News & Insight

Our expert views and commentary on what’s happening in the world of mortgages and sometimes beyond, along with our regular summary of what the papers say.

Guide to negotiating the price of a property

You’ve found the property you want to buy, but now you need to get it for the right price. We understand that haggling on the property price can be tricky... So here are our top tips to help you buy a property at the best possible price. ...

Things to remember when moving home

Moving home is supposedly one of life’s most stressful events, but a bit of careful planning can help ease the strain. Here are some of the things you need to think about when making your move....

Government announces crackdown on leaseholds for new-build homes

Leaseholds on new build-houses could soon be banned under new proposals being considered by the government. The government said that it will consult on whether to prohibit the sale of new build leasehold houses and limit the amount of ground rent that can be charged. ...

First-Timers overtake homeowners

The number of first time buyers over the past year has overtaken the number of home movers for the first time in more than a decade. ...

Interest rates held at 0.25%

The Bank of England left the base rate unchanged at 0.25% in it’s May meeting, but warned that rising living costs and falling wages will mean “challenging” times for many households this year. ...

Leasehold Vs Freehold

If you’re looking to buy a home, it’s vital to understand the difference between buying a property which is freehold, and one which is leasehold. Let us explain the differences between the two, and the financial implications for homebuyers....

What is let to buy?

Let to buy can be an option for those who want to purchase a new home whilst keeping hold of their current property and letting it out. As someone looking to buy a new property, it can allow you to release some equity from your current home and put it down as a deposit on your new one.It’s a popular choice for couples who move in together later in life, perhaps once they both already have their own properties. In this case, you’d both move into o...

How to get a mortgage if you’re self-employed

Applying for a mortgage can be tricky, but if you’re a self-employed worker, freelancer or contractor, you could face extra challenges. Here's what you'll need to get a mortgage as a self-employed person... ...

Five questions to ask when viewing a house

Buying a property is likely to be the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, so it’s vital you choose carefully. Here are five things you should ask when viewing a property....

Advantages of using a mortgage broker

Let’s face it, if you’re buying a home or remortgaging, the huge choice of mortgages available can seem bewildering. Should you go for a fixed rate deal, a variable rate deal, or an offset mortgage? And how much will you be able to afford?...

Explaining the terms - completion and exchange

When buying a property in England or Wales, two of the most important terms to get to grips with are ‘exchange’ and ‘completion’. Only once you’ve done both of these will you be able to get your hands on the keys to your new home. Here’s what you need to know....

Tips to add value to your home

If you’re looking to bump up the value of your property, perhaps with a view to selling it, then the good news is that lots of improvements can be made without breaking the bank. Here are our top tips on how to add value to your home....

Making sense of solicitors’ quotes

You’ve found a property you want to buy and got your mortgage application ready to go, so now you need to hire a solicitor and make sense of their quotes...

4 tips for mortgage money saving

A mortgage is one of the most expensive commitments many of us will ever take out, but even some of the savviest households fail to consider cutting the costs of their mortgage. ...

What the papers say – 6th – 7th June 2015

The Times, Independent and Sunday Times reported this weekend on the latest launch of headline grabbing rates, following the release by a high street lender of a 2 year tracker below 1%. Experts agreed that it was sure to attract attention, but before applying borrowers must consider other factors including set up fees and minimum payable rates (collars).The Independent on Sunday looked at the issues can arise when purchasing an ex-local authorit...

Win a Canvas Print of Your Favourite Game of Thrones Castle!

***THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED*** Thanks to everyone that entered the competition! The winner of the competition is Iain Maciver, who voted for Riverrun as his favourite Game of Thrones castle and will be receiving a canvas print of the castle very soon. Keep checking back to the London & Country blog for more competitions and updates!  Here at London and Country Mortgages, we decided to value seven castles from the hit TV show Game of...

What the papers say – 11th and 12th April 2015

There was a degree of scepticism in this weekend’s Financial Times over the predicted ‘Buy-to-Let Bonanza’ that could follow the recent pension reforms. Research suggests that only the top 7% could afford an outright purchase of an average property costing £180,000, and concerns over taxation are likely to prevent a rush to invest in property.While some older borrowers might be considering entering the Buy-to-Let market, the Telegraph revealed th...

Why do we pay Stamp Duty?

