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Fixed rate mortgage costs at historic low

Two, three and five-year fixed rate mortgages have all come down in cost over the past 12 months and witnessed some big reductions compared to five years ago, according to Mortgage Brain’s latest product data analysis.

The cost of a 60% LTV, five-year fixed rate, for example, is now 5.7% lower than it was this time last year, while a 60% LTV two-year fix is now 4.1% lower.

In the 80% LTV space, five and two-year fixed rate products now cost 3.2% less than they did at the beginning of January 2019.

Five years ago

The fixed rate market also shows a big improvement in terms of cost compared to five years ago.

Mortgage Brain’s latest data shows reduction in cost for the two-year fixes at 60, 70, 80 and 90% LTV of between 9.8 and 17.8% and the equivalent five-year fixed products have fallen between 12.1% to 14.4%.

Monetary savings

In monetary terms the 5.7% reduction in cost over the past 12 months equates to an annual saving of £432 on a £150k mortgage.

Compared to five years ago, however, borrowers can secure a potential annual saving of £1,584 for the 90% two-year fix, and £1,206 and £882 for the five and two-year 60% LTV products respectively.

While favourable reductions in cost have been seen over the past 12 months and longer, Mortgage Brain’s short-term analysis shows little movement with mortgage costs for the majority of mainstream products remaining static with those offered at the beginning of October 2019.

Comment

Mark Lofthouse, CEO of Mortgage Brain, commented: “Our latest product data analysis shows that while there’s little to get excited about in terms of rate and cost movement over the past three months, the UK mortgage market has seen some big cost reductions over the year and particularly over the last five year

“With mortgage costs down by up to 17.8% compared to January 2015, there are savings across the board that advisers are able to offer their customers. Mortgage costs remain at historic lows and forecasters are predicting that this will continue in to 2020.”

By Joanne Atkin

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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November year-on-year mortgage lending falls

The number of mortgages completed in November 2019 was down by around one tenth on the same time last year for both first-time buyers and home movers, figures from UK Finance show.

There were 30,620 new first-time buyer mortgages, down 10.5% from November 2018, and 30,750 home mover mortgages, a drop of 10.6%. This movement reflects particularly strong home-purchase activity in November 2018.

The value of first-time buyer mortgages was £5,271 million while home mover lending stood at £7,012 million.

Remortgaging

Remortgaging with additional borrowing in November 2019 rose by 5.7% year-on-year to 18,610 cases with the average additional amount borrowed being £51,470.

There were 18,470 new pound-for-pound remortgages (with no additional borrowing), which is down 12.4% from November 2018.

Buy-to-let

Buy-to-let home purchase loans fell in November 2019 to 6,300, which was 4.5% fewer than the same time last year. Remortgaging in the buy-to-let sector was also down, by 5.1% to 15,000 cases.

Comment

Rob Barnard, director of intermediaries at Masthaven, said: “These are mixed figures from UK Finance, however the mortgage market was resilient in 2019, particularly for first time buyers. This slight dip in completions could be a reflection of pre-election jitters. As certainty starts to build around the country, we should see a bounce bank in figures.

“However, the industry needs to ensure they are working to support the market. We need to capitalise on growing positive consumer sentiment and continue to offer products which suit modern lifestyles.

“As we move into 2020, we need to ensure later life and self-employed borrowers also benefit from increasingly flexible and innovative products and rates and we don’t leave any borrower groups locked out of the market”.

Nick Chadbourne, CEO of conveyancing solutions provider LMS, commented: “The continuation of low interest rates and competitive products from lenders ensured 2019 ended with a stable remortgage market.

“LMS data shows the gap between purchases of 5-year fixed rate products and 2-year fixed rate products has been closing steadily in recent months as borrowers take advantage of lower rates in place of longer-term certainty. It will be interesting to see if the balance will shifts one way or another moving into Q1 2020.

“All eyes are on the upcoming base rate decision. It will be interesting to see how lenders and borrowers react if there is a cut, as has been hinted at by prominent policy makers, given that it has been a while since rates last fell.”

