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Majority of Property Transactions Since May 2020 Backed by Mortgages

Mortgages have fuelled 70% of property transactions across Great Britain since the market reopened back in May of last year, after initial lockdown restrictions were imposed, according to a research.

Enness analysed market data on mortgage-financed sales as a percentage of all sales in each area of Britain between May 2020 and November 2020.

While 270,785 of the 387,667 homes sold across Britain (70%) have seen the buyer backed by a mortgage, there is some regional difference. In London, 80% of all sales have come through homebuyers with a mortgage, with the East of England, West Midlands (72%), the South East and East Midlands (71%) also coming in higher than the national benchmark.

In contrast, the South West is home to the most cash homebuyers with just 64% of homebuyers purchasing via a mortgage.

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With the capital home to the largest regional percentage of mortgage-backed purchases, London also accounts for the top three highest at local authority level. Lewisham is the mortgage hotspot of Britain for homebuyers with 88% of all transactions financed via the sector, followed by Barking and Dagenham and Waltham Forest (87%).

Slough and Crawley are home to the highest percentage of mortgage-based purchases outside of London along with Hillingdon (86%).

At the other end of the spectrum, just 40% of property transactions in East Lindsey have been financed by a mortgage since the market reopened in May of last year. North Norfolk (43%), Argyll and Bute (44%), Torridge, Ceredigion (45%), Scarborough (48%), Rother, South Hams and Pembrokeshire also rank with some of the lowest levels of mortgage-financed transactions.

Read about the UK Housing Market via our Specialist Residential & Buy to Let Division

“A lot has been made about the boost in buyer demand due to the stamp duty holiday, but it’s the continued low rates of borrowing that have really been the foundation of this heightened market activity.

While a stamp duty saving is nice, the ability to secure finance at a much lower rate of interest than historically possible has brought about a major boost to market sentiment in recent years and the impact is clear, with 70% of all transactions financed as such.

Some lenders have begun to tighten their lending criteria and this could make it harder for those with a less stable financial background to obtain a mortgage. However, it’s unlikely to impact the actual ratio of mortgage-financed buyers in relation to those purchasing with cash, particularly while the Bank of England keeps rates at sub-one per cent.”

BY PETE CARVILL

Source: Property Wire

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Details of new 5% deposit mortgage scheme to be outlined in Budget


Ultra-low deposit mortgages are set to make a comeback with a new 5% deposit home loan guarantee scheme.

Details about the new scheme are expected to be set out in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget on Wednesday.

The scheme will be available to current homeowners as well as first-time buyers looking to buy a house for up to £600,000.

The initiative will be available to lenders from April and is designed to increase the appetite of mortgage lenders to offer high loan-to-value lending to creditworthy customers across the UK.

Under the scheme the Government will offer to take on some of the risk of low deposit loans, meaning lenders would have some protection from potential losses.

Low deposit loans are often seen as more of a risk because borrowers could end up in negative equity if house prices fall – meaning they owe more than their property is worth.

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Lenders will be able to purchase a Government guarantee that compensates them for a portion of their losses in the event of foreclosure.

All lenders under the scheme will offer mortgages fixed for at least five years as part of their range of products, providing options for consumers with smaller deposits who want the security and predictability of a mortgage with a fixed rate over a longer term.

The new initiative follows in the footsteps of the UK-wide Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme, which was launched in 2013 and helped to reinvigorate the market after the 2008 financial crisis.

That scheme, which also offered 5% deposit mortgages, is no longer running.

It helped more than 100,000 households across the UK to buy a home, but it also drew accusations of pumping up property prices.

Many low deposit mortgages vanished from the market last year amid concerns about the wider economy.

However, more recently, lenders have been bringing back low deposit deals, clustered around the 10% deposit level.

For example, Yorkshire Building Society launched two new 10% mortgages on Wednesday exclusively for first-time buyers.

In recent months, house prices have jumped to record highs, fuelled by buyers wanting to move to make lifestyle changes, as well as a temporary stamp duty holiday.