Stamp Duty Land Tax is a controversial issue for some. Originally introduced as a historic tax in 1694, it is something that is unavoidable if you are buying a house.You must pay this tax by the official moving-in date (or possession date) of your new home.The stamp duty that we recognize today was first introduced in 2003, and has just undergone the biggest change since it was introduced. How does stamp duty work? If involved in the purchase p...

What the papers say – 7th – 8th March 2015

The financial press reported this weekend on Government plans to launch a ‘Starter Homes Initiative’ – aimed at helping First Time Buyers aged under 40 onto the property ladder, by allowing them to purchase a New Build property at a 20% discount and with a 5% deposit. Experts in the Times expressed concern however that there will not be enough high Loan-to-Value mortgages available to support the initiative , particularly as most are currently pr...

What the papers say – 17th to 18th January 2015

The financial press took a look at different aspects of the Buy-to-Let market this weekend. The Times reported on recent research which revealed that around 16% of those who will be cashing in their retirement pots following April’s ‘pension freedom’ reforms plan to invest in Buy-to-Let property. While this may be a way to generate income into retirement, experts warned that potential investors need to understand the implications regarding income...

How to work out mortgage repayments - and why you should before buying your first home

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen buyers make over the years is not working out how much their mortgage repayments will be before they go looking at properties.One of the most common things that a lot of first time buyers do is fall head-over-heels in love with a property without considering all the factors involved; like interest rates, charges, legal fees or their monthly outgoings.Buying a house is probably going to be the biggest purchase...

What First Time Buyers should know about saving for a deposit

Being a first time house buyer is a daunting prospect. There’s a mine of information to get your head around, lots of financial terminology, and most crucially - a lot of saving to do. As it’s your first time, it’s all new to you, of course. But everyone has to start somewhere, right? And hopefully, it’ll lead to the home of your dreams, so it’s well worth the budgeting and planning. How much am I likely to need? One thing that’s for certain is...

10 Point Checklist for First Time Buyers in 2014

There have been so many changes to the property market within the last few years, that for first time buyers coming into the market right now, it’s like a whirlwind. Knowing the right places to look; the appropriate checks to ensure you do; and the changes in mortgage rates and house prices; it’s almost like you need a degree to understand everything involved in the process of buying a house.So here’s a quick guide to the most important things yo...

What the papers say – 28th and 29th June 2014

The recent measures announced by the Financial Policy Committee featured in this weekend’s financial press, with the Financial Times and Mail on Sunday reporting on the potential impact on borrowers. Experts suggested that a cap on the number of loans over 4.5 times income should prevent out of control lending but shouldn’t necessarily affect the willingness to lend, as affordability is now the key to anyone securing a mortgage, rather than incom...

What the papers say – 14th and 15th June 2014

With the Council of Mortgage Lenders reporting that around 67% of mortgage are currently on lender Standard Variable Rates, and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney’s recent comments regarding the potential for rates to increase earlier than expected, brokers are anticipating a busy period for remortgaging. Experts in the Sunday Times predicted a spike in fixed rates and urged borrowers to act now to protect themselves, perhaps by considering a l...

What the papers say – 11th and 12th January 2014

The Observer reported this weekend that a tightening up of rules regarding affordability and the withdrawal of cheap lending will mean mortgages are harder to secure this year. The Mortgage Market Review comes into force in April, and brings with it stricter rules from the Financial Conduct Authority, meaning lenders will be forced to look at borrowers’ finances in greater detail. Homeowners will also be stress tested to see if they can afford th...

Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme is "already delivering"

The Government this week released its first official figures on the new Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme which it launched at the beginning of October, saying that it is "already delivering".In the 4 weeks since it was launched, a total of 2,384 homebuyers have put in offers under the scheme with 10 having already completed.The new mortgage guarantee scheme is available across the UK and can help people buy a new home with a deposit of as li...

What the papers say – 2nd and 3rd November 2013

Lender criteria was the focus of mortgage news in the financial press this weekend, with the Telegraph revealing that lenders are cracking down on borrowers who fail to notify them that they are renting out their properties. Many accidental landlords are trying to avoid being transferred to higher Buy-to-Let rates, so lenders are checking electoral roll registers, social media websites and online letting agencies. The Sunday Times looked at crit...