By Joanne Atkin

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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Mortgage price war to continue throughout 2020

The so-called mortgage price war that saw lender profits tumble and some banks pull the plug on mortgage lending in the past year is set to continue throughout 2020, brokers have warned.

Luke Somerset, chief commercial officer at broker firm John Charcol, said the sustained pressure on mortgage pricing was “likely to continue into 2020 and beyond”.

Over the past few years a competitive mortgage space has seen lenders cut rates in a ‘race to the bottom’. The average mortgage rate for a 10-year fixed mortgage stood at a record low of 2.76 per cent as at the end of November.

The average two-year fixed has sat below 2 per cent for those with a 40 per cent deposit over the past year while the rates of five-year fixes have also been declining steadily throughout the year.

Mr Somerset said: “Most of the significant news in mortgages in 2019 has related not to economic or political uncertainty, but the ongoing pressure on margins for lenders.

“Some big names have been forced to throw in the towel in 2019 with the likes of Tesco Bank withdrawing their mortgage range. This pressure is likely to continue into 2020 and beyond.”

Tesco pulled the plug on its mortgage lending arm in May, citing challenging market conditions and “limited profitable growth opportunities” as the key reasons.

Looking forward, Mr Somerset said it was “widely assumed” that the money markets had already priced in the impact of Brexit so it was unlikely anything “overly exciting” would happen to swap rates — the rates at which the money markets lend among themselves and to lenders which partly underpin the rates at which consumers can borrow.

He also noted the Bank of England had headroom in terms of the base rate, should the economy need a boost.

Mr Somerset said this interest rate scenario, combined with the fact lenders were sitting on “plenty of capital”, meant lending rates were unlikely to increase beyond a few basis points. He added: “If anything, we may see a few reductions in rates.”

Retail banks are flush with cash due to a shake up of regulation which came into effect on January 1, 2019. The new Bank of England rules created a firewall between the banks’ investment banking operations and their lending arms to ensure they were still able to lend and consumer money was safe even if a shock hit the banking sector.

With the ring-fence in place, funds which formerly could have been used to back riskier investments are now trapped in the retail environment and being diverted to the mortgage market, which has amplified the price war.

This scenario was not likely to change in 2020, according to Mr Somerset.

By Imogen Tew

Source: FT Adviser

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Remortgaging levels dip after strong period of growth

Remortgaging levels plummeted by 20% in October following a year of strong growth, the latest figures from UK Finance have revealed.

According to the Mortgage Trends Update for October, new remortgages with additional borrowing dropped off by 20.8% compared to the same month in 2018, with 18,910 being completed.

Meanwhile pound-for-pound remortgages, without additional borrowing, also plunged by 20% in October when 20,660 of these completions were recorded.

First-time buyer mortgages were more buoyant, with numbers up by 2.8% to 32,260 and there were also 33,370 home mover mortgages, which was up 4.2% when compared to the same month a year earlier.

In the buy-to-let market, figures were down slightly in October compared to the same month in the previous year. UK Finance reported there were 6,600 new buy-to-let home purchase mortgages, a dip of 1.5%.

Meanwhile, 16,200 buy-to-let remortgages were completed, down by 2.4% compared to October 2018.

Resilient market

Kevin Roberts, director of Legal & General Mortgage Club, described today’s figures as ‘mixed’ but pointed out they came at the end of a resilient year for the mortgage market.

He revealed the mortgage club had seen completion levels reach an all-time high in October. And he added: “Thousands of first-time buyers are continuing to take advantage of competitive rates to make the move into homeownership.”

Meanwhile, Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said the fall in remortgaging numbers suggested many of those borrowers who needed to refinance had already done so and taken advantage of the cheap rates available.

He added: “First-time buyers continue to prop up the housing market with their numbers continuing to grow.

“Home mover numbers also edged up as those buyers brave enough to ignore political and economic headwinds got on with the business of moving.”

