03 December 2010

Mortgage approvals down, but product choice increased

The official line from the Bank of England is that mortgage approvals declined for the sixth month in a row. A reduction of` 0.4% in October compared to September. However, despite these headlines, nearly 100,000 people were approved for a mortgage and total lending amounted to over £11bn! We still appear to be trying to relate to 2007 figures (£30bn+ per month) and it is unlikely that we will be at that level again for some years yet. We really should be thankful that financial institutions are lending at all!

In comparison, as predicted in an earlier column, mortgage products are rapidly on the increase as we move towards the year end. Moneyfacts report that the number of mortgage products now available to borrowers has grown significantly, with mortgages at 80% LTV, or more, seeing the biggest improvements. At the same time rates continue to fall, with the average two, three and five-year fixed rates all standing at the lowest level seen since records began. At AToM HQ, we’ve seen an increased number of consumers switching from current deals to secure a low long term fixed rate. Some are even opting for a short term low rate tracker. Many lenders are offering free valuations and free legals on remortgages, so the cost of change can be minimal. Some lenders have even re-launched exclusive products via certain mortgage distributors in order to attract new business before the year end. These products tend not to be available on the high street, and a review with an independent mortgage advisor could be time well spent.

Finally, no one really knows what is going to happen to house prices month on month in the current climate, but two separate sources have predicted what they think 2011 will bring. Hometrack, an online automated property valuations company, suggest that house prices will drop by 2% whilst a fall of 3.1% is predicted by the Office of Budget Responsibility, an independent assessment body. Although these are only predictions, and are subject to change, the underlying message appears to be consistent for next year…

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