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Mortgage Affordability hits 2021 high in September

The average maximum loan size available is up by nearly 10% compared to the start of the year in September – representing a 2021 high, according to the latest analysis from Mortgage Broker Tools (MBT).

Analysis of real cases processed through the MBT research platform found that the maximum loan size available to an average customer was £254,821 in September, compared to £234,224 in January.

This increase was primarily driven by improved options for first-time buyers with the maximum loan size available such a buyer standing at £276,060 in September, up from £230,555 in January.

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Tanya Toumadj (pictured), CEO at Mortgage Broker Tools, said: “It’s a very competitive lender landscape at the moment and that means more options for borrowers. Cutting rates is one way for lenders to get an edge, but it’s not the only way and we’ve seen improved choice at higher LTVs and lenders making changes to their affordability calculators to become more competitive.

“At Mortgage Broker Tools, we’ve also seen the introduction of new ways for first-time buyers to enhance their affordability options, with results that show the benefits of combining an equity loan with a first charge mortgage, and this has certainly helped to boost the average loan size available to this group of customers.

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“The latest MBT Affordability Index shows that even though the maximum loan size available is at its highest point this year, a quarter of cases are still deemed to be unaffordable by lenders, so it’s really important that brokers carry out thorough research amongst as many providers as possible.

“Our residential panel, for example, features 44 lenders, which is nearly a third more than its nearest competitor. This difference in panel size makes a tangible difference to how much a client is able to borrow – in fact, we have calculated that by researching the additional lenders we offer, an average client would be able to borrow an extra £38,000. And this could be the difference in helping a client to achieve their objectives or letting them down.”

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Mortgage repayments reach record £38bn in H1 2021

Mortgage repayments increased by 20% in H1 2021, to reach a record £38bn, according to the Equity Release Council’s (ERC) Autumn 2021 Market Report.

This is the equivalent of £200m a day, or £3,500 for every mortgaged household.

The ERC said the trend has been fuelled by regular repayments and overpayments reaching record heights, new borrowing ahead of the stamp duty deadline and fewer mortgage payment holidays.

The report found that the nation is now carrying over £1.5tn of mortgage debt for the first time on record, but factors including house price rises mean that for every £1 of mortgage debt, there is more than £3 of equity in homes.

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The value of UK housing stock rose from £5.67tn to £6.42tn over the past year, with private property wealth reaching a new high of £4.87tn.

Strong performance in the housing market saw UK private property wealth increase from £4.21tn at the end of H1 2020 to £4.87tn at the end of H1 2021.

Households repaid more than £19bn of mortgage capital during both Q1 and Q2 2021, having never repaid more than £18bn in any previous quarter.

Rising property prices mean more than three quarters of the value of the average home has been tied up in equity rather than debt, leaving £201,642 of property wealth for an owner to draw on.

Across the first half of 2021, 35,860 new and returning customers were served, unlocking £2.3bn of property wealth.

Customer numbers steadily rose in H1 2021, with June seeing the most new plans agreed (3,348).

New customer levels remained broadly consistent with those seen in H2 2020, dipping slightly from 21,917 to 21,596 new plans taken out, but higher than this time last year when the first lockdown slowed activity (18,420).

Lifetime mortgage product options doubled in the past two years.

The total number of equity release products available increased to a record high of 668 in July 2021, from 448 six months earlier.

More than two-thirds (68%) of products allow customers to make voluntary capital repayments with no early repayment charge (ERC), while 89% of products offer fixed ERCs.

The average equity release rate rose to 4.26%, but there are still more options available today with rates of 4% or lower than a year ago.

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The average age of new customers remained stable in H1 2021 at 70 years old for drawdown and 68.4 for lump sum.

And the average house price of new customers continues to rise to record levels for both drawdown (£419,166) and lump sum (£406,139) plans.

This came as UK property prices have increased over the last year to reach an average of £265,668.

David Burrowes, chairman of the ERC, said: “UK households are converting unprecedented amounts of mortgage borrowing into property wealth as we look to move on from the worst of the pandemic.