Many in the industry agreed the mortgage sector had clearly braved the Brexit uncertainty in October. They were keen to offer their views on how things would progress now there was more clarity following the Tory win in the general election.

Daniel Hegarty, founder and CEO of Habito, said its own analysis revealed online searches for getting a mortgage in the UK were up 113% over last Saturday and Sunday combined, compared to the same period in the previous week.

He added: “We’ll wait to see if this initial surge of online interest is backed up with more mortgage submissions and an increase in home-buying activity in early 2020. But, the very early signs look positive.”

By Kate Saines

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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UK Finance: Mortgage approvals rise

Both mortgage approvals for purchases and remortgage approvals rose in October, the UK Finance Household Finance Update has revealed.

Mortgage approvals for home purchases by the main high street banks in October were 3.0% higher while remortgage approvals were up 12.7%.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “As we head towards the end of the year, and lenders jostle for what business there is out there, there are some incredible deals on the market to attract borrowers.

“There was an uplift in people taking advantage of these, with mortgage approvals for home purchase some 3% higher than October last year, while remortgage approvals were 12.7% higher.

“Gross mortgage lending has fallen slightly compared with last October, reflecting perhaps the high level of uncertainty that continues to hamper the housing market as a whole.

“Until the General Election result and Brexit are settled, it looks unlikely that the lack of confidence this is instilling in the market will change.”

Andrew Montlake, managing director of Coreco, said the high street banks have got cash to burn at the moment, so it’s no surprise to see their share of mortgage lending increase.

He added: “The price war on the high street continues to rage and consumers are making the most of it.

“Buyers and homeowners alike are being driven on by the ridiculously low rates available, especially medium- to long-term fixed rates, which will help them ride out the uncertainty that the years ahead will bring.

​”Despite the manifesto rhetoric from both sides of the political spectrum, consumers don’t believe that anything will markedly improve in the housing market and question some of the promises made around house building and affordable homes.”

Gross mortgage lending across the residential market in October was £25.5bn, 0.9% lower than in the same month in 2018.

Sam Harhat, head of financial services at Andrews Property Group, said the Brexit tempo increased significantly in October and yet buyers and homeowners showed the same level-headedness they have throughout most of 2019.

He said: “Activity levels aren’t off the scale, but the property market is ticking over exceptionally well given the political environment we’re in.

“Remortgage activity remains particularly strong as people seek to lock into a lower rate before we leave the EU.

“5-year fixes are proving especially popular as they offer a robust hedge in the medium term.

“Mortgage approvals are also up slightly, as Brexit makes prices more affordable and people, especially first-time buyers, make the most of the competitive rates available.

“Aware that the current uncertainty is their window of opportunity, first-time buyers are particularly active at present.”

John Goodall, chief executive and co-founder of buy-to-let specialist Landbay, added: “While these figures are disappointing, they come as no surprise, considering the economic and political pressures the market has been facing.

“The reality is that lenders are (and have been) ready and willing to lend, instead it’s would-be buyers who need that final nudge to make their move.

“Looking forward, with the election looming, we may finally see the cloud of uncertainty begin to lift – assuming there is a clear parliamentary majority.

“If this does happen, we could see a spike in demand as those who were holding off in recent years consider making their move in 2020.

“With their genuine appetite to lend, lenders will be gearing up to facilitate any increase in demand.”

Jonathan Sealey, chief executive, Hope Capital, said that although the main banks continue to take the lion’s share of mortgage lending, it appears that borrowers are looking at alternatives to find the funds they need such as bridging finance.

He said: “Confidence is still being knocked by the uncertainty of what will happen as far as Brexit is concerned and the purchase market has stagnated.

“As a bridging lender we are seeing more borrowers and investors looking for finance to refurbish and improve property rather than moving or selling.

“It appears that until things are finally sorted out homeowners and property investors would rather sit tight, only moving or selling if they have to rather than because they want to.”

