and important emerging trends in both consumer and business finance which the industry needs to tackle.

“In this context, financial services firms need to reconsider the role they will play in helping their customers navigate change.

“They have put the customer first in their response to Brexit and now need to do the same on climate change, trade and geopolitical unrest.”

By Jessica Nangle

Source: Mortgage Introducer