27 August 2015

69% of all mortgages written by advisers!

The importance of mortgage advice has never been greater and it is an interesting fact that, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, 69% of all mortgages were written through professional advisers during the second quarter of the year. This is a substantial uplift on previous quarters and there are probably a number of reasons for this including long delays we are advised are happening with some lenders both in interview availability and processing times. 

The professional mortgage adviser reviews the whole market for you and can identify the best lending options and then deal directly with the lenders central processing units, speeding up the process from application to offer. That said, even in this area we know of at least one lender that is eleven days behind on post or electronic updates. A good adviser will listen to your specific needs and timescales and ensure that they line you up with a lender who will match both. So, if speed is crucial then you may need to consider working with a lender where the rate may not be the keenest on the market but where you get what you want. Your adviser will discuss this in detail with you before you make any decision.

On a different subject, a number of mortgage lenders are looking ruefully at their performance against target for the current calendar year and casting sideways glances at their competitors. At the start of the year, no one was really sure what the effect of the 2014 Mortgage Market Review would have. A number of lenders are, allegedly, well below target and we will probably see a price war in the next few months as they look to gain ground before the year end

20 August 2015

Rates are creeping up...

Panic Panic Panic.........ok, so that's a little dramatic!  However, we have seen a number of lenders increase rates over the last few days.  TSB, Halifax, Nationwide, Virgin Money, NatWest and Coventry Building Society are just a few who increased their rates on various product offerings.  We have seen SWAP rates (the mechanism through which lenders can acquire a fixed price for funding over a specific period of time) start to creep upwards and as such lenders are re-pricing accordingly.  Despite my headline, I don't believe it is really time to panic just yet.  Many pundits are suggesting middle of 2016 before we see a true rate rise.  Just keep an eye on things if you are looking for a long term bargain.

What we have seen recently are lot of enquiries to remortgage for home improvements.   Increasing the value in your property can involve large renovation, adding a room or two and a general investment in time and builders.  That said, with house prices booming in the local areas, many have decided to look at cosmetic changes.  So up-grading kitchens, bathrooms, redecorations and so on.  Whether small or large, the investment in property can bring rewards to the value and if you are staying put, reward in the satisfaction of home comfort.  Plus a potential large saving in stamp duty too versus moving home!

We have also seen an increase in customers looking to consolidate debt or even look at debt management plans.  Both can sometimes cause issues. If you consolidate unsecured credit in to your mortgage, although your monthly payments may be lower, you may be paying more interest for your debt over a longer term.  With debt management plans, or Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVA), etc, again, the lower monthly payments may help in the short term, but you may well find it hard to gain an approval from a lender to refinance at a later date.  Lenders tend to shy away from debt management plans and may not consider anyone who has been in an IVA unless it has been discharged for more than three to four years. Advice should always be sought before entering in to these types of arrangements or agreements.

13 August 2015

Sometimes a conversation with a human being is just what is needed!

Over the last few weeks, we have seen a number of lenders who have post positive half year results.  Many stating that they have increased lending against their previous financial year.  But this is hardly surprising as many didn't want to lend (or maybe were not allowed to!) post the new regulation implementations in early 2014.  However, it is important to run with the positive news and such announcements on half yearly figures show that lenders are now keen to lend and are looking at ways to compete in an active market.  What this means is that end consumers should be able to bag a bargain for some time yet whilst rates remain low and competitive.  Some industry pundits are even stating that it will be the middle of 2016 before they expect any rate rises...

This has also resulted in a swing between the high street and niche lenders.  The smaller lenders are stealing market share from the 'super tankers' on the high street as an increasing number of consumers are requiring a manual and human assessment rather than a computer decision making system.  Despite all of the available technologies in the current climate, sometimes a conversation with a human being is just what is needed!

From where we see it, on the front line, I would dare to suggest that consumer confidence appears to be the highest it has been for some considerable time.  People are selling, people are buying and many are remortgaging!  August is never normally this busy!  It is not just one geographical area either, although does appears to have a leaning to the south. What does seem to be apparent is that the demand is for ‘all types of mortgages' for all types of people!   From the straight forward, to the complex, to the commercial shop front, to the credit issues, to the first time landlord investing in their first Buy to Let property and so much more, we are seeing many different scenarios.

Finally, Nationwide House Price index has indicated that House Prices increased in July by 0.4% compared to June and 3.5% over the last twelve months.  The average house price now sits at £195,621.

06 August 2015

New entrants to the Buy to Let market!

With the rental market continuing to be buoyant, and with no signs of declining, the mortgage market is active as lenders recognise the huge demand for Buy to Let (investment property) mortgages.   These can be from a first time landlord, right through to the experienced House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) / Student Let portfolio investor.   Deposit requirements can be as low as just 15% and as this sector has also recently been through a price war, rates are competitive (some now sub 2%) and may also come with packaged deals, such as free valuation and free legal costs.

But with so many lenders now in this sector, rates may not remain the main area of competition for much longer! Some lenders are also reviewing criteria in order to attract new business.  Many lenders historically would not allow first time landlords, anyone earning an income less than £25k per annum, those who have more than ten properties, or those who may have had previous blips on credit history, to give you a few examples.

However, we have seen recently that criteria and attitudes are being relaxed and lenders are having to compete to attract more business.  There are also a large number of new entrants to this market including Foundation Home Loans, AXIS Bank, Fleet Mortgages and Pepper Home Loans to name just a few.  Each have launched their own niche propositions and are looking to attract a certain type of Buy to Let customer.

Buy to Let properties will often provide a modest monthly return over and above the mortgage payment.  The additional amount can be used to supplement income, or, with flexible mortgages, can be used to "overpay" the mortgage and reduce the term.

Most lenders in this sector will require the rental income to exceed the mortgage payment by up to 125%, normally at a marginal rate of circa 5% and, after costs such as managing agents, this should leave some spare cash to cover repairs, maintenance and landlords insurance. It should also enable a fund to be established to cover the mortgage payment in the event that there is no tenant in situ for a while. Remember that, whatever the deal, lender terms and conditions will always apply.