By Michael Lloyd

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Brexit and mortgages: how to protect your mortgage against interest fluctuations

What is happening with Brexit and mortgages, and is there a way you can safeguard yourself against the unpredictable effects of Brexit on your repayments? Moreover, given the latest projections of further interest rates cuts by the Bank of England, should you be looking at remortgaging to find the best mortgage deal?

For first-time buyers and those who are coming to the end of their fixed-term period, the announcement that interest rates are likely to remain low will come as a relief – a sudden hike in interest rates resulting in more expensive mortgages is highly unlikely at least in the next year. People remortgaging now are still going to enjoy historically record low interest rates on their mortgage repayments. However, do bear in mind that the rules for remortgaging still mean that you would have to be able to make the repayments if the interest rates were to rise.

The longer term prognosis for what’s going to happen to interest rates remains far less certain. There are two main scenarios you need to bear in mind as a mortgage holder: one is an economic recession, while the other is a strong economic recovery (following, for example, a successful Brexit deal negotiation or the UK revoking Article 50).

If the former were to happen, say as a result of the UK crashing out of the EU without a coherent deal (still a possibility despite the current delay), the pound could take a hit. While this would again mean low interest rates to try and stimulate the economy, it could also mean a loss of jobs – which, of course, would render low interest rates meaningless to someone who is unemployed.

To safeguard your mortgage against this case scenario, it’s a good idea to: 1) reduce your debt; 2) increase your savings; 3) consider income protection insurance that would give you a safety net for your mortgage repayments in case you were to be out of work or have to take on lower paid work.

In the case of an orderly Brexit (or no Brexit – who knows?) and the UK economy regaining confidence, we can expect wage growth. When that happens, inflation rises, which leads interest rates to rise too. Hopefully, in this case scenario, your salary will increase in line with interest rate rises, making mortgage repayments manageable. However, having a decent savings pot for this case scenario is still a good idea – as is being prepared to downsize in case you live in a property with a large mortgage.

BY ANNA COTTRELL

Source: Real Homes

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Brexit and mortgages: what next for interest rates and repayments?

What’s next for Brexit and mortgages? Will mortgages become more expensive, and should you remortgage now?

What’s going to happen now with Brexit and mortgages, since the EU has agreed to grant Britain a three-month extension? How does this decision affect potential and current home owners, up to January and beyond? Will we see much of a fluctuation in the Bank of England’s base interest rate, and with it, cheaper or more expensive mortgages?

Martijn Van Der Heijden, Chief Strategy Officer at online mortgage brokerage Habito, comments on the implications of the Bank of England’s decision last month not to raise interest rates:

‘Interest rates remain relatively low which will be welcome news for those looking to get a good deal on their mortgage. This “wait and see” approach from the MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) is something we also see reflected in our own data with a surge in buyers choosing fixed deals for five years or more as they try to “Brexit-proof” their mortgage and lock in the same rate until 2024 and beyond.’

Basically, whether you are first-time buyer or remortgaging, now is the time to lock in a good fixed rate mortgage deal – if you don’t mind losing out somewhat in case the interest rates fall even lower than the current level. Why might that happen? It all depends on how the final Brexit deal is negotiated, and how smoothly it is executed. In the still possible event of Britain not securing a deal, the pound is likely to fall, and inflation will rise, which could lead the Bank to slash the interest rates even further. If this happens, and you are on a variable rate mortgage, you could see your repayments fall.

On the other hand, in the event of an orderly Brexit and a strengthening economy, interest rates could rise, which would be good news for your savings and wages, but not so good news for your variable rate mortgage repayments. A fixed rate deal would protect you from any significant interest rate spike, at least for a few years.

Which scenario is more likely? The truth is, nobody knows. We would say, though, that taking out a variable rate mortgage might not be worth the gamble under current uncertain circumstances – you could win a little, or lose big, so a good fixed rate deal will at least allow you to relax a little, for a while.

BY ANNA COTTRELL

Source: Real Homes

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Second charge mortgage market volumes rise by 12%

Second charge agreements were up 12% year-on-year in August, the latest figures from the Finance and Leasing Association have revealed.

