29 January 2010

Out of recession and SVRs on the increase!

Mortgages - an interesting world! Gross mortgage lending is quoted to be up 12.5% year on year. Product offerings are increasing. Moneysupermarket.com indicates 384 products are available to those looking for an 85% loan and 165 for those looking for 90%. The UK is officially ‘out’ of recession! Superb news, so perhaps confidence will start to return in the mortgage sector now?
One point of concern surrounds the activities of some mortgage lenders and their reversion interest rates (rates which apply at the end of an incentive rate period). It appears that, despite mortgages being sold with a quoted interest rate ‘ceiling’ at the end of the incentive term, there may be options in the lenders small print allowing increases above this, and at no notice!
One lender which appears to have made such an increase is Skipton Building Society. Their offers ‘allegedly’ quoted a ceiling of 3% above the Bank of England Base Rate. Their new SVR (from March) will be 4.95%, an increase of 1.45%. This is blamed on “exceptional market conditions”! Ouch! Skipton’s actions have suffered the wrath of the national press and now the floodgates are open for others to follow if they have similar ‘get out’ clauses in their mortgage offers. Nationwide have increased some SVRS through their specialist arms UCB Homeloans (0.30%) and The Mortgage Works (0.50%) respectively. Two smaller lenders have announced a 0.35% increase from February.
What does this mean for you? Check carefully the details of your original mortgage offer. If the reversion rate is the lenders SVR, then it’s likely this will be increasing shortly. If it is a Bank Base Rate Tracker then you are likely to move onto an attractive reduced rate, at least for a while! Whichever, it is a good time to review your contract paying specific attention to the sections relating to reversion rates.
The re-mortgage market is reviving and it is a good time to review the market to see what’s available to you. Lenders seem to display little or no loyalty to you, so you have no moral obligation to them. There are plenty of lenders willing to compete for your business. Call AToM for a no obligation review.

22 January 2010

Credit Card + Mortgage = not good.

A recent report from housing charity Shelter has suggested that as many as one million households are using their credit cards to meet their monthly mortgage or rental payments. This figure represents 6% of homes in the UK, with the charity adding that the problem is growing amongst the middle classes. Without doubt, this is a worrying trend as not only will you be increasing your current debt, you’ll probably be paying interest payments on both your mortgage and your credit card! Shelter have called these figures a “shocking discovery” and warned that in some cases if people were to default on their credit card payments, their homes could be repossessed.
In addition to these striking revelations, Creditaction has reported that 9,300 new debt problems are reported to the Citizens Advice Bureaux and 1,000 people are seeking some formal debt rescheduling plan every day. Therefore, it is unsurprising that in the same report, it is highlighted that a property is being repossessed every 11.2 minutes throughout the UK.
My advice would be not to let the situation get so bad that there is no way back. In the current climate, mortgage arrears are frowned upon as the worst possible misdemeanour. Worse than CCJs, Defaults and other missed payments on credit. Make sure you review your circumstances and take action before it happens. Once mortgage arrears, CCJs or Defaults are registered, every financial institution (including insurance & mobile phone companies) will see these when making decisions on whether or not to lend to you. At the same time, it is likely that any online internet application will fail should you have one of these issues registered against you within the last 12 to 24 months, as nearly all lenders use credit scoring and these inevitably will have a detrimental affect to you score.
To continue the scare mongering, there are only three or so lenders left in the market who will assist clients with adverse credit. The best case scenario is rates around the mid 5%s for historic adverse. The worst case is rates starting from 9.90% with eight, yes eight years redemption penalties to pay if you want to leave them. Therefore, the moral of the story is a simple one. If the going is beginning to look tough, speak to AToM for assistance. Sooner, rather than later!

15 January 2010

Rates down and Lenders are attractive!

Two weeks into the working year and the mortgage market is looking incredibly positive! Many lenders, including Abbey, Chelsea, Coventry, Halifax and Nationwide have reduced their fixed rates recently. Others have increased the amount you can borrow against the value of the property and another lender has launched an 80% tracker rate with no redemption penalties, meaning you can leave when you like at no extra cost. It appears the active lenders are becoming somewhat nervous at the ‘alleged’ number of applications received by the FSA from prospective new lenders as well as the competitiveness appearing between those already there! As a result, increasing market share has become priority and lower rates and competitive products can only be good for all!

We have also noticed a number of lenders becoming somewhat more relaxed in arranging mortgages that don’t fit the normal credit score mould. Some while ago, I mentioned that AToM had re-launched its ‘Complex Prime’ proposition. Complex Prime looks at applications which, ‘for whatever reason’ do not fit the normal high street mentality or need something of a more complex underwriting nature. A short list of examples include applicants with no credit, too much credit, a desire to pay up front or add additional security in the form of another property increasing their ability to borrow more. We have five lenders on our panel already looking exclusively at this scenario for AToM. One has awarded AToM a £10m tranche of funds, so there is no better time to visit our offices in the Carfax, Horsham, to see how we can assist you.

Finally, why not visit our website at www.atomltd.co.uk and review all of our financial offerings. These range from the ability to apply online for mortgages from the whole of market, secured loans, credit cards, right up to switching your mobile phone, gas and electricity bills or simply to review your current insurances. Give it a try, you’ve got nothing to lose, but a possibly a lot to save!

08 January 2010

2010 - time to be positive!

Firstly, a very Happy New Year to one and all! What a way to start……..VAT is back to 17.5%, the Stamp Duty threshold has returned to £175,000, and the fluffy white stuff is causing havoc (and great fun!). As 2010 emerges from the grey of 2009, what portends for the mortgage market as we head towards the Spring? A General Election, more regulation and greater confusion for those looking to step onto the property ladder, or change their mortgage?

The challenge we face in 2010, as a mortgage intermediary, is being able to compete on a level playing field against those organisations that conduct non-advised sales (especially the banks) or who are not independent and do not remotely offer even a representative ‘whole of market’ offering. Whatever your scenario, you need and deserve to be given advice for all products available in the market, not just a chosen few!

The other challenge facing us all is the national debt! The myriad of press and TV coverage will have ensured that we are all fully aware that, whoever wins power in the forthcoming elections, there will be financial pain meted out to the community to engender recovery of this issue which has spiralled massively out of control.

Good news this week in that one of the larger property websites has allegedly reported that, on Monday alone, they received more hits than in the whole of January 2009. Positive news and greatly received so early in the year!

We too, had a positive end to 2009 with more new applicants than for many months. If this is a sign of returning confidence then that is good news all round in the home mortgage sector. Confidence is contagious and is a good thing. Let's start the year that way and, who knows where it might lead us?