Property market forecasts for 2012

Filed under: Mortgages, Finance, Comments on the news — theo at 2:31 pm on Monday, January 2, 2012

Despite the adverse economic climate, positive factors such as the low interest rates offered in the market as well as the promise of safer mortgage lending rules from FSA contributed to house prices rising by a modest 1% in 2011, according to Nationwide, with London prices surpassing the 5% mark.

In reality, the 1% increase in house prices is overshadowed by annual inflation and this is expected to remain true for 2012.

But what will happen to property prices in 2012?

The uncertain economic situation in the EU means that house price changes will be difficult to predict and many property market experts and forecasters have different opinions on how 2012 will play out.

Both Halifax and Nationwide predict a mostly stagnant market with stability in house prices.

Halifax’s housing economist, Martin Ellis, commented: “Overall, we expect continuing broad stability in house prices nationally during 2012. Prices are again likely to end the year at levels close to where they began with the market continuing to lack any real direction.”

Nationwide’s chief economist Robert Gardner commented: “2012 isn’t shaping up to be much better than 2011, for the UK economy or the housing market.”

Other predictions have been less optimistic for the coming year with several property market experts forecasting a moderate decline in house prices.

IHS Global Insight, Capital Economics as well as estate agent Knight Frank all predict no less than a 5% dip in house prices during 2012.

IHS Global Insight economist Howard Archer commented: “House prices will fall by around 5% overall from current levels by mid-2012 as weak economic fundamentals outweigh extended low interest rates.”

While Knight Frank said: “Our view is that conditions in the UK mainstream market over the next few years will resemble our “slow correction” scenario, under which the market will experience an extended period of low transaction numbers and price falls in real terms.”

Moreover, a few experts predict dramatic declines in house prices, with some experts forecasting declines of 10% or more.

Jonathan Davis of Jonathan Davis Wealth Management has made the grimmest prediction for the UK house market in 2012: “Fall of 7 to 12%. This year will be down a couple or a few per cent but, in real terms, it will be down around 8%. Not insignificant at all.”

However, a few house market forecasters are predicting a rise in property prices for 2012. Rightmove’s experts predict their house price index to turn a 2% increase over the next year.

FSA proposes new, safer mortgage lending rules

Filed under: Loans, Mortgages, Comments on the news — theo at 3:38 pm on Monday, December 19, 2011

Earlier today, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) announced plans for a new set of mortgage lending rules to prevent “a return of the risky mortgage lending seen in boom times”.

The new set of rules should prevent homeowners from borrowing more than they can afford and are likely to come in full effect by 2013.

FSA’s latest mortgage market review paper (pdf, 2.4 MB) outlines the need for all prospective borrowers to get the right information and advice. It also aims to ensure that mortgage lenders will be assessing the affordability of loans more effectively and be thoroughly checking each applicant’s ability to keep up with their mortgage repayments.

Existing borrowers who might have been prevented from remortgaging will also be allowed some degree of flexibility to manage their lending terms under the new mortgage lending rules.

According to the three key proposals of “good mortgage underwriting”, as explained by FSA, borrowers should avoid assumptions on future house prices and lenders should assess long-term affordability. The three key proposals specifically state that:

Mortgages and loans should only be advanced when the borrower can afford repayments without relying on future house price rises.

Every affordability assessment should take into account any future changes in interest rates with a minimum five-year outlook and borrowers should not enter contracts based on the assumption that the initial interest rates will not change later on.

Interest-only mortgages should be assessed no differently than repayment mortgages unless the borrower has a viable option to pay off the loan that does not rely on the assumption that house prices will rise.

Chairman of the FSA, Lord Turner commented on the proposed rules:

“We believe that these are common sense proposals which serve the interests of both lenders and borrowers. While the excesses of the pre-crisis period have largely disappeared from the current market, it is important to ensure that better practice endures in future when memories of the crisis recede and the dangers of poor practice return.”

“The three key proposals are, we believe, the most effective way to tackle the problem of risky lending. But it is essential that we understand what their impact would be – how many consumers would be protected from the distress of arrears and repossessions, and, how many consumers who could have afforded a mortgage might have to take out a smaller mortgage or to delay their purchase.”