“Combined with property price rises fuelled by the stamp duty holiday, homeowners have record equity to potentially draw upon in later life.

“The transformation of later life mortgages in recent years has given people more opportunities to access their biggest source of wealth.

“We are seeing mindsets change to the point that tapping into property wealth is now a common consideration to meet various retirement needs, from topping up pension income to providing a ‘living inheritance’ via gifting to younger generations.

“The modern equity release market has shown resilience in the face of uncertainty to climb back towards pre-pandemic levels.

“The disruption of the last 18 months has not slowed the pace of innovation in lifetime lending, and it is important the market continues to evolve to address the financial challenges people will face in the post-pandemic world.”

Stuart Wilson, corporate marketing director of more2life, added: “Following the end of the stamp duty holiday and the severe disruption to markets and personal finances over the past 18 months, the news today that mortgage repayments have risen by 20% to record highs is a testament to the strength of the UK housing market and the savvy savings behaviour of UK consumers.

“Though the report does mention some grey clouds around the UK’s record level of mortgage debt, there is a significant silver lining in that rising house prices have led to the amount of equity in our homes being three times the level of debt owed.

“With a record high of £4.87trn of private property wealth in the UK, there is a fertile landscape for consumers looking to unlock the wealth tied up in their homes and afford the retirement lifestyle they deserve in their autumn years.

“The hard work of the equity release market to innovate and create better outcomes for borrowers is evident in the doubling of product options in the last two years, allowing consumers greater opportunity to find the right equity release product for them.

“Accessing property wealth remains one of the best ways for over-55s to achieve their forever homes, move closer to family or afford renovations to make life more comfortable, and today’s report shows that the market is working hard to live up to its potential and support later life borrowers in retirement.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Mortgage arrears remain low as payment holidays come to an end

Mortgage arrears remain close to historically low levels due to the mitigating effects of payment deferrals and other tailored forbearance, according to the latest figures from UK Finance.

Q2 saw 26,560 homeowner mortgages in early arrears (those between 2.5% and 5% of balance in arrears), down 5% on Q1.

Some 27,910 homeowner mortgages had more significant arrears (10% or more of the outstanding balance), an increase of 630 on the previous quarter.

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210 homeowner mortgaged properties and 230 buy-to-let mortgaged properties were taken into possession in the second quarter of 2021.

Steve Seal said: “While it’s encouraging to see mortgage arrears remain close to historic lows, the picture could look very different in the coming months. Mortgage payment holidays have now come to an end, and with furlough and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme set to end in September, there’s likely to be more homeowners who will struggle to keep up with mortgage repayments.

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“This may only be short-term for some borrowers, however it is something that could impact their credit profile in the long-run. As a result, many of these customers risk being turned away from highstreet lenders and may not know where else to turn. This is where the specialist lending market has an increasingly important role to play.

“As an industry, it is our responsibility to support this cohort of customers which is only set to grow post-pandemic, signposting them to the options available and highlighting how the specialist market can cater to their unique needs.”

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Remortgage completions fall 5% while instructions rise

The volume of remortgage completions fell by 5% in June, according to the LMS Monthly Remortgage Snapshot.

However, while remortgage completions slowed, instruction volumes increased by 16.% over the same timeframe.

The overall cancellation rate decreased by 0.45% to 6.01%, while pipeline cases rose by 11% in June.

The average monthly payment decrease for those who remortgaged was £200, and the average monthly mortgage increase was £261.

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A total of 42% of borrowers increased their loan size and 49% of those who remortgaged took out a 5-year fixed rate product, which was the most popular product length.

More than a third (36%) of remortgagers said their primary aim was to release equity from their property.

The average loan increase post-remortgage was £21,586, whilst the average loan decrease was £12,217.

The average remortgage loan amount in London and the South East was £283,685, while the average for the rest of the UK stood at £143,220; this puts remortgage loan amounts 98% higher in London and the South East than the rest of England and Wales.

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The longest previous mortgage length was found in the North East at 84.36 months (7.03 years) and the shortest was in the West Midlands at 62.59 months (5.2 years), meaning that the longest was 35% longer than the shortest.

Nick Chadbourne said: “Steady activity and easing restrictions continued to improve lender confidence in June which gave borrowers greater product choice and better deals.

“However, instructions were still not as high as we would expect in the lead up to the large number of [early repayment charge (ERC)] expiries in July.

“This means that many borrowers who are remortgaging are opting for a product transfer.

“As low interest rates are still in place across the board, staying with the same lender may give borrowers a cheaper rate than switching, but it is still important that borrowers shop around to ensure they are getting the best deal possible.

“As the purchase market continues to boom, supply is the only factor which might slow it down.

“The end of the stamp duty holiday will have had some impact, but the key drivers to move out of cities, find green space and upsize are all still there to drive demand.

“Until supply is properly addressed, inflated house prices and competitive mortgage rates are expected to stay.

“We expect to see more borrowers opting to stay put in this environment, boosting remortgage activity and contributing to a healthy pipeline in the coming months.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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UK mortgage borrowing hits a record in June

UK mortgage borrowing hit a record £17.9bn in June as homebuyers raced to complete purchases before the stamp duty holiday started to taper off, Bank of England figures showed.

The net figure was well ahead of the previous record of £11.5bn set in March. There was no large increase in the number of mortgage approvals in recent months, suggesting a shorter time between a lender approving a mortgage and completion.

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Approvals for house purchases fell in June to 81,300 from 86,900 a month earlier. June’s figure was the lowest since July 2020 when the housing market reopened and Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a sharp, temporary cut in stamp duty for house purchases in England.

Sunak’s cut, which finishes completely at the end of September, helped fuel a frenzy in the housing market as buyers scrambled to capitalise on the reduction. However, the resulting increase in property prices meant most of the gain went to sellers. Households have also been moving house after rethinking their needs with working from home becoming the norm for many.

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The interest rate paid on newly drawn mortgages rose to 1.95% from 1.9% a month earlier and 1.72% in August 2020.

Consumer borrowing remained low as individuals took on £0.3bn of debt in June. Households repaid an average of £1.9bn a month from March 2020 to February 2021. Households deposited an extra £9.8bn with banks and building societies in June, down from an average of £14.7bn in the six months to May and a peak of £27.4bn that month.

By Sean Farrell

Source: ShareCast

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IMLA: “Housing and Mortgage Recovery Will Remain Robust.”

The Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) has today published its report on the impact of Covid on the UK housing and mortgage market – one year on. This latest report notes the continued strength of the housing market, despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, and predicts that gross mortgage lending will reach £285 billion this year.

In January, IMLA’s New Normal report predicted a rise in gross mortgage lending to £283 billion in 2021, with a swift return to household spending as Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were eased. However, IMLA’s latest report has revised this figure, increasing it to £285 billion – the highest level of mortgage lending since 2007.

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The predictions follow data which show a surge in mortgage lending, stimulated by the strength of the housing market. During the first five months of 2021, lending for house purchase was not only 87 per cent above the same period the previous year, but 51 per cent above the same period in 2019. And while remortgage activity has been weaker, the number of product transfers has risen to record levels.

In light of the high levels of market activity brought forward by the Stamp Duty holiday, however, IMLA has also revised its forecast for gross lending in 2022, reducing it slightly from £286 billion to £280 billion.

The report, which makes a series of predictions about the market over the coming year, forecasts that house prices will be broadly flat in the second half of 2021 but will rise 1.6 per cent in 2022. House prices have risen as a result of the Stamp Duty holiday, but the report predicts that a more subdued picture can be expected after the holiday fully ends in September.

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Kate Davies, executive director of IMLA, said: “Following a difficult period in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, it is very encouraging to see yet another positive prediction for the remainder of 2021. Our findings forecast that 2021 will see the highest level of mortgage lending since 2007 and, with a combination of Government support helping to underpin new purchases and a bumper year for product maturities, we expect this high demand to continue. However, with the Stamp Duty holiday soon coming to an end, and the Help to Buy scheme due to conclude in 2023, there is still a need for a coherent, long-term housing strategy from the Government that embraces the public as well as the private sectors – and delivers a market that meets Britain’s housing needs for the decades to come.”

BY PETE CARVILL

Source: Property Wire

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Mortgage rates fall as choice rises, according to the latest Moneyfacts report

Continued growth in product choice for borrowers, in addition to rate competition, has led to reductions in overall average fixed rates month-on-month, according to the latest Moneyfacts UK Mortgage Trends Treasury Report data.

Nine months of consecutive increases in mortgage availability has seen total product choice reach its highest level in 16 months, with 4,512 deals on offer.

This is an increase of 269 in the last month alone, and the highest this has been since March 2020, when the figure was 5,222.

This is the first time since June of 2018 that Moneyfacts has recorded availability increasing across all the individual loan-to-value (LTV) tiers.

Borrowers seeking higher LTV products have seen the largest improvements in choice, particularly at 95%, where the research recorded a jump of 61 products compared to June 2021, while the current total of 253 available deals offers 239 products more than there were this time last year.

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For only the second time in the past 12 months, both the average overall 2-year and 5-year fixed rates fell over the course of the month, to 2.55% and 2.78% respectively.

Reducing by 0.04% in both cases, these are the largest monthly reductions recorded for either rate since June 2020.

July 2020 logged record lows of 1.99% and 2.25% for these rates, due to the dearth of available deals fuelling these averages, particularly at the higher-rated, higher-risk top LTV brackets.

Eleanor Williams, finance expert at Moneyfacts, said: “The level of choice available to those looking for a residential mortgage has risen substantially again between June and July, as volumes rose by 269 new products bringing the total available to over 4,500.

“Over the past six months alone availability has recovered by 1,619 – or 56% – and for the first time in over three years, we tracked improvements in choice across all the LTV brackets this month, great news for borrowers with all levels of equity or deposit.

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“Our data shows there is further cause for positivity as both the overall average 2 and 5-year fixed rates have fallen.

“At 2.55% the average 2-year fixed rate is at its lowest since February (2.53%), while the average 5-year rate at 2.78% is the lowest since April (2.77%).

“Although the 2-year overall rate is 0.06% above its equivalent rate from a pre-pandemic July 2019, the 5-year overall average rate is 0.07% below its equivalent two years on (2.85%) and could indicate lenders are moving to price longer-term fixed rates more competitively, perhaps reflecting a shift in borrower focus to locking in for stability in these uncertain times.

“First-time buyers and those considering a mortgage at higher LTVs are amongst those to benefit the most from rate cuts, with the average 2 and 5-year fixed rates at 90% LTV falling by 0.15% and 0.08% respectively, while at 95% LTV reducing by 0.09% and 0.06%, respectively, but equally it is impossible to ignore the growing ranks of providers offering sub-1% deals to tempt borrowers with larger levels of equity or deposit as well.

“According to the latest Halifax House Price Index, there was a 0.5% drop in property prices, likely linked to the stamp duty holiday tapering off, but this in no way detracts from the fact that overall prices are up approximately 8.8% on a yearly basis.

“Demand for the very limited supply of property could remain high, as the appetite to either get onto the property ladder or for larger properties with home offices and outdoor space continues, and these borrowers could be enticed by the possible savings lower mortgage rates may bring them.

“Competition is evident across the residential mortgage sector, but there is no guarantee that rates will continue to fall, or for how long these record-low deals may be available for, therefore seeking advice to assess the best true cost deal for their own circumstances would be a wise move by any prospective borrower.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Value of UK Mortgages Climbs 3.6% Between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021

The outstanding value of all residential mortgage loans in the UK stood 3.6 per cent higher at the end of Q1 2021 than at the same point the year before, according to new Bank of England figures.

The figures, released yesterday, also showed that the value of new mortgage commitments was 15 per cent higher than in the same quarter the year before.

However, the value of outstanding balances with some arrears increased by 5.1 per cent over the quarter to £15 billion, and now accounts for 0.96 per cent of outstanding mortgage balances.

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Commenting on the figures, Paul Stockwell, chief commercial offer at Gatehouse Bank, said: “Buyers’ insatiable appetite to move home has meant the value of new mortgages started the year at highs not seen since before the 2008/09 financial crash. There has been frenzied activity in the market with movers searching for larger homes and more outdoor space, while the extension of the stamp duty discount to the end of June added more fuel to the fire in the first quarter of this year.”

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He added: “The biggest stamp duty savings run out in just a few weeks’ time, yet measures from other housing indices suggest the frantic competition for property continues unabated. While lending may fall from these current highs, we still expect it to be an incredibly busy summer for the housing market.”

BY PETE CARVILL

Source: Property Wire

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How will the housing market fare after the stamp duty holiday?

The housing market has come a long way since the country entered its first lockdown more than a year ago.

In mid-May last year the housing secretary lifted the freeze on home moves in England – which for seven weeks had been prohibited unless “reasonably necessary” – with Scotland and Wales following a month later.

After the chancellor announced a stamp duty cut in July to “catalyse the housing market and boost confidence”, the market has seen average house prices and mortgage borrowing hit record highs.

But how will the market fare when the current stamp duty holiday ends on June 30?

April slowdown

Statistics show a fall in mortgage borrowing and transactions in the month after the stamp duty holiday was originally due to end.

The latest figures from the Bank of England show mortgage borrowing fell in April, with net borrowing at £3.3bn – down from the record of £11.5bn in the previous month, and lower than the monthly average of £5.7bn borrowed in the six months to February.

And provisional figures from HM Revenue & Customs show residential property transactions dropped to an estimated 111,260 in April, down by more than a third from 173,410 in March (non-seasonally adjusted).

House prices, meanwhile, rose in April, with Nationwide’s index showing prices were up by 2.1 per cent month-on-month, to reach an average of £238,831.

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The building society’s chief economist, Robert Gardner, says the extended tax relief prompted a “re-acceleration” in April, after the previous month saw a slowdown in house price growth in view of the original stamp duty holiday deadline.

However, Tim Bannister, property expert at Rightmove, expects market activity to remain strong for at least the rest of the year, despite the tapering and end of the stamp duty holiday in June and September.

Bannister says: “Right now many of the homes in the huge pipeline going through will not be expecting to make the June stamp duty deadline.”

Homebuyers who miss the June deadline for the stamp duty holiday will see the tax kick in above £250,000 of the property price until the end of September, in place of the current nil rate band of £500,000.

However, last month, a survey of more than 1,000 homebuyers by estate agent Barrows and Forrester revealed four in five (81 per cent) said they expected to miss the September deadline for the £250,000 threshold.

Coming out of lockdown

John Phillips, national operations director at estate agency group Spicerhaart, says the reopening of the hospitality and travel industries will have a greater impact on the market than the end of the stamp duty holiday.

Phillips says: “Buying a house will still be a priority for many, but there will be lots of people booking holidays after a year stuck in the UK and savings may be spent on a few weeks in the sun. This may result in a few people deciding to put a purchase on hold as the UK reopens fully.

“The slight dip in buyers will reduce the rate that house prices are increasing. However, this is a positive for the market, as the record increases were unsustainable long-term.”

Nationwide’s latest index shows annual house price growth reached a double figure of 10.9 per cent in May, the highest level recorded since August 2014.

Right now many of the homes in the huge pipeline going through will not be expecting to make the June stamp duty deadline.

Tim Bannister

Buying agent Henry Pryor also says a predicted increase in supply will help to moderate prices.

A record one in three properties (32 per cent) sold for more than the original asking price in April, according to NAEA Propertymark, compared to the previous record of 19 per cent in May 2014.

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Pryor says: “I expect supply to pick up as people start to be more confident about having strangers around their home. This will provide more choice for those wanting to buy and act as a slight dampener on prices.”

Although the housing market has remained open throughout subsequent lockdowns, government advice on moving home in England, for example, recommends homeowners vacate their property during viewings to minimise unnecessary contact.

Meanwhile, government figures show three-quarters of the adult population have had their first Covid-19 vaccine as of June 1.

Beth Rudolf, director of delivery at the Conveyancing Association, also says prices may experience a short-term “blip”, as more properties come onto the market when Covid restrictions are fully lifted and demand drops with the tapering of the stamp duty holiday.

Rudolf added: “As people decide to move to suit their new working arrangements, we might also expect more supply.”

Demand for space to continue

A survey of employers from professional body CIPD found two-thirds (63 per cent) planned to introduce or expand the use of hybrid working, as working from home became more commonplace last year.

Phillips says: “The shift to homeworking has increased the need for an extra bedroom to use as a study, or a garden to build an office in.

“There’s also been a trend away from city centres. Without the need to live in commutable distance from the office, people are moving to larger properties away from the often more expensive cities.”

Indeed, research from Nationwide in April found seven in 10 homeowners (68 per cent) would still be moving, or considering a move, if the stamp duty holiday had not been extended.

Buying a house will still be a priority for many, but there will be lots of people booking holidays after a year stuck in the UK and savings may be spent on a few weeks in the sun.

John Phillips

Nationwide’s Gardner added that shifting housing preferences after Covid was continuing to drive activity. Three in 10 actual and potential homemovers (28 per cent) cited a desire to access garden or outdoor space more easily, and one in five (22 per cent) to escape from a busy urban environment.

Although the country awaits the fourth and final step out of lockdown, buying agent Pryor does not think the demand for more space instigated by the lockdowns will change in the short-term.

Pryor says: “People who can move are looking for more flexible space; room to entertain, to homeschool, to work from home and if we aren’t able to go abroad, to spend the holidays in.

“This is a trend that I expect will continue for the next few years as we start to appreciate the changes brought by the pandemic.”

Kate Davies, executive director at the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association, says that while demand may soften following the stamp duty holiday, they do not anticipate a “cliff edge drop” in interest.

Davies says: “Many people are still keen to move irrespective of the holiday, with the Covid crisis having led people across the UK to reconsider their living arrangements.

“It does not seem logical that this trend will suddenly disappear, given the signs that there is still considerable demand in the pipeline, especially among those waiting for price growth to slow, but also from people who have chosen to wait for lockdown restrictions to ease before pressing ahead with a move.”

By Chloe Cheung

Source: FT Adviser

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Lenders hand out most mortgages to first-time buyers in nearly 20 years

Banks and building societies handed out more mortgages to first-time buyers in March than any time since 2002.

Across the UK, 42,330 mortgages were issued to first-time buyers in March, marking the highest monthly total since December 2002 when 44,000 were advanced, according to trade association UK Finance.

Many people who would have taken their first step on the property ladder last year may have put their plans on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the market having been effectively shut for part of 2020.

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Last peak was in July 2002

A total of 58,810 mortgages were advanced in March to home movers, the highest figure since August 2007. The peak month for home mover activity was July 2004 when 93,500 mortgages were advanced.

The peak month for lending to first-time buyers on UK Finance’s records was July 2002, with 54,100 loans.

March 2021 was the original deadline for a stamp duty holiday in England and Northern Ireland, but the period has been extended.

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“Since the housing market emerged from its shutdown last spring, we have seen a remarkable recovery in demand, which continued through quarter one 2021,” said Eric Leenders, managing director of personal finance at UK Finance.

“Existing home owners have taken advantage of the stamp duty concessions, with changing working and living patterns encouraging more to use their existing equity, either to move further afield or to fund further housing purchases for themselves or family,” Leenders added.

By Michiel Willems

Source: City AM

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