There were 2,343 new second charge agreements in August.

The value of new second charge business saw a yearly increase of 10% at £102m.

Fiona Hoyle, acting director general and head of consumer and mortgage finance at the FLA, said: “The second charge mortgage market recorded its 12th consecutive month of double-digit new business growth in August.

“In the first eight months of 2019, new business volumes were 21% higher than in the same period in 2018.”

Richard Tugwell, intermediary relationship director at Together, added: “It’s clear that secured borrowing is growing in popularity.

“People are increasingly recognising it as a cost-effective way of securing funding for a range of needs, from house improvements to debt consolidation, while intermediaries recognise the importance of including a second charge option in their advice and recommendations.

“It is gaining more traction as an alternative to unsecured lending or re-mortgaging where factors such as redemption penalties, existing lender further borrowing policy and short term funding rates make these solutions less viable.”

Martin Stewart, director at The Money Group, commented: “ It is great news for a great product and some of the hard work being done by the industry to educate brokers about second charge mortgages.

“We have not necessarily seen an increase ourselves, our enquiries tend to arrive like buses and then it could be months before we see another one.

“One aspect that we should keep an eye on is whether second charge lenders are advancing because first charge lenders are retreating.

“We are without doubt entering a period of uncertainty and it will be interesting to see who has an appetite to continue lending.”

Robert Owen, managing director of mortgages and bridging at United Trust Bank, said: “It’s pleasing to see continued growth in the second charge marketplace as new products and technology has been brought into the market to improve the customer journey and the service to our brokers.”

Pete Mugleston, managing director at Online Mortgage Adviser, also commented: “We’ve seen an increase in enquiries and customers searching for alternative products to more traditional remortgages, with many homeowners opting to renovate and extend their property over moving and citing reasons such as increased cost (tax), the potential for further house price reduction (buying at the wrong time) and a lack of suitable property on the market to move to.

“It appears as though with the uncertainty around currently, whilst we’re still having record numbers of purchase enquiries, movers aren’t quite sure it’s the right time and more are deciding to stay put.”

Kevin Thomson, sales director at Connect for Intermediaries, believes more education is needed.

He said: “We always look for the best solution for the end client and often a remortgage can be better.

“We feel there is still a lot of education needed for mortgage brokers to really understand seconds and look at second charges and the variety of different purposes they can be used for.”

By Michael Lloyd

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Mortgage approvals drop in August

Mortgage approvals for house purchase declined in August, the Bank of England’s Money and Credit statistics have found.

The number of approvals fell to 65,500 in August, in contrast to the 18-month high of 67,000 in July.

Andrew Montlake, managing director of Coreco, said: “Mortgage approvals for house purchase in August were down on July but held up fairly well once you factor in the seasonal drop-off.

“Three years of delay and indecision have created a phenomenal amount of pent-up demand and that saw house purchase mortgage approvals in August stay at the six-month average.

“Expect mortgage approvals in the Autumn and winter to be even more robust, as mortgage enquiries for home purchase really picked up in September.

“Despite a backdrop of political, economic and now constitutional chaos, the property and mortgage markets are ticking along quite well.

“There may be gridlock in Westminster but most Brits are now getting on with their lives.”

Whilst net mortgage borrowing by households dropped to £3.9bn in August, this followed a strong net flow of £4.5bn in July.

This was in line with the average seen since 2016.

The annual growth rate was unchanged at 3.2%, which is also in line with growth rates seen in the past three years.

Rob Barnard, sales director at Masthaven, added: “We have seen a downturn of lending in August, which may be in part led by the continued political uncertainty and the heightened chance of a no deal Brexit.

“However, despite the fall in net mortgage borrowing, the appetite for purchasing property has remained relatively strong keeping in line with the average seen since 2016.

“It seems that by and large, the market is not too concerned with the political turmoil of late. This is supported by our findings that in our Broker Beat research that found that 89% of brokers are confident about the prospects for their firm.

“The UK is still a desirable place to own a property and lenders are innovating to ease the application process for mortgages to deliver excellent customer service, paving the way for specialist banking to become the new norm.”