The stamp duty holiday is due to end on March 31, but it could be extended by another three months in the Budget, according to recent reports.

Rightmove estimates that 100,000 buyers who agreed a purchase last year are set to lose out if the deadline remains at March 31.

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In total, it estimates an additional 300,000 property transactions in England could get through if the deadline is extended to June, saving buyers £1.75 billion in total.

Rightmove’s property expert Tim Bannister said: “We estimate that around 100,000 sales will miss the current March deadline, and so if the holiday is extended to the end of June it would give these the chance to complete in time, plus a number of other sales could now make it through that were only agreed at the start of this year.”

Kate Eales, head of regional residential agency at Strutt & Parker, said a possible extension “is likely to motivate potential buyers who thought about entering the market but might have been put off by lockdown restrictions and felt they had already missed the boat with this holiday altogether”.

She added: “An extension, combined with the recent Government road map to normality, is likely to work together to encourage more to come to the market and take advantage of the holiday.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said previously: “I want generation rent to become generation buy and these 95% mortgage guarantees help to deliver this promise.

“Young people shouldn’t feel excluded from the chance of owning their own home and now it will be easier than ever to get on to the property ladder.”

Mr Sunak said previously: “By giving lenders the option of a Government guarantee on 95% mortgages, many more products will become available, helping people to achieve their dream and get on the housing ladder.”

Source: Express and Star

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Mortgage options hit highest level since first national lockdown

With lenders continuing to gain confidence, homebuyers and investors seeking mortgages now have the highest level of mortgage options available since March 2020.

Lenders recently launched a range of new mortgage options for property buyers. Currently, there are 3,215 mortgage deals available, according to Moneyfacts. This is the highest number in 11 months, when there was 5,222 deals available on the market.

In the first half of 2020, mortgage options fell sharply. Many lenders withdrew mortgages while they reassessed the level of risk they could take in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, borrowers with smaller deposits had few mortgage deals available.

During the second half of 2020, the mortgage market started recovering. Since October, the number of mortgage options has grown by 42%. This is the biggest four-monthly increase since 2007 .

Additionally, at the end of 2020, mortgage approvals were at the highest level since 2007. The housing market remained busy as homebuyers and property investors have been rushing to beat the stamp duty holiday deadline.

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Mortgages with smaller deposits available

Choice in mortgages is particularly increasing for borrowers with smaller deposits. In the past few months, the most significant rise was for 90% loan-to-value (LTV) mortgages. This LTV mortgage where borrowers only need to put down a 10% deposit is typically used by more first-time buyers.

Eleanor Williams from Moneyfacts says: “Those with 10% deposit or equity might be especially pleased to note that this tier has, for a second month, seen the largest uplift in availability.

“With products at this level often favoured by first-time buyers and traditionally being seen as higher risk for providers, willingness to extend lending in this risk bracket could be an indication that lenders have confidence in the sector, despite ongoing, wider economic uncertainty. This is echoed by the average two and five year fixed rates at 90% LTV seeing the largest fall of all the lending tiers, reducing by 0.09% and 0.07%.”

Mortgage interest rates stabilising

Average interest rates have increased across all LTVs. However, the average rate has increased only fractionally, which shows rates are stabilising. This is likely due to increased competition in the mortgage market. It also shows lenders are gaining more confidence and less risk averse than before.

Eleanor Williams comments: “At 2.53%, the two year fixed overall average rate is now 0.11% higher year-on-year, while the five-year equivalent at 2.73% is equal to where it sat in February 2020.

“Therefore, while these rates have risen again, the increases are of just 0.01% and 0.02% this month, which may be a sign of the start of some stability in the market, especially when compared to the drastic monthly increases witnessed over the course of last year.”

Read about the UK Housing Market via our Specialist Residential & Buy to Let Division

Choosing the best deals

Moneyfacts advises borrowers to take into account a number of factors when choosing a mortgage deal. Don’t look at just the interest rate. It’s important to also take product fees and incentives into consideration.

Recently, two-year fixed products have been particularly popular. Two-year fixed deals typically have lower interest rates than five-year fixed deals. However, for some, the five-year option could be a better choice in the long run. And the interest rate gap between two and five-year fixed rates mortgages has dropped to its lowest level since 2013, according to Moneyfacts.

As the economy and mortgage market remains uncertain, five-year fixed deals could provide longer-term stability. However, this depends on the borrower’s needs. Seek independent financial guidance to find the best mortgage deal for your circumstances.

By Kaylene Isherwood

Source: Buy Association

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Low deposit mortgage deals at six-month high

The mortgage market has shown signs of recovery as the number of 90% loan to value (LTV) products reached a six-month high while overall choice has improved.

The number of low deposit mortgages almost doubled from 72 to 160, according to a Moneyfacts report.

However, those who require a 90% LTV mortgage still have fewer options than those with more money to put down. Borrowers who qualify for an 85% LTV mortgage have 439 products to choose from and 75% LTV borrowers have 629.

In total, there are currently 2,893 residential mortgages on the market, the most recorded since April 2020 when there were 3,192 mortgages available. This is up slightly from the 2,782 on the market last month.

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Rates on the up

The average rate for a two-year fixed mortgage across all LTVs rose for the sixth month in a row by 0.03% to 2.52%, the highest average rate since January 2019.

The average two-year fixed rate is also 0.08% higher year-on-year and a 0.53% rise on the record low seen in July. The record low rate coincided with a period when there were just 70 high LTV products on the market, where higher rates are typically seen.

The average rate for a five-year fixed deal across all tiers also increased in January from 2.69% to 2.71%. However, this was lower than the average rate of 2.74% during the same month last year.

As well as returning to the market to serve borrowers with a smaller deposit, lenders also appear to be treating those in need of a 90% LTV more favourably by reducing borrowing costs.

Read about the UK Housing Market via our Specialist Residential & Buy to Let Division

The average rate for a two-year fixed mortgage at this tier dropped from 3.79% to 3.65% over the month while a five-year fix fell from 3.92% to 3.79%.

Eleanor Williams, spokesperson at Moneyfacts, said: “Following the sharp drop off in availability in 2020, it is positive to see we are beginning 2021 with the total number of mortgage deals rising for the third consecutive month.

“Not only is the increase in product choice a positive for borrowers, but it seems that a measure of competition may have started to return to some sectors as well.”

She added: “This improvement in options for mortgage borrowers has occurred at a time when high levels of borrower demand have been fuelled by those hoping to benefit from the stamp duty holiday and by those who re-evaluated what they want from a home and were part of the unleashed demand that arose after the first lockdown in 2020.”

Written by: Shekina Tuahene

Source: Your Money

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Mortgage approvals at 13-year high

UK lenders approved 97,532 mortgages in October, the most since September 2007, the Bank of England’s Money and Credit data shows.

The housing market has gotten busier, as there were 92,091 given the green light in September, compared to 85,704 in August.

Before the pandemic the were 73,384 mortgages approved in February, before the amount fell as low at 9,335 in May.

Nitesh Patel, strategic economist for Yorkshire Building Society, said: “The housing market continues to defy economic logic, despite challenging economic conditions caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic and uncertainty over the UK’s trading deal with the EU.

“Pent-up demand from the lockdown has been driven by buyers looking for bigger homes that accommodate home working and more garden space, as well as the Stamp Duty cut may have drawn in opportunistic buyers who were previously discouraged by high transaction costs.

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“There is good reason to believe that homeowners with large amounts of equity in their homes are the most active, with first-time buyers making up a smaller proportion of approvals.

“These are temporary factors, particularly the Stamp Duty cut which, as it currently stands, ends on 31 March next year. With the economy set to remain weak and unemployment likely to rise when the job support scheme comes to an end, we should see housing activity start to decline in the second quarter of 2021.”