What the papers say – 5th and 6th October 2013

Mortgage related news focused primarily on the second phase of the Government Help to Buy initiative this weekend, following the surprise announcement that the launch of the scheme was to be brought forward from January 2014 to this week. The Guardian reported that the Lloyds Banking Group, and RBS together with NatWest will be the first lenders to offer Help to Buy schemes, although rates and scheme details have yet to be confirmed. The scheme i...

Government launches mortgage guarantee scheme early in surprise announcement

In March this year the Government announced its new Help to Buy scheme – aimed at helping people to get on or move up the housing ladder with a focus on improving the access to and affordability of mortgages.Help to Buy comes in two parts – the first, launched on 1st April, is an equity loan scheme which sees the Government lend up to 20% of the value of a new build home.  The buyer puts down a deposit of at least 5% and must then find a mortgage...

Onwards and upwards?

A little time has passed since Bank of England Governor Mark Carney announced the new policy of forward guidance for the Bank’s interest rate setting committee, the MPC. So how have the markets reacted in the early days?Here’s a quick recap of the new stance. The MPC will not even think about raising interest rates (or indeed selling any of its purchased assets, what you might call Quantitative Difficulting!) until the unemployment rate drops bel...

What the papers say – 10th and 11th August 2013

Last week’s announcement by Mark Carney, the new Governor of the Bank of England, featured heavily in the weekend’s financial press. His intention to keep base rate at 0.50% until the unemployment rate falls to 7% will spell bad news for savers, but the Times and Sunday Times reported that mortgage rates are likely to remain low in the short term. Brokers suggested that borrowers should take the opportunity to lock into a long term fixed rate, pa...

No win for the MPC

Minutes of the July Monetary Policy Committee meeting were released this morning and make (moderately) intriguing reading. The headline is that for the first time in ages the Committee was unanimous in voting not to increase the Asset Purchase Programme (aka QE, aka printing money), after 5 months on the bounce of seeing three of the nine members voting for more QE. To be fair one of those three was former Governor King who’s no longer there, bu...

New house prices

Figures released by the Halifax today suggest that new build properties have increased in price by 12% in the last five years, now costing on average almost £234,000.In contrast Halifax’s house price index suggests the average overall price in January ’08 was £191,000 compared to £162,000 at the end of 2012 – a drop of around 15%. So it would appear new builds have been significantly outperforming the general market. This may not be a huge surpri...

Britons still ambitious to be homeowners

Recent CML research shows the percentage of the adult population aspiring to own a home is nearing its lowest level in the last 30 years. Despite this, at 79%, it remains the aspiration of the vast majority. 18 – 25 year olds have shown the largest change in sentiment, with a reduction of 10% aspiring to home ownership since 2007 and 3% in the last year. This is a concern for the housing market, as it is first time buyers who provide the stimulus...

Are mates mortgages an option?

Mates Mortgages has become a commonly used phrase particularly when the previous Housing Minister referred to them as a possible solution to some of the woes of aspiring first time buyers. The term sprang from the growing trend of borrowers clubbing together to pool their resources, both in terms of pulling together a larger deposit and generating more borrowing power with two (or more) incomes.There’s nothing difficult about having more borrower...

Budget 2013: New help to buy scheme – how it works

The big news for prospective homebuyers in this week’s budget was the launch of the new help to buy scheme.  It is aimed at helping people buying their first home or move up the housing ladder – specifically those who are struggling to find a big enough deposit.There are two parts to the scheme an “equity loan” and a “mortgage guarantee” and both aim to improve the access to and affordability of mortgages.  Both are also open to a wider audience ...

Springboard to a new home?

Barclays is the latest lender to look at providing an innovative solution to the single biggest problem facing many first time buyers, a big deposit.  As the mortgage market has tightened, lenders have pulled away from offering mortgages to those with small deposits and only a handful offer mortgages to those with just 5% to put down. As a result first time buyers need to typically amass at least 10% of the purchase price.  In addition they can e...

Cost of Renting to Outstrip House Price Growth

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) recently published its housing market forecast for the coming year.  They are not the only one and there are plenty of house price forecasts around at this time of year with many predicting a fairly flat market.RICS is a little more positive in suggesting that there could be an increase of 2% in house prices over the year.  It also anticipates that the number of housing transactions will rise mo...