“The estimates are inherently uncertain, but they suggest that the new rules would have only a marginal effect in current market conditions – and particularly so for first time buyers – but would act as a significant constraint if market practice were in danger of returning to the 2005 to 2007 pattern. That pattern of effect would be a highly desirable one. We are however particularly keen that lenders provide their detailed assessment of the likely impact of these proposed rules. Then the FSA will be able to make appropriate final decisions.”

“The proposals published today reflect the ideas and input of many stakeholders, including consumer groups and lenders. We believe these proposals will hardwire common sense standards into mortgage lending and guard against the risky lending practices of the past – leaving most borrowers unaffected, but better protected.”

The FSA Board will make a decision on the final form of the new mortgage lending rules in summer 2012.

All-time record in mortgate repayments underlines concerns for the economy

Filed under: Mortgages, Debt, Comments on the news — theo at 6:34 pm on Thursday, December 1, 2011

According to house equity withdrawal (HEW) data released by the bank of England on Wednesday, households are paying back a record amount on their mortgage.

During the second quarter of 2011 alone, consumers paid back £9.1bn on their mortgages, amounting to 3.5% (-3.5% of HEW) of their post-tax income. This is the largest figure ever paid back in a three-month period since the Bank of England started collecting data.

To put these figures in perspective; in late 2006, house equity withdrawal had peaked at 5.6% of post-tax income, as compared to -3.5% from April to June of 2011. Simply put, house owners were remortgaging their properties a lot more before the recession.

Today, as home owners are cutting back on spending and house prices continue to fall, remortgaging does not have the appeal it had during the “boom” years. Since June of 2008 a grand total of £92.9bn has been paid back instead of being spent by home owners.

An article by Kate Reinold of the Bank’s structural economic analysis division (.pdf, 70 MB) published with the 2011 Q2 Quarterly Bulletin explained that the fall in HEW since the recession is “likely to reflect a fall in the number of housing transactions, with little sign that households in aggregate are making an active effort to pay down debt more quickly than in the past.”

IHS expert Howard Archer said: “The record net injection of housing equity in the second quarter points to a strong desire and perceived need of many people to improve their personal financial balance sheets given high debt levels and serious concerns over the economic situation and jobs.”

“Furthermore, extremely low savings interest rates have made it much more attractive for many people to use any spare funds that they have to reduce their mortgages. In particular, many people may be using the extra money that is resulting from their very low mortgage interest payments to reduce the balance that they still owe on their houses.”

Northern Rock plc sold to Virgin Money

Filed under: Loans, Mortgages, Credit Cards, Finance, Comments on the news — theo at 7:10 pm on Saturday, November 19, 2011

Forbes analysts explain that the mortgage crisis of 2007 had forced Northern Rock to turn to the Bank of England for liquidity support to meet short term debt obligations and unable to an acceptable offer from the private sector, Northern Rock was eventually nationalized on February 17, 2008.

Now, the British Government is selling Northern Rock plc to Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Money for £747m. Completion of the transaction is expected on 1 January 2012.

The official announcement states that “The sale is in the best interests of the taxpayer, secures the long-term future of the company and will increase competition in the banking sector. This is part of the Government’s wider strategy for the banking sector with safer ring-fenced banks and more competition for customers.”

As part of the sales agreement Virgin Money has committed to:
• No further compulsory redundancies, beyond those already announced, for at least three years from the completion of the transaction.
• Retaining and expanding the total number of branches currently operated by Northern Rock.
• Extending support for the Northern Rock charitable foundation for a further year.
• Making Newcastle the operational headquarters for the combined business.

According to the press release from Virgin Money the transaction will create a significant new competitor in UK retail banking and, in doing so, it will help increase diversity in the retail banking sector as Virgin Money seeks to innovate and expand into new market segments.

Virgin Money stated that the transaction has the potential to eventually raise more than £1bn for the taxpayer in the long term along with numerous other benefits including the return of public sector stakes in banks to the private sector.

Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group said: “Banking in the UK needs some fresh ideas and an injection of new competition. I’m delighted we will get the chance to work with the loyal staff of Northern Rock to create a new force in the market. Virgin has a history of entering new sectors to improve service and provide value for customers. We plan to do the same in banking”.

While many analysts have commented positively on these developments others are skeptical and some have warned that Virgin Money products must become more competitive in order to revitalize the stagnant banking market.

Adrian Coles, director general of the Building Societies Association, said that Northern Rock’s sale was a “bittersweet moment” with both positive and negative effects on the market.

House Prices Expected to Fall as Central London Prices could Continue to Climb in 2012

Filed under: General, Mortgages, Finance, Comments on the news — theo at 6:01 pm on Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Average house prices across the UK have been steadily declining throughout the year and according to a survey by Halifax consumers expect house prices to drop even more in the foreseeable future.

According to the survey, thirty percent of the people surveyed predicted a further decline in prices over the next twelve months while a quarter said that prices will not change in the coming year. All the while a house price expectations index by Halifax fell to -2 from this year’s highest value of +9 in April.

Halifax economist Martin Ellis commented: “It is unsurprising that confidence in the housing market has been shaken a little over the last few months given the increasing uncertainty about the current economic environment, together with pressure on householders’ finances,” and he added: “We expect little change in both prices and activity over the next few months.”

Forecasts on house prices by analysts have also been pessimistic, predicting house prices to drop by as much as 5% in 2012. The generally weakened economy combined with substantial fears that the economy could start shrinking again point to further decline in house prices over the next twelve months.

However, as residential property prices across the UK continue to fall, prime central London prices continue their steady climb. According to the Land Registry house prices in London have increased by 2.7% since September 2010 and are now at an all-time high.

Many observers question the stability of those inflated figures, especially at the top end of the market, while others argue that these figures reflect a growing tendency for buyers, both local and overseas, to purchase central London property as a long-term investment.

Mortgage approval numbers rise while future lending might be constrained

Filed under: Loans, Mortgages, Finance — theo at 9:08 am on Thursday, October 20, 2011

The bank of England approved 52,410 new mortgage loans in August, marking the highest number of mortgage approvals since December 2009.

The director-general of the Building Societies Association, Adrian Coles commented: “Approval figures continue to look promising as consumers take advantage of the competitive mortgage rates.” But he also forewarned: “However, the outlook for the economy has deteriorated over the past month as has consumer confidence, which could well spill into the housing market, causing further weakness”

The number of new mortgages approved for home buyers in August was nearly 3,000 more than in July and over than 5,000 more than the previous six-month average.

Meanwhile, the Nationwide reports that: “UK house prices changed little in September” rising by 0.1% in the month but still being 0.3% lower than one year ago.

As new mortgage approvals are expected to continue in the coming months experts believe that sales funded by mortgage loans will see an increase during autumn and this could be reflected in the coming updates to the House Price Indexes across the country.

However, according to the Bank of England’s latest credit conditions curvey (2001/Q3) a lending squeeze to households and small businesses might be imminent due to the eurozone crisis.

According to the Bank’s Q3 survey, lenders “pointed to adverse wholesale funding conditions as a key factor which might constrain future lending.” And recent discussions with some of the major lenders suggested that “although these factors had not yet led to reduced credit availability, a period of sustained tight funding conditions could act to constrain their ability to extend loans going forward.”

Between the rising number of mortgage approvals and the adverse wholesale funding conditions reported by the Bank of England there might be a relatively small window of opportunity before 2012 for households and small businesses to take advantage of an optimal mortgage loan.

Millions of homeowners caught in interest only trap.

Filed under: Mortgages — Administrator at 2:43 pm on Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In recent years as many as 4 out of 10 mortgages have been taken out on an “interest only” basis. Many of these borrowers expected that assumed growth in house prices would help them pay off their loans – but something went wrong. Instead of house prices increasing they went into reverse. Over the last two years many properties have lost as much as 25% of their pre credit crunch value.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has estimated that as many as 4.2 million borrowers have to face the possibility that their interest only mortgage could mean that they’ll not be able to move for some years to come as the sales proceeds from their home would not leave them with sufficient to fund the deposit for their next home. Indeed, some would be left still owing money to their lender after selling their home due to negative equity.

To make the situation even worse, as unemployment has risen, it is inevitable that some of these borrowers will have become unemployed or have been forced to take new employment on lower wages.

At the moment many mortgage advisers are advising clients to switch from interest only deals to conventional repayment mortgages. But if they cannot afford to do this they should either over pay on their current mortgage or start up a regular saving plan.

If you are caught in this “interest only” basis then please do not ignore the problem. It’s a ticking time bomb.

First time buyers face waiting until their late 30’s before buying a home of their own.

Filed under: Mortgages — Administrator at 1:32 pm on Monday, December 14, 2009

Economists say that the average age of a first time buyer who isn’t receiving financial help from their parents is 37 compared to 31 for those who are lucky enough to get help from Mum and Dad.

This is not surprising bearing in mind that the latest figure from the Council of Mortgage Lenders shows that the average deposit for a first time buyer has increased from £13,194 in September 2007 to £31,875 now.

And even when a buyer has their offer accepted, the problems don’t stop. Despite recent increases in sale prices, surveyors are still down grading house values and frequently the value they attach to the house for lending purposes is lower than the agreed sale price.

The Halifax has reported that house prices grew by 1.5% during the summer but the price of flats and maisonettes popular amongst first time buyers grew by nearer 2.5%. This is due to a shortage of affordable properties suitable for first time buyers.

The figures also show the affect of the lenders tightening up on lending multiples combined with lower prices post credit crunch. The average advance to first time buyers has fallen from £118,750 to £95,625.

All this is not good news for the property market. A healthy property market relies on all sectors of the market being buoyant.

New mortgage deals only for early birds.

Filed under: Mortgages, Credit Crunch — Administrator at 11:10 am on Thursday, December 10, 2009

Building Societies are beginning to introduce some cheap mortgage deals – but you’ll have to get up early to bag one.

The Newcastle B. S. and the Coventry have stolen a march on their competitors by launching some fantastic rates but there are signs that the Newcastle could their deals very soon and the Coventry withdrew theirs after just seven days,

The basic problem is that the building societies are unable to borrow in the money markets and all their mortgage lending have to be funded by investors savings and mortgage repayments from their clients. So if their deals turn out to be very popular, the money runs out in a flash.

And first time buyers still shouldn’t get too excited either. They may be the first to get out of bed and queue at the building society, but all these deals still require a deposit of at least 20% and a near perfect credit history.

The credit crunch remains with us.

Homes bought off plan can cause financial hardship

Filed under: Mortgages, Debt, Credit Crunch — Administrator at 10:23 am on Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Just imagine. You’ve been to the show house, fallen in love with the housing development and signed up to buy a house off plan for £500,000 and paid the 10% deposit. The only problem you may have thought was that you’d have to wait 12 months to move in.

Ten months later the letter arrives to say that the house will be ready in 8 weeks. But things have changed. House prices have fallen and the building society values the house at £425,000 and, as business is not so good, your income has fallen too.

What do you think the building society will say? Yes, you guessed it – no mortgage! But you have signed a contract to pay the balance of £450,000 for your new home and the builder wants his money and you’ve signed a legal contract to pay.

This sort of situation does happen. Berkeley Homes is in the process of taking an unknown number of it’s clients to court to recover the money they are owed.

So please be very cautious if you are tempted to buy a home off plan especially if you are having to raise a hefty mortgage to complete the deal. And also be aware that, despite the recent upswing in house prices, some commentators are still forecasting that house prices will go into reverse again next year.

Please be careful.

Mortgage fashions change

Filed under: Mortgages — Administrator at 2:09 pm on Friday, December 4, 2009

In the last six months we have witnessed a dramatic change in mortgage choices. In May this year 8 out of 10 new borrowers chose a fixed rate mortgage with the remainder opting for a tracker or discounted mortgage.

Yet just six months later consumer choices have totally changed. Last month 8 out of 10 new borrowers selected trackers or discounts and just 2 went for a fix.

This has all come about because general financial opinion thinks that low interest rates are here for a few years as the British economy claws itself out of recession. Everyone knows that the Bank of England’s Base rate cannot remain at 0.5% for ever – it will rise – but expectation now has those increases pencilled in for a few years hence (probably up to 2011).

So will those borrowers who locked into fixed rates at under 4% for 5 years back in April and May, be the eventual winners? Let me have your views.

Standard rate mortgage holders need to watch their monthly repayments

Filed under: Mortgages — Administrator at 2:09 pm on Thursday, December 3, 2009

Those homeowners paying a variable rate mortgage need to keep an eye on their monthly repayments because some lenders are increasing their standard variable interest rates (SVR).

For example, Accord which is part of the Yorkshire Building Society has recently increased its SVR by 0.65% to 5.99%. This follows a number of rate increases by the Cambridge, Scottish and Ipswich building societies. Other mortgage lenders are expected to follow suit.

More people are now paying SVR’s after completing their fixed rate deals as the new tracker and fixed rates available are often to expensive. But there can be a big gap between the best and worst SVR’s. The nationwide is currently holding their SVR at 2.5% for existing borrowers although it is 3.99% for new borrowers.

The average SVR over 15 of the largest lenders is 4.8%. This means that a mortgage of £150,000 over 20 years at this average SVR would cost £973.

Go to the Post Office for a mortgage?

Filed under: Mortgages — Administrator at 12:42 pm on Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Yes, on the quiet the Post office has moved into mortgages. You should now be able to find details of their mortgage products in every Post Office whilst mortgage advisers are on hand to assist with applications in 250 of the largest Post Offices.

They have ten varying mortgage deals varying from 5 year fixed rates to “life of loan trackers”.

They charge a fixed application fee of £599 on every mortgage application including buy-to-let mortgages. However, you must have at least a 20% deposit to apply for any of their mortgage products.

HIPs to go but the EPC element t remain

Filed under: Mortgages, Comments on the news — Administrator at 10:23 am on Monday, November 30, 2009

The Conservative Party has said that it will abolish Home Information Packs at the start of a Conservative Government but sellers will still have to produce an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – that’s presumably because EPC’s are mandatory under an EU Directive.

We are yet to find out whether the EPC would have to be renewed every time a property is put on the market or whether it will be valid for a fixed period of time. What is clear is that the cost aspect of a EPC will be only a little less than the current cost of a HIP.

That’s because it’s the energy saving element of the HIPs that costs the most money to provide. But does the public have any confidence in the energy ratings? It seems that EPC assessments can come out with very different ratings depending on who surveys the property so it clearly is not a reliable assessment.

And in any case, when we’re off shopping for a new home do we really bring energy assessments into our selection criteria? Certainly not me!

But could there be another reason for EPC’s? I can just forsee some green politician suggesting that properties be subject to a new energy tax based on their EPC rating!

An inaccurate credit report can cause misery

Filed under: Loans, Mortgages, Credit Cards, Finance — Administrator at 9:59 am on Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Some borrowers are finding it impossible to gain access to the best mortgage deals, loans and credit cards despite having paid all their bills on time. Why? Because the credit reference agencies have made errors on the credit file they hold on that person.

Nobody gets everything right one hundred per cent of the time and this applies to the credit agencies as well. They make mistakes – but you pay dear for their mistakes!

Confusing you with someone else, recording other peoples’ credit problems on your file and general inaccuracies can wreck your credit rating and cause you untold headaches.

Our advice is check your files held by the three main credit reference agencies – Equifax, Experian and Callcredit. You are entitled to receive a copy of your file for an administration fee of £2 - and go through it with a fine tooth comb. If anything is wrongly recorded, the agencies have procedures you can follow to have your file corrected. The problem is that it all takes time and is a pain in the neck!

But until your record is corrected credit will either cost you more or even be refused. So once you have your record spot on, it’s a good idea to make the same check every year.

The Financial Services Authority proposes tougher controls on mortgage lenders

Filed under: Loans, Mortgages, Finance — Administrator at 12:34 pm on Monday, November 23, 2009

The FSA wants to reform the way mortgage lenders agree new mortgages. It’s proposals include a ban on self-certification mortgages and more detailed verification of the borrowers income.

The FSA’s 7 points are as follows:
1. A ban on self-certification mortgages which some have labelled “liar loans”.
2. Borrowers to provide far more detils about their income.
3. Abolish fast-track applications where mortgages are approved without detailed checks.
4. More stringent affordability checks to ensure borrowers can cope if interest rates rise.
5. Buy-to-let mortgages to be regulated.
6. All second charged loans to be regulated
7. All non-bank mortgage lenders to be subject to new and more rigorous, capital requirements.

Jon Pain, the FSA’s Managing Director is reported as saying, “We have to, learn from the lessons of the past. Affordability tests are important as we want to be sure that a borrowers net income is enough to cover the prepayments.”

If your credit is good, you CAN get a big mortgage

Filed under: Mortgages — Administrator at 11:19 am on Tuesday, November 17, 2009

According to a recent report from the housing charity Shelter, banks are still prepared to offer a mortgage of up to 5.5 times your annual salary if your credit history and your job are both good enough.

Having said that anyone taking such a weighty mortgage would have great difficulty getting their family budget to balance and places them in serious danger of becoming financially overwhelmed.

Back in more conservative banking days, a big mortgage was judged at around 3.5 times annual salary which left the homeowner to comfortably afford the other family bills.

There are concerns that bank staff are being increasingly pressurised to drive sales and both Barclays and Santander were prepared to offer a 5.5 multiple. The Royal bank of Scotland (RBS) and NatWest both offered 4.75 multiples and Direct Line, a subsidiary of RBS offered 4.8. (Info from Shelter)

Mortgage rates fall

Filed under: Mortgages — Administrator at 11:41 am on Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Good news for mortgage hunters! Last week a number of mortgage lenders cut their rates as the Bank of England kept its bases rate steady at 0.5%.

Northern rock cut up to half a percent off its trackers and 0.3% off its fixed rates.

Then Nationwide cut 0.31% off its fixed rates and 0.2% off its trackers.

Then Alliance & Leicester cut trackers by 0.4%.

To us this looks like the lending market sharpening up its act following criticisms that their rates were far too out of line with the BoE’s base rate. If we are right more is to come!

However, we anticipate that the brake will only be released on people who have substantial deposits and perfect credit records. It’s going to remain tough for the rest.

You have find another mortgage lender

Filed under: Mortgages — Administrator at 10:47 am on Monday, November 9, 2009

If your mortgage lender is part of one of the nationalised banks such as Intelligent Finance (which is part of Halifax a rescued bank) or Northern Rock, the odds are you’ll b told to get a new mortgage elsewhere if you want to move home.

Mortgage clients at Northern Rock who took out their mortgage after 12th may 2008 are only being offered refinancing if the remortgage is of the same value as the clients existing mortgage.

Whereas Intelligent Finance has informed its clients that if they want to remortgage, they have to go to other lenders owned by Lloyds Bank (such as Scottish Widows or the Halifax). If they go elsewhere they could face exit penalties. And as from April 2010, no one with a mortgage with Intelligent Finance will be able to refinance their deal wit IF.

FSA to tighten up rules for mortgage lending

Filed under: Mortgages, Credit Crunch — Administrator at 10:02 am on Monday, October 19, 2009

The Financial Services Authority is expected to announce a new crackdown to head off irresponsible mortgage lending of the kind that was witnessed pre credit crunch.

The central recommendation is expected to be a requirement for all lenders to undertake detailed affordability checks before lending and make the lenders responsible for showing that the borrows can afford to repay the loan. This recommendation sounds the death knell of the self-certified mortgage which previously enabled borrowers to get their mortgage without providing proof of income.

Self-certified loans were popular with the self employed and accounted for over a third of all new mortgages back in 2007. But defaults on them have run at a far higher level than ordinary home loans so the FSA has decided to call “time” on them.

Other changes being considered by the FSA include extending regulation to second charge lending and the buy-to-let market.

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