But Richard Pike, sales and marketing director at Phoebus Software, said: “It is not only the stamp duty saving that is driving the market, there is also the number of people looking to escape city life since the lockdown. And, as the ‘working from home’ culture continues this is likely to endure past the limitations imposed by Covid-19.

Read about the UK Housing Market via our Specialist Residential & Buy to Let Division

“The problem then will be the age-old one of supply and demand. Despite the government’s promises, we are, according to the ONS last week, way behind our target for new housebuilding in the last year. With the knock-on effect of the pandemic, this is something that isn’t going to be fixed quickly. So, the mass exodus from our cities that has been predicted, could turn into a trickle come the spring.”

Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, said: “This is an opportunity for many would-be buyers who in the past couldn’t afford or preferred not to buy, to go and purchase, locking themselves into a longer-term mortgage rate at an affordable level, and with a low enough deposit so that it doesn’t impact their savings too much. This, coupled with the stamp duty break, has fuelled the market and helped push up property prices.

“Unlike 2007, we should be confident in the banking sector, which is highly liquid, as well as confident in the market. We may be living with a pandemic but hopefully this will be under control before long, allowing us to carry on with our lives before too much damage is done to the economy.”

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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Low deposit mortgage deals double as lenders return to market

Mortgage borrowers with a 10% deposit now have almost double the choice of deals compared to September, as lenders have started trickling back into the market, analysis reveals.

There are 80 mortgage products available to borrowers today with a deposit or equity of 10% required, according to Moneyfacts.

At the start of September, there were only 44 deals available on the same basis.

In the past week alone, the number has jumped from 65 to 80, the data revealed.

Atom Bank, TSB and Platform are among the players to have added 90% Loan to Value (LTV) mortgages to the market this week.

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And Nationwide today announced it would expand lending at this level beyond first-time buyers.

The market for high LTV lending (low deposit) collapsed as the pandemic struck earlier this year, leaving many borrowers who could not scrape together bigger deposits with no option but to delay transactions.

In recent months, some lenders returned to 90% LTV lending for short stints of just a couple of days or, in some cases, only hours in an effort to manage volumes.

As more lenders filter back into the space, the pressure appears to be easing.

However, lending at 95% LTV remains very limited with still only eight products currently on the market.

Read about the UK Housing Market via our Specialist Residential & Buy to Let Division

Eleanor Williams, spokesperson at Moneyfacts, said: “It is really encouraging that we are beginning to see more lenders relaunch products in the 90 per cent LTV bracket, especially for those borrowers with lower levels of deposit or equity who may have felt they had little to no options to move forwards with of late.

“We have seen a few lenders put their toe into the water of high LTV lending with short-term, limited edition products which were only on offer for a day or so, therefore seeing further providers enter this arena could be demonstrating that mortgage providers are managing their operational demands and are keen to cater to these borrowers.

“Those who are keen to take advantage of one of these 90 per cent LTV deals could do well to secure the support and guidance of a qualified, independent adviser who will be aware of the most up to date products available and be on hand to help borrowers navigate the mortgage maze.”

Written by: Lana Clements

Source: Your Money

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Boris Johnson plans low deposit mortgage scheme

Prime minister Boris Johnson has vowed to create ‘Generation Buy’ with a low deposit mortgage scheme that he says could be ‘revolutionary’ for young people.

First-time buyers have been finding it particularly hard to buy a property since the pandemic began as lenders have cut maximum loan to values (LTVs), meaning they require a bigger deposit to buy a home.

The stamp duty holiday in England and Northern Ireland was also granted to landlords and second home owners, further squeezing those looking to buy their first home as house prices have been pushed up and demand has increased.

In an interview with the Telegraph before the start of the Conservative Party conference, Johnson said a “huge” number of people were excluded from owning a home and he wanted to solve the problem with a mortgage scheme that permitted deposits as little as 5%.

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Speaking to the newspaper he said: “I think a huge, huge number of people feel totally excluded from capitalism, from the idea of home ownership, which is so vital for our society.

“And we’re going to fix that – Generation Buy is what we’re going for.”

According to the report, Johnson has asked his ministers to work on a scheme to encourage the availability of long-term fixed deals with 5% deposit mortgages.

The government withdrew the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme at the end of 2016 which offered lenders the option to obtain a guarantee on a 95% mortgage.

If the borrower defaulted on the loan, the government would share in some of the losses.

In the two years it was available, the scheme helped to more than double the amount of 95% LTV deals available on the market.

Written by: Samantha Partington

Source: Your Money

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FCA announces extension of mortgage holidays

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed the extension of mortgage holidays for consumers who still face financial difficulties, as well as those whose financial situation may be newly affected by coronavirus after the current FCA mortgage guidance ends.

The FCA has published additional guidance for firms meaning they must offer further short and longer-term support reflecting the circumstances of their customers. This could include extending the repayment term or restructuring of the mortgage.

Where consumers need further short-term support, firms can continue to offer arrangements for no or reduced payments for a specified period to give customers time to get back on track. This additional guidance will come into force on 16 September 2020.

Christopher Woolard, interim chief executive at the FCA, said: “Some consumers will continue to be impacted by coronavirus in the coming months, or be impacted for the first time. Consumers in these situations will benefit from firms providing them with tailored support.

“However, it is very important that consumers who can afford to resume mortgage payments should do so for their own long-term interests and so that help can be targeted at those most in need.”

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Under the guidance published today, firms will prioritise support for borrowers who are at most risk of harm, or who face the greatest financial difficulties.

The new guidance reinforces the need for firms to deliver outcomes that are right for individual borrowers rather than adopting “one size fits all” solutions. The FCA will be monitoring firms to ensure borrowers are treated fairly having regard to their individual circumstances.

The FCA has said that firms will also signpost borrowers to the support they need in managing their finances, including through self-help and money guidance, or refer borrowers to organisations that can provide free debt advice if this meets their needs and circumstances.

Where borrowers have taken, or are taking, payment deferrals under the existing guidance and require further support from lenders these further arrangements can be reflected on credit files in accordance with normal reporting processes. This also applies to borrowers newly affected by coronavirus who receive support from their lender after 31 October.

This will help to ensure that lenders have an accurate picture of consumers’ financial circumstances and reduce the risk of unaffordable lending. Firms are required to be clear about the credit file implications of any forms of support offered to borrowers.

The FCA’s current guidance published in June will continue to provide support for those impacted by coronavirus until 31 October 2020 – with consumers able to take a first or second three-month payment deferral until this date.

The June guidance is due to expire on 31 October and the FCA do not intend to extend this guidance. The guidance published today ensures consumers will still be able to obtain the support they need from their lenders after their payment holiday ends or they are newly affected by coronavirus after 31 October.

However, the watchdog has said it will keep the guidance under review and if circumstances change significantly, consideration will be given to any further measures that may be needed to support consumers during the ongoing pandemic.

Source: Scottish Housing News

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Skipton increases mortgage customer numbers by 9,456 in 2020

Skipton’s half year results show the building society has increased its mortgage customer numbers by 9,456 to 226,947 between 31 December 2019 and 30 June 2020.

The society ensured around 95% of its 88 branches remained open at any one time, albeit under reduced operating hours, during the pandemic.

90% of the society’s 1,500 head office colleagues worked from home, providing a contact centre facility for 50 hours every week.

During this period, Skipton achieved a net customer satisfaction score of 87%, compared to 86% as of 31 December 2019.

Skipton recorded underlying profits before tax of £47.9m, compared to £78.9m in the six months until 30 June 2019.

The society arranged more than 22,000 mortgage payment deferrals, and proactively called customers who had arranged a mortgage payment deferral to check they had all the information and support they needed.

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At its peak, 15% of borrowers had a mortgage payment deferral; as at 30 June 2020, this figure had reduced to 5%.

By 30 June 2020, 67% of the Society’s borrowers who had been granted a mortgage payment deferral had reached the end of their deferral period.

Of these, 13% elected to extend their deferral for up to another three months.

Of the remaining 87% who did not extend their mortgage payment deferral, 98% paid the full monthly amount due on their mortgage in the following month.

Group gross mortgage lending was £2.1bn during the pertiod, compared to £2.5bn during the same period the year before.

Mortgage balances grew by 4.7% since the end of 2019, and savings balances grew by 1.4%.

The society helped 12,376 homeowners to purchase or remortgage their properties during the period, including 2,369 first time buyers and 3,627 buy-to-let borrowers.

David Cutter, group chief executive at Skipton, said: “We went into this pandemic in a strong position with healthy levels of capital and liquidity, however undoubtedly profits are lower in a period where our focus has rightly been on the safety and well-being of our customers and colleagues.

“It is testament to the first-rate efforts of our people – all of whom have been impacted like everybody else across the country in so many different ways – that we have been able to quickly adapt and respond to continue to serve our customers well throughout these unprecedented times.

“Our Skipton Link video appointment service and the Skipton app really came into their own during the first six months of the year.

“Video appointments increased fivefold during the period and the number of mobile app users increased to 166,000.

“This enabled our customers to maintain face to face contact with us, together with having access to their accounts from their mobile phone.

“We also managed to help and reassure many more people through our social media and web chat customer services support, noticing big increases in customers reaching out to us through our digital platforms.

“It’s fair to say our financial results reflect a difficult time; our mortgages and savings division has been heavily impacted by increased impairment charges and our estate agency division, Connells, saw all of its UK branches have to close for two months.

“However, the resilience of Skipton’s business model has allowed the Society to maintain strong capital ratios throughout.”

Cutter added: “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major social and economic disruption, and although the UK government has taken extraordinary steps to support people, public services and businesses, the impact on the general population is colossal.

“Whilst there remain significant uncertainties in assessing the long term social and financial impacts of the pandemic, Skipton remains forward-looking and focused on its purpose of meeting the short and long term interests of its members.

“Profits for the whole of 2020 will be significantly down on last year, and although Connells’ trading has been strong since the estate agency market re-opened, it is not yet clear whether this will be sustained or whether it is just due to pent up demand.

“Forecasting the outlook for house prices, unemployment and the housing market is extremely difficult at this moment in time.

“But the Society remains financially robust with a strong capital position and healthy levels of liquidity, and is in a good position to face the challenges ahead.”

By Jessica Bird

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Nationwide enhances lending options for first-time buyers

Nationwide Building Society has increased the lending limit for first-time buyers following the government’s temporary changes to stamp duty regulations, to provide further support to them and the housing market.

The lender will offer 90% loan-to-value (LTV) mortgages for first-time buyers from Monday 20 July, with no set limit on the number of home loans available.

These will be available direct from Nationwide or via a broker; enhanced criteria will apply.

Existing mortgage members moving home will be able to continue borrowing up to 95% LTV, while for further advances, the maximum has increased to 90% LTV.

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Henry Jordan, director of mortgages at Nationwide Building Society, said: “First-time buyers are vital to breathing life into the housing market and economy.

“We understand one of the biggest barriers to homeownership is raising a deposit.

“As a building society, owned by our members, we are extremely well placed to look at ways of helping people into a home of their own.

“While we will continue to monitor the market carefully, we feel it is the right time to enhance our lending, initially to those looking for their first home.

“We welcome the government’s announcement on stamp duty and hope our combined changes create a positive impact on a market that, despite being in relatively good health, is still recovering.”

Miles Shipside, commercial director and housing market analyst at Rightmove, added: “The ability for lenders to offer lower deposit mortgages to first-time buyers is critical to helping the market recover more quickly.

“The stamp duty holiday is of limited benefit to those first-time buyers who are already exempt from it in many parts of the country, and so Nationwide’s return to 90% loan-to-value is likely to help significantly more for those trying to get their first step on the ladder.

“There’s been record demand for property on Rightmove since the market reopened which has been boosted even further by the stamp duty announcement, all of which should help activity levels over the coming months.”

By Jessica Bird

Source: Mortgage Introducer