Life Insurance with Added Extras

Life insurance is regularly purchased on the basis of which insurer can offer the cheapest rate for the cover required; after all, there is only one circumstance when the policy will pay out, which is the death of the policy holder.  However, there are some extra features that can add real value to a life policy which it would be sensible to consider at the point of purchase. Flexibility Flexibility is a key component of any policy. Most people w...

2013 to be a "more stable and positive year" for mortgages says CML

2013 is forecast to be a more “stable and positive year” for both the housing and mortgage markets according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).  In its latest market update it said that lending to first time buyers and homemovers increased in October and it expects the recent improvements to continue into next year.The CMLs figures show a total of 49,500 house purchase loans being advanced in October, up from 43,500 loans in September and ...

Funding for Lending helps improve mortgage rates

Hardly a day goes by without a mortgage lender announcing an improvement to its mortgage rates.  This increased level of competition has on occasion seen some 2 year fixed deals drop just below 2% and 5 year deals below 3%.This improvement in lender appetite has certainly been assisted by the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS).  The FLS was announced by the Bank of England in July and launched in August to provide a source of cheap funding for lend...

Don't forget to FLS

Three months after the launch of the funding for lending scheme, what impact has it had? Government figures showed that at the end of October, 30 lenders had signed up to the scheme – up from 13 at the end of September – which is a decent proportion of the market and in lending terms should cover the vast majority (the notable exception being HSBC who’ve declared they want nothing to do with the scheme). The main consequence so far (as we forecas...

It’s not just tough for first time buyers!

The plight of the first time buyer in the current market is one that is well known but it’s often forgotten that they are not the only sector of the market struggling with the current climate.  Just as first time buyers have to deal with the need for big deposits to access the best rates, so too are some second time buyers.As we hit the 5 year anniversary of the credit crisis, the first time buyers of 2007 may be struggling to make their next mov...

Home affordability at its best for 15 years

Recent figures have suggested that mortgage payments as a proportion of disposable earnings are at a 15 year low for new borrowers.  The calculations from Halifax looked at the typical mortgage payments for someone purchasing a new home and found that, in the second quarter of 2012, they represented just 26% of disposable earnings.That figure has been steadily falling and have nearly halved since the peak of the third quarter of 2007, when paymen...

Homeowners choose improving over moving

A recent survey by Nationwide BS has shown that just under half of homeowners are planning to make home improvements compared to only 8% that are planning to move.  The majority of those planning to make improvements had an update of their decor in mind to modernise the home but almost 1 in 10 cited increasing living space as the reason.These figures are unlikely to come as a surprise to homeowners that have considered moving recently.  The marke...

House prices rocket during the Queen’s reign

We couldn’t break for the weekend without mentioning the Jubilee!  Never ones to miss the chance to produce a stat, mortgage lenders have been looking at house price data over the last 60 years and although it will come as no surprise that they have increased, the scale of the rise is eye-popping.Nationwide’s house price index was first produced in 1952 and indicates that the average house price has risen from £1,891 to £166,022 in the last 60 ye...

What the papers say – 24th – 25th March 2012

The Financial Times and Independent on Sunday reported this weekend on further restrictions to lending criteria. Nationwide and Coventry Building Societies have become the latest lenders to restrict interest-only borrowing to 50% of the property value, and experts suggested that it will be increasingly hard for other mortgage providers to keep their current policies.  Borrowers who don’t meet the equity requirement could consider withdrawing cash...

Demographics, house prices and mortgage design

I had planned to talk about the budget today but for one thing everyone’s at it and for another, aside from the 15% rate on those attempting to dodge stamp duty by buying through a company plus retrospective hits for anyone weaselling out of that (got my inner leftie popping the cork on a bottle of People’s Sparkling Turnip Wine, I can tell you), there was little of interest from a mortgage point of view. I suspect the 7% rate will be largely gre...

First time buyers rush to meet stamp duty deadline

Figures just released by HMRC have confirmed an increase in property transactions in January 2012, up 23% compared to January 2011. This is undoubtedly being fuelled by first time buyers keen to get onto the property ladder before the 24 March stamp duty exemption deadline.The data shows there were 64,000 buyers overall in January, up 12,000 from the same month last year, and the highest January level since 2008.We have seen a similar trend at L&...

Lenders favour buy to let in 2012

We’re almost through the second month of 2012, and what is abundantly clear is that lenders are really keen to develop their buy to let mortgage business this year. This isn’t of course too surprising as there were a number of signs at the end of 2011 that this would be the case.Data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) confirmed there were 84,000 more properties bought with a buy to let mortgage in 2011 than in 2010, and buy to let mortgag...

What’s new in the mortgage market?

The last few years have been a difficult time for the mortgage market and the industry and borrowers alike have become used to the fact that there have been fewer mortgage options available as a result.However there have been some positive moves in the market in 2012 and some mortgage lenders are even showing a degree of innovation.  Just recently Norwich & Peterborough launched a new ten year fixed rate mortgage that it claims to be the lowe...

What the papers say - 14th and 15th January 2012

Despite an uncertain outlook for the mortgage market and a recent increase in rates by lenders including ING, experts in this weekend’s financial press suggested that there are still competitively priced deals to be found. The Times warned however that borrowers should watch out for extra costs attached to ‘best-buy’ rates, as many lenders have increased arrangement fees in order to spread the cost of the deal.  The Sunday Times reported on pred...

The Majority of First Time Buyers Seek Help from Mum & Dad

It will come as no surprise to many that first time buyers have been having a hard time of things recently and figures from The Council of Mortgage Lenders do little to change that view.It has published research of the first time buyer market that helps shed light on just how big an impact the changing mortgage market has had on first time buyers’ ability to get on the ladder.  The tightening in the mortgage market since 2007 has seen lenders req...

Housing equity withdrawal remains in negative territory

Bank of England data released today shows that home owners are continuing to favour paying down their mortgages rather than borrowing more against the value of their homes.  Housing Equity Withdrawal (HEW) for quarter two of this year was again a negative figure of more than £9.1bn.  This compared to -£8.9bn in Q1 – another sign of the difficult conditions for the housing market.There is undoubtedly a reticence among borrowers to increase the siz...

Autumn statement confirms end of stamp duty exemption

This week's Autumn Statement from the Chancellor was not expected to bring much news for the housing market, but it did confirm that the relief on stamp duty for first time buyers would come to an end in March next year.Stamp duty is normally paid on any property purchase above £125,000 but in 2010, a relief was granted to first time buyers purchasing a property up to £250,000.  The aim was to provide help to first time buyers who have continued ...

Credit agency offers seven tips to help you get your first mortgage

Times are still tough for first time buyers and getting a mortgage is often the hardest part of getting on the property ladder.There’s been some good news recently with big lenders like Woolwich and Nationwide relaunching 90% LTV (Loan To Value) mortgage deals for new customers, but a 10% deposit still requires a big chunk of money when you think that the average house price is now around £160,000.If you’re in the process of buying your first hom...

No movement from the MPC, but plenty elsewhere

The Bank of England announced no change to either base rate or the asset purchase scheme at their November meeting, to nobody’s surprise.Having just announced an unexpectedly large round of quantitative easing last month (which will take four months to carry out ), it’s unlikely we’ll see any further move before February 2012 – which, coincidently, will coincide with a quarterly Inflation Report. They do like to align changes with reports because...

What the papers say- 19th October 2011

With poor rates available for savers both the Daily Mail and Daily Express encourage borrowers to explore whether their savings will give a better return if they are used to offset their mortgage debt. They highlight how an offset mortgage works and how rates on offset mortgages, that used to charge a premium for this feature, have fallen and now compare favourably with standard mortgages. The Daily Mail covers the improved options now available...

Bank of England says economic woes may mean higher mortgage rates

After the release today of the Bank of England’s latest Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) minutes, you’ll probably see many scary headlines saying the Bank of England considered even more Quantative Easing (QE, aka printing money) than the £75 billion voted for. £100 billion in fact. Let’s balance that by pointing out that they also considered half that (the minutes cite “a range of asset purchases of between £50 billion and £100 billion”) and, in ...

Building Societies report growth in mortgage lending

The Building Societies Association (BSA) has reported encouraging lending figures for August. Mortgage approvals lifted by 10% on July this year and were up 17% compared with August 2010.  Gross mortgage lending reached an 11 month high in August lifting to £2.1bn and marked an increase of 8% on the figures for August 2010. These figures are indicative of the improved mortgage rates on offer and an increased level of competition between lend...

Mortgage? It all depends on your score

The mortgage lender Kensington recently conducted a survey of brokers to establish where they felt problems arise when placing a large mortgage case.  The results showed that the single biggest factor is lenders applying tighter credit scores to that type of borrower. So what is a credit score and what’s the impact?  It stands to reason that lenders will check a borrowers’ credit record with a credit reference agency in order to confirm the debts...

CML Data Reveals Improvements in Mortgage lending

CML (Council of Mortgage Lenders) data released yesterday showed overall lending for house purchase in July increased both in volume and value versus June, and was at its highest level since August 2010. There were a total of 48,800 home purchase loans with a value of £7.3billion.In addition lending to first-time buyers was at its highest level in a year at 18,200 loans with a value of £2.3billion and remortgages too showed a marked improvement, ...

New 100% mortgage deal available to homebuyers

Earlier this week, Aldermore Bank, the specialist mortgage lender, launched a new 100% mortgage deal which allows first or second time buyers to buy a new home without the need for a deposit.The scheme, called the Family Guarantee Mortgage, offers a mortgage up to 100% of the property value, with any borrowing above 75% Loan to Value (LTV) being secured against the home of a guarantor which can be a parent, step parent or grandparent.If the prope...

Buy to Let is the new black

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) data for quarter 2 of 2011 showed a significant increase in both the volume and value of new buy to let mortgages. The number of buy to let mortgages taken out increased from 27,600 in Q1 to 32,000 in Q2, and value from £2.9billion to £3.5billion.This has undoubtedly been fuelled by a greater demand for private rented accommodation and an increase in the amount of rent achievable. In addition buy to let landl...

Schools a high priority for home buyers

When buying a new home, you’ll often hear that the three key things to consider are, “location, location, location” and that certainly seems to be the case when it comes to school catchment areas, according to new research from mortgage lender Santander.In a recent survey of over 2,000 adults, Santander has found that school catchment areas are more important than ever for homebuyers - over a third of prospective homebuyers with children 10 years...

Cancer Rate Rising in Middle Aged

Recent figures from Cancer Research indicate that the incidence of cancer in the middle aged has risen by more than 20% in a generation.  Its findings indicate that 44,000 Britons were developed cancer in 1979 compared with 61,000 in 2008.This large increase is put down in part to the better screening for the disease, which means that more cases are diagnosed and at an earlier stage.  However, other lifestyle issues such as obesity and alcohol co...

House Prices rise but will our Property Obsession Wane?

The latest Nationwide House Price Index declared that house prices had edged up slightly in July, increasing by 0.2% over the month and giving a fall of 0.4% annually.  It points to the stability in what remains a slow market stemming from the fact that the amount of available property has only risen gradually. Whilst there is bound to be a lot of uncertainty for prospective buyers in the current economic climate that will naturally hold them ba...

What the papers say- 9th and 10th July 2011

Housing Minister Grant Shapps’ call last week for lenders to offer ‘mates mortgages’ to help struggling First Time Buyers prompted a lot of discussion in the financial press. Experts in the Guardian pointed out that most lenders already allow up to 4 applicants to purchase together, but in many cases only the 2 highest incomes are taken into account, so lending power can still be limited. The Independent on Sunday also highlighted the importance ...

Interest free mortgage?

A new proposition was unveiled this week by Castle Trust, a firm that hopes to bring a new type of mortgage to the market and investments that are linked to house price movement. The new ‘mortgage’ will be for 20% of the property value and will not charge any interest or require any monthly repayments.  Instead the borrower must pay back the loan when the property is sold, along with 40% of any growth in the property value. Take an example of som...

Spring brings welcome competition to the mortgage market

As well as warm weather and long weekends, the last few weeks have given us a flurry of activity in the mortgage market and we’ve seen a host of lenders cutting interest rates and reducing arrangement fees – all of which is good news for those looking for a new mortgage deal.The Nationwide Building Society has announced that from tomorrow it is extending its £500 discount on mortgage product fees to all new customers buying a home.  Also this wee...

Sellers return to housing market say estate agents

The number of people putting their house up for sale jumped in February, according to new figures from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).Available stock in the UK housing market saw a 25% year-on-year rise last month with an average of 70 properties available for sale per estate agent branch – up from 56 properties per branch in February 2010.Property sales also increased in February – rising to an average of 8 per branch from 6 pe...

Mortgage affordability at its best for 10 years says Barclays

Mortgage affordability has hit its best level for 10 years, according to new research from Barclays.Having analysed more than one million customer accounts it found that people are currently paying 15.4% of their take home pay to cover their monthly mortgage payment – the lowest level since Barclays began the regular analysis ten years ago.The improved affordability was attributed largely to the current low interest rate environment – the UK has ...

Mortgage lending still subdued, but remortgaging is on the rise

New figures released today by the British Bankers Association (BBA) suggest that the UK mortgage and housing markets remain subdued at the beginning of 2011.Gross mortgage lending at the main high street banks totalled £8.2billion in January - slightly higher than the recent six month average of £8bn and 2% higher than gross lending in January 2010.Mortgage approvals for house purchase were marginally higher than in December, but they remain 29% ...

What the papers say- 19th and 20th February 2011

This weekend’s financial press focused once again on the anticipated rise in interest rates. Mortgage brokers in the Independent, Sunday Express and Sunday Times reported that a lot of borrowers are now looking to secure a fixed rate to limit their exposure to increases, but many warned that they may have already missed the bottom of the market. Fixing is not for everyone of course, and as the gap between fixed and variable rates widens, many may...

What the papers say- 5th and 6th February 2011

The financial press this weekend continued to warn borrowers to move their mortgage ahead of a rise in interest rates. The Times reported on recent research which revealed that 3 million homeowners would struggle to meet their repayments if rates were to rise by as little as 1%, and experts advised against trying to second-guess the market, recommending instead that people should consider how they are equipped to deal with increases in rates. Fo...

Lloyds launches Mortgage Option for Negative Equity Borrowers

Lloyds Banking Group has launched a new option for existing mortgage customers affected by negative equity.  Research from the UK’s biggest mortgage lender indicates that next time buyers, or second steppers as Lloyds has tagged them, face as many challenges as those first time buyers to whom they hope to sell.Having made their first purchase in the last few years, many will now find that their equity has been eroded by falling house prices, in s...

What's in store for house prices and interest rates in 2011?

Looking back on an eventful year, some of the statistics give the impression that not a lot has happened in 2010 – house prices have barely changed since a year ago, the number of mortgages being taken out is much the same as in 2009 and interest rates haven’t budged from their all-time low of 0.5 per cent (in fact the Bank of England has left rates unchanged for 21 months in a row). So what can we expect from 2011?  And what should borrowers be...

What the papers say- 4th and 5th December 2010

There was both good and bad news for Buy-to-let investors in this weekend’s financial press, with the Telegraph reporting that landlords are currently benefiting from record rents, high demand, low interest rates and an increasing number of lenders to choose from. Experts did suggest however that the biggest challenge is still securing finance in the first place due to the requirement for large deposits. The Sunday Times claimed that changes to ...

Are First Time Buyers missing a trick?

Halifax published research this week that points to a lack of awareness of affordable home ownership schemes that could provide a useful alternative to buying a home outright.  Shared ownership and shared equity schemes both offer the ability to cut the cost of taking the first step onto the property ladder. Remarkably, almost three quarters of respondents said they would not consider buying through one of these schemes.  Of those that did see t...

What the papers say- 25th and 26th September 2010

Lenders came under fire this weekend, with both the Mail on Sunday and the Sunday Telegraph discussing accusations of profiteering. Despite the base rate remaining at a record low since last year, mortgage rates have dropped only fractionally, and the average loading on a 2 year tracker is now 3.04%, compared to 0.43% in September 2007, just before the start of the credit crunch. Experts suggested that borrowers should make the most of low rates ...

What the papers say- 17th and 18th July 2010

There was widespread coverage of the new FSA proposals regarding affordability in this weekend’s financial press, with the Times, Telegraph, FT and Sunday Express all considering the impact the new rules will have on mortgage availability. More rigorous financial assessments for borrowers will effectively lead to a ban on self certification and fast track mortgages, and experts warned that credit-worthy customers could be prevented from obtaining...

What the papers say- 10th and 11th April 2010

With the general election creeping ever closer, the financial press were keen to examine the various initiatives offered by the 3 main parties this weekend. The Observer looked at various policies, such as Labour’s promise to target lending via Lloyds and RBS, as well as building another 10,000 affordable homes. The Conservatives plan to set up new local housing trusts and abolish Home Information Packs, while the Lib Dems aim to build more homes...

House Prices

House prices increased by 0.7% in March, almost wiping out Februarys fall of 0.8% according to Nationwide’s latest House Price Index. The report now sets the average UK house price at £164,519, 9% higher than a year ago. The modest increase will be due in part to a lack of new stock coming to the market, rather than a thriving marketplace, especially as the number of mortgage approvals for house purchase dipped sharply in January, and only showe...

Budget 2010 Stamp Duty (part II)

Cutting stamp duty for first time buyers purchasing a property up to £250,000, is expected to cost the Treasury £520 million over the period of the waiver, and from next year those looking to buy at over £1 million will be helping to recoup that loss. From 6th April 2011 the rate of stamp duty on properties purchased for £1 million+ will increase from 4% to 5%, increasing borrowers’ costs by at least £10,000.Unlike the “holiday” for first time bu...

Budget 2010 - Stamp Duty

As expected, today’s budget didn’t cause to many waves as it’s likely to be quickly followed by a general election, but following a number of earlier rumours there was some good news for the housing market.From midnight tonight, first time buyers will not pay stamp duty on purchases up to £250,000, saving them up to £2,500. Other buyers will continue to pay 1% on purchases between £125,001 - £250,000.Like the previous stamp duty holiday the move ...

What the papers say- 13th and 14th February 2010

Homeowners were urged to take action in this weekend’s financial press following several changes in interest rates over recent weeks. The Telegraph pointed out that after 11 months of keeping Standard Variable Rates low, many lenders are under pressure, and warned anyone currently on a low SVR to prepare for a possible rate rise in the near future. The Independent on Sunday suggested that rising property valuations and an increase in lender compe...

Virgin buys platform for launch

Richard Branson’s Virgin Money is set to enter the banking world and purchase Church House Trust for £12.3 million. Virgin, who were rumoured to be in the hunt for Northern Rock, plan to invest a further £37 million in the Somerset based bank and will offer banking, saving and mortgage products.Virgin Money’s Chief Executive Jayne Anne Gadhia, said they aim to provide a different type of banking experience and “make everyone better off by offerin...

Housing market continues steady recovery

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) reported that loans for house purchase reached 55,000 in October, the highest level since December 2007, and a near 100% rise from the trough of January 2009.They also released some interesting figures on the popularity of fixed rates. From a high of 80% of new loans in July, fixed rates were only chosen by 66% of new borrowers in October, a number which I suspect has fallen further since. Tracker deals seem ...

What the papers say- 3rd and 4th October 2009

The Financial Times and Sunday Telegraph both reported this week on the jump in interest rates and monthly payments faced by borrowers coming to the end of 0% tracker rates taken out two years ago. More than 100,000 homeowners face a potential payment shock, but experts advised that not all schemes will automatically revert to a lender’s Standard Variable Rate, as many deals offer a lifetime tracker rate once the incentive period ends. For those ...

Sale and rent back schemes to have tighter regulation.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has announced new sale and rent back measures to reinforce their interim regulations launched on 1st July. The measures, designed to protect consumers in this previously unregulated market come into effect next June. The proposals include banning cold calling, and introducing a cooling-off period to give consumers more time to make decisions. Firms will no longer be allowed to drop promotional leaflets thro...

What the papers say- 26th – 27th September 2009

Alternative methods of purchasing a property were the order of the day this weekend, with The Guardian reporting on the return of the 100% mortgage, albeit in the form of a shared ownership scheme. The Mansfield Building Society has teamed up with the South Yorkshire Housing Association to offer the product, allowing buyers to purchase 60% of a property without a deposit, whilst paying rent on the remaining 40%. The Independent looked at lenders ...

Last Call for Stamp Duty Holiday

Now that we’re well into September, the end of the stamp duty holiday looms ever closer and those thinking of buying will need to reach a decision of whether to ‘use it or lose it’. The waiver of stamp duty for house purchases up to £175,000 comes to a close at the end of the year and will only apply to purchases that complete before the deadline. Potentially worth as much as £1750 it could be valuable help for first time buyers already facing th...

Market View

The latest press release from the Council of Mortgage Lenders tells us that the mortgage market is stabilising but is not yet normal. No Nobel Prize for that gem you might think, but there were some interesting facts further into the release. The number of mortgages taken out for both house purchase and remortgaging increased in June, and while the total of purchase mortgages for the quarter was up on the previous three months (showing continued...

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