Vikki Jefferies, proposition director at PRIMIS, added: “Whilst mortgage lending for August was lower than July’s, mortgage advisers are continuing to do a great job of securing the right deals for borrowers – despite the political and economic uncertainty.”

Kevin Roberts, director at Legal & General Mortgage Club, remained optimistic.

Roberts said: “Wider political uncertainty is undoubtedly on the minds of consumers, but the mortgage market remains strong.

“Housing schemes like Help to Buy and innovation from lenders, such as family support mortgages are giving younger borrowers in particular more options to join the property ladder.

“Competition in the sector is rife and there are also some great deals available for those looking to buy or remortgage, especially if they speak to an adviser.

“These experts can give borrowers access to thousands more mortgages than if they went direct to a lender and 95% of consumers who used an adviser would likely recommend their family or friends do the same.”

Similarly, David Copland, director of mortgage services at TMA, added: “Whilst mortgage lending in August weakened, attractive deals, increased lender competition and the economic climate are incentivising people to act.

“Mortgage advisers are steering borrowers in the right direction and finding the best product for their circumstances.

“Remortgage business is a clear opportunity. Now is the time for advisers to be contacting any customers who are approaching the end of their term.”

Kate Davies, executive director of the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association, said that although mortgage lending remains consistent and stable in the face of ongoing political uncertainty, issues in the market still need to be solved.

She said: “Mortgage lending remains consistent and stable in the face of ongoing uncertainty in Westminster.

“Borrowers are still keen to press ahead with their plans to step onto or up the housing ladder and our research shows that advisers remain confident about the future of the mortgage market.

“However, there are still challenges facing the sector that must be addressed. As a priority, we need to replace the Help to Buy scheme, which has supported over 220,000 housing transactions since 2013.

“The market is already responding by providing more options for first-time buyers, such as higher loan-to-value mortgages, but it can still be hard for younger buyers to meet the stringent requirements of the current affordability rules.

“We need more dialogue between lenders, builders, regulators and the government to forge a coherent policy which supports responsible lending on good quality properties designed for younger buyers and those on lower incomes.”

By Michael Lloyd

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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New research sheds light on mortgage cashback

Stamp duty, home improvements or immediately starting to pay down their new mortgage are all ways homebuyers would spend cashback from lenders, Leeds Building Society has discovered.

The society carried out national research among 1,224 people into mortgage cashbacks to find out whether borrowers valued this option and how they would spend this cash.

There were four top priorities:

25% would use cashback to cover the costs of removals or storage
24% would pay legal or other professional fees
24% would put the money straight into overpaying their new mortgage
23% would cover maintenance or improvements they were expecting in their new home, such as a boiler service.

There was a difference in behaviour between residential purchasers and buy-to-let landlords.

A third of borrowers buying a residential property (32%) were most likely to settle professional services’ bills with their cashback, whereas 51% of buy-to-let purchasers favoured putting the cashback straight into overpaying their loan.

Matt Bartle, Leeds Building Society’s director of products, said: “Everyone’s requirements will be individual to them, which is why we offer different combinations of fees, features and incentives across our mortgage product range.

“For that reason we offer incentive packages which give borrowers plenty of choice, not only on the rate and term of their mortgage, but also to help with the other costs of moving home or remortgaging.

“Building on our market knowledge and long experience of mortgage lending, we continue to test ideas and ask borrowers what they need, so we can develop the product deals and lending criteria which will help more people to have the home they want.

“Of course, borrowers can choose how to spend their cashback and it’s positive to see that people would use the funds to cover costs associated with moving and in some cases overpay to reduce the size of a loan immediately.”

Leeds Building Society has a variety of no fee cashback mortgages available, including:

3.49% two year fixed rate shared ownership mortgage up to 90% borrower share with £500 cashback
2.49% five year fixed rate buy-to-let mortgage up to 60% loan-to-value with £1,000 cashback

By Joanne Atkin

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette