All posts by Christine Rouse

Government plan to rectify unsafe cladding

The Government’s pledge in February 2021 of an additional £3.5billion to help rectify unsafe cladding on high-rise buildings has been welcomed. Supporting people who find themselves living in a situation impacted by unsafe cladding could not be more important. There is understandably much keenness to implement the initiative quickly.

In the wake of the Grenfell tragedy on the 14th June 2017, the combustible cladding used on Grenfell and on buildings across England was identified as a major fire-safety concern which needed to be rectified.

Government commitments:

Five-point plan to bring an end to unsafe cladding

  • Government will pay for the removal of unsafe cladding for leaseholders in all residential buildings 18 metres and over (6 storeys) in England
  • Finance scheme to provide reassurance for leaseholders in buildings between 11 and 18 metres (4 to 6 storeys), ensuring they never pay more than £50 a month for cladding removal
  • An industry levy and tax to ensure developers play their part
  • A world-class new safety regime to ensure a tragedy like Grenfell never happens again
  • Providing confidence to this part of the housing market including lenders and surveyors

Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

“This is a comprehensive plan to remove unsafe cladding, support leaseholders, restore confidence to this part of the housing market and ensure this situation never arises again. Our unprecedented intervention means the hundreds of thousands of leaseholders who live in higher-rise buildings will now pay nothing towards the cost of removing unsafe cladding.”

It is encouraging to see the government taking the lead as the right place for debating this kind of vital legislation is at a senior government level.  The plan will mean also that surveyors can accurately value properties and that leads to banks being able to support homeowners with the mortgage solutions they need.

Henry Knight, Managing Director of Springtide Capital commented: ‘The measures announced last month will mean people living in homes which they have been prevented from selling, or re-mortgaging, through no fault of their own, will finally be able to push forward. What happened at Grenfell Tower is an absolute tragedy and rectifying the problem with poor cladding on other buildings must be a national priority lead by the government, outlining a clear way forward.’

The government will work closely with industry on the next steps and further details on the scheme will be provided in the coming weeks. There is a huge challenge to be met by the government to bring about the biggest changes to building safety in a generation. The Government is expected to agree the Building Safety Bill this spring.

Sources:

Government to bring an end to unsafe cladding with multi-billion pound intervention – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Extension of the stamp duty holiday

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the current stamp duty holiday in his budget announcement on March 3rd 2021, giving a further opportunity for buyers to capitalise on the temporary reduction in rates.

Since 8th July 2020, reduced rates of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) have applied to residential properties, a measure that was introduced in response to the outbreak of the Coronavirus Pandemic last year. A residential property purchased between 8 July 2020 and 31 March 2021 that was valued at up to £500,000 became subject to a zero charge in SDLT.

This first stage of the initiative was due to expire at the end of March, but the extension represents a staged withdrawal which means:

  • extending to the 30 June 2021 the nil rate band of £500,000.
  • introducing a nil rate band of £250,000 for the period 1 July 2021 to 30 September 2021

After that the standard zero rate band for stamp duty will revert to its pre-holiday level of £125,000.

Henry Knight, Managing Director of Springtide Capital, said the whole initiative has given a lifeline to the nation’s property market. There are currently around 234,000 house sales that have already been agreed during the Stamp Duty Holiday that have not yet been finalised. Extending the period of a reduction in rates will ensure those sales can go through without the buyers being penalised.

“The reduction in Stamp Duty Land Tax has undoubtedly been instrumental in keeping the property market afloat during this challenging time. We are pleased that the Chancellor has revised the offering, and trust it continues to have a positive impact on mortgages and our clients” he added.

Before the reduction in rates, SDLT was due on any residential property valued at £125,000 or above. Raising the threshold has encouraged both those looking to upsize and downsize, as well as boosting housebuilding. First time buyers previously were given relief on SDLT up to £300,000 and then 5% on the portion from £300,001 to £500,000. The Stamp Duty Holiday has been hailed as a particular success for first time buyers, allowing them to take their first steps on the property ladder. Regionally, the extension on the 3rd March is set to benefit those living and buying in London and the South-East most, where property prices on average are higher than across the rest of the country.

However, despite the extension, there is an expectation that there could be a sudden increase in new activity, with buyers likely to hit a “cliff edge” further down the line. A second wave of intensive activity may not dissipate the problem of getting all the transactions completed in time and only return the market to the same position it is now, with many buyers waiting to complete.

Henry Knight comments: “I hope the more tapered approach to the end of the holiday will help many avoid the cliff-edge scenario they were facing in the run up to the deadline. The tight deadline was highly stressful for buyers and put a huge amount of pressure on all the individuals involved in getting a house sale completed. Only time will tell if this move will be advantageous, as it will depend on how much new activity will be seen over the next two quarters. I very much hope the problem has not simply been deferred for a few months.”

To discuss any aspect of your mortgage with us please contact Springtide Capital on 020 3040 4400.

Sources:

https://www.gov.uk/stamp-duty-land-tax

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/extension-of-the-temporary-increase-to-the-stamp-duty-land-tax-nil-rate-band-for-residential-properties/extension-of-the-temporary-increase-to-the-stamp-duty-land-tax-nil-rate-band-for-residential-properties

Stamp duty holiday ‘to be extended until June in Sunak budget’ (msn.com)

https://www.gov.uk/stamp-duty-land-tax/residential-property-rates

Stamp duty: Holiday extension will benefit buyers ‘most’ in London and South East | Express.co.uk

90% Loan-to-value deals return to the mortgage market

With HSBC announcing their return to the 90% Loan-to-value arena on the 12th January 2021, it highlights a positive trend. The bank is one in a string of larger lenders to return, opening the market up to 1st time buyers again and potentially encouraging more smaller lenders to follow suit.

What is Loan to value?

Loan-to-value, or LTV is all about how much your mortgage borrowing is in relation to how much your property is worth. It’s a percentage figure that reflects the proportion of your property that is mortgaged, and the amount that is yours.

The number of 90% LTV products on the market has nearly doubled since last July, analysis from Moneyfacts shows. The data, which is due to be published in the Moneyfacts UK Mortgage Trends Treasury Report, found that the number of mortgage deals at a 90% LTV (which requires a 10% deposit) has increased from 88 on 1 December 2020 to 160 on 1 January 2021.  In addition to this, the average rates on both two and five year fixed rate deals at a 90% LTV have fallen month-on-month. The average two year fixed rate at 90% LTV has fallen by 0.14%, down from 3.79% on 1 December 2020 to 3.65% 1 January 2021, and the average five year fixed rate at 90% LTV has fallen by 0.13%, from 3.92% to 3.79% month-on-month during the same time period.

While choice has improved, rates are higher than in July 2020.

Moneyfacts finance expert Eleanor Williams says: “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.”

In recent months, lenders have been dipping in and out of the market, offering 90% LTV deals for only short periods. To now have products that will be available for longer periods will help meet the demand for these 90% LTV products and will provide more choice and certainty.

Henry Knight, Managing Director from Springtide Capital commented:

“With a variety of lenders and products returning to the higher LTV space, hopefully it brings a little bit of welcome normality and brings opportunities for those borrowers with a low deposit. Availability of high LTV mortgages, which typically only require a 10% deposit or less, help first time buyers become the next generation of homeowners.”

Those hoping to buy a property with a 10% deposit face limited choice and higher costs than they did before the pandemic, but with vaccines now available, everybody is hoping for a return to pre pandemic figures soon.

Major lenders such as Nationwide are also beginning to make rate cuts, and others are following creating a more competitive market. Now there is a Brexit deal agreed, house price rises and the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccines has begun, this should continue to give lenders more confidence to bring wider ranges of products to the market.

Borrowers requiring a mortgage to cover 95% of the purchase price have faced an even more challenging 2020, and they may have to wait a while for things to improve, with lenders only recently returning to 10% deposits and the current economic climate remaining uncertain.

With new products becoming available all the time, speak to one of our advisers today to discover the right option for you.

To speak to us todaycall Springtide Capital on 020 3040 4400

Sources:

https://www.mortgageintroducer.com/hsbc-launches-90-ltv-products/

What is LTV? | moneyfacts.co.uk

https://moneyfacts.co.uk/news/mortgages/first-time-buyer-deals-almost-double-month-on-month/

High-LTV lending back on the menu: Moneyfacts | Mortgage Strategy

Nationwide chops rates by up to 0.45% | Mortgage Strategy

2021 Open for Business

It is business as usual in the mortgage market, despite the third national lockdown. With the current global pandemic, like everybody, the whole property market has found itself in a complicated situation, quickly having to learn how to adapt to the changing environment. It is vital to the UK economy that the property market remains open to facilitate the unprecedented demand seen in the market in recent months.

Many property transactions are currently waiting to complete before the Stamp Duty holiday deadline ends on 31st March 2021. The whole industry is working towards making sure that all the aspirational homebuyers get their transactions over the line before the deadline.

The government continues to work closely with all parties to make sure there is a safe and robust system in place for everybody involved in the buying and selling process.

As we reported in June, many new regulations have been embraced and practices modified to make the home buying process safe and secure. The changes made to accommodate the COVID-19 pandemic continue to take extra time to facilitate and the industry has proven to be resilient and flexible.

RICS continues to revise guidelines for the property sector that outlines safe practices relevant to property agents, lenders, mortgage advisers, property lawyers/conveyancers, surveyors, energy assessors, property managers, home removal and associated professionals such as contractors involved in the property development, management and the home moving processes.

The whole market has been able to adapt and evolve to a more digitally enabled way of working, helping us operate above and beyond the government guidelines as the safety of our clients and staff is paramount. Understandably, physical viewings pose a concern although the industry remains well-positioned to carry out all elements of the transaction process in a safe and appropriate manner.

The impact on mortgages from the furlough scheme and the mortgage holiday scheme from 2020 are still not fully evident, but the industry is working hard to keep up to date with the changing landscape and act accordingly.

Henry Knight, Managing Director of Springtide Capital comments:

“Our key priority is to make sure we deliver positive customer outcomes, safely and comprehensively. We feel we have the right mix of experienced and knowledgeable colleagues to be able to meet the high expectations that the current situation demands. It serves no one’s interests if a borrower takes on an unaffordable mortgage and an understanding of all implications in the changing market is very important”

It has been reported that 81% of buyers and sellers are undeterred by a third lockdown.

We know the appetite to buy and sell or make home improvements is still strong and with the market remaining open for business, we can offer our customers the most comprehensive service possible by keeping up to date with all market aspects.

To speak to us today, call Springtide Capital on 020 3040 4400

Sources:

https://springtidecapital.com/2020/06/positive-steps/

Guidance for professionals (rics.org)

81% of buyers and sellers undeterred by third lockdown | Financial Reporter

Equity release uptake climbs back towards pre COVID levels

Q3 2020 equity release market statistics released by the Equity Release Council show a positive upturn. The number of new equity release plans agreed (10,351) increased by 41% from the previous quarter as national lockdown restrictions were eased across the UK.

Equity release allows individuals aged 55 and over to release money from the property they live in without having to make monthly payments.

There was a steady increase in new customer activity during Q3 also: July saw 3,147 new plans agreed, followed by 3,228 in August and 3,976 in September.

£963m of property wealth was unlocked in total during Q3 2020 by new or returning customers, up by 38% from Q2, but down 3% from Q3 2019. In addition, this activity would have been influenced by an extended pipeline and delayed cases from earlier in 2020.

David Burrowes, Chairman of the Equity Release Council, comments:

“Despite the uncertain climate, the market has adjusted well to the challenges of operating safely in a pandemic. Desktop property valuations have been used selectively, solicitors have taken extra steps to maintain consumer protections when advising remotely, and product pricing has remained competitive.”

During uncertain times, people are investigating how they are going to keep up their standard of living, pay for potential increases in care costs and plan ahead. Recent research found that 48 per cent of women and 41% of men are concerned about exhausting their retirement savings too soon.

Why equity release?

Your home could hold the key to improving your quality of life or breaking down financial barriers facing you or your family members. Equity release could help if you are looking to increase your available funds for a dream holiday, home improvements or to help a family member with their school or university fees.
If finances are tighter, it could be the ideal solution to help you with your regular monthly or quarterly bills.

Equity release plans are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and offer a safe way to unlock some of the tax-free funds that may be tied up in your property.

Henry Knight Managing Director of Springtide Capital commented:

“Equity release is becoming a popular option for those looking to release money from their property whilst continuing to live in it. 2020 has been an unprecedented year in many aspects. People are investigating the many alternative options for unlocking the capital in their homes and the increase in equity release activity in Q3 is no surprise. As always, regulated financial advice will help individuals make an informed choice.”

With so many features available within equity release schemes, speak to one of our advisers today to discover if it is the right option for you.

To speak to us todaycall Springtide Capital on 020 3040 4400

Sources:

https://www.equityreleasecouncil.com/news/q3-2020-market-statistics/

https://www.equityreleasecouncil.com/what-is-equity-release/

Half of women approaching retirement are worried about running out of money in later life – Equity Release Council

Financial Conduct Authority | FCA

Housing Market News

December 2020 is set to be the busiest month in the housing market in over a decade according to Zoopla. They report that house price inflation is expected to reach 4% by the end of the year but expect house price growth to slow to 1% in 2021.

Regionally, the South East saw the greatest rise in completions in 2020, up 7% year-on-year.

Zoopla suggests that of the new sales agreed in January, just half are likely to beat the SDLT deadline of the 31st March 2021, based on evidence from the previous year.

HOUSE PRICES:

Nationwide figures show that annual house price growth reached a 5 year high in October 2020:

  • Annual house price growth rises to 5.8% in October, this is the highest rate since January 2015
  • Prices up 0.8% month-on-month, after taking account of seasonal factors
  • Average Price (not seasonally adjusted) £227,826

Commenting on the figures, Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s Chief Economist, said:

“The outlook remains highly uncertain and will depend heavily on how the pandemic and the measures to contain it evolve as well as the efficacy of policy measures implemented to limit the damage to the wider economy. Behavioural shifts as a result of Covid-19 may provide support for housing market activity, while the stamp duty holiday will continue to provide a near term boost by bringing purchases forward”

THE ECONOMY

  • The Office of National Statistics The Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) 12-month inflation rate was 0.9% in October 2020, up from 0.7% in September 2020.
  • The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) 12-month rate was 0.7% in October 2020, up from 0.5% in September. 

GOVERNMENT:

As part of a £20bn overall government investment in long-term housing strategies, Chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed on the 25th November in his spending review speech, that the government is launching a £7.1bn Home Building Fund. The government initiative is intended to support the building of new homes, where they are most needed.

The Chancellor has also confirmed a £12bn investment for the Affordable Homes Programme.

Help to Buy: Equity Loan Scheme announced:

The Government is replacing the existing Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme with a new scheme that is restricted to first-time buyers only and introduces regional price limits.

The current scheme allows both first-time buyers and homeowners to use the Government-backed Help to Buy Equity Loan to buy a new-build home. The launch of the new scheme will result in only first-time buyers being able to apply for the loan, which must be used towards buying a new-build property.

In the new scheme, first-time buyers will still be able to borrow up to 20% (40% in London) of the cost of a newly built home. The buyer must pay a minimum of 5% deposit for the home and then need a help to buy mortgage to fund the remaining cost of the property. The loan is interest-free for the first five years and then interest fees start at 1.75% and rise each year in April by the Consumer Prices Index plus 2%. Borrowers are charged a monthly management fee of £1 for the term of the loan. The new Help to Buy Equity Loan (2021-2023) is due to replace the existing scheme on 1 April 2021.

Regional price caps have also been newly introduced, meaning homes eligible for the loan must be below the set maximum price. First-time buyers wanting to use the Help to Buy: Equity Loan (2021-2023) can reserve their new home using the scheme from 16 December 2020.

Henry Knight, Managing Director of Springtide Capital commented:

“The news of the new scheme is a positive one. It will help to support first time buyers enabling them to get onto the property ladder, especially first time buyers with smaller deposits who may face a much more limited choice of high loan-to-value mortgages.”

Sources:

House price growth close to three-year high – Zoopla

October 2020 House Price Release | Nationwide

Consumer price inflation, UK – Office for National Statistics

https://www.mortgageintroducer.com/govt-launch-1-7bn-home-building-fund/

https://www.helptobuy.gov.uk/equity-loan/help-to-buy-equity-loan-2021-2023/

Helpful tips if you are thinking of purchasing a property before the end of the stamp duty holiday

In England the stamp duty threshold sits at £500,000 until 31st March 2020 and buyers completing on their main residence up to this amount before this date, will not pay stamp duty. This is a temporary benefit, and due to the huge surge in the property market currently, applications are taking much longer than expected.

Research by Legal & General Mortgage Club, which surveyed housing market advisers, conveyancers and estate agents gives statistics which support an early as possible mortgage application:

  • The average purchase time from finding a property to completion is at least 15 weeks, (four months) as processing times for applications have doubled.
  • Before the pandemic, a mortgage application for a consumer with straightforward circumstances took less than two weeks (61%) to move to mortgage offer. Yet, since the re-opening of the mortgage market, advisers have found that this process is taking much longer – 30% said it is taking three to four weeks with a further 32% saying it is taking four to eight weeks. Those with more complex backgrounds, the self employed, those with impaired credit histories or who have been on furlough, may need to allow six to eight weeks (28%) to get approved for a mortgage.
  • Conveyancers indicated that the time between offer and exchange is now taking three weeks, while the period between exchange and completion stands at one to two weeks.
  • Estate agents indicated that the average time between receiving an offer on a property and completion has increased by some eight weeks.

This is an unprecedented situation and policy makers may need to consider a potential graduating of the stamp duty deadline. Lenders face the challenge of ensuring that borrowers only take on what they can afford in the long term and COVID-19 has complicated the financial situations of millions of people. Making high quality decisions is of the upmost importance.

The whole mortgage industry has an absolute requirement to prove beyond a doubt that everything the borrower says is true, and this is vital to make sure borrowers do not take on more debt than they can afford. Our advice to put yourself in the best position and get your application in before the end of the year is:

  1. Start your conversations early.
  2. Understand what you will need to provide-some applications for example, self employed applicants may have more information to gather for an application.
  3. Be clear on what information lenders require. If you are required to provide two months of bank statements, give every single page of the statement, or it can’t be checked off that all your bank statements have been received and you will go back to the bottom of the queue.
  4. Get your information together in one hit and packaged up well. Provide whatever documentation you are asked for, as soon as you are asked for it, and without debating the appropriateness of the request. Hesitating to answer, that will only warrant further uncertainty and slow things down more.

Henry Knight from Springtide Capital comments: “Preparation is key. It is important to make sure you understand all the information that is required for your application and provide this in one go. This will prevent your application being sent backwards and forwards, delaying your application. Aim to be the first cleared off the to-do list at each stage of the process so your loan can move forward as smoothly as possible”

In the current environment if you are struggling with what to do next regarding a mortgage, it is important to take advice as there are certain steps which may be worth taking.

At Springtide Capital we provide high quality impartial mortgage advice. We are a specialist mortgage broking business committed to providing a personal and efficient service. We understand the complexities of finding the right loan to suit both your financial and personal circumstances.

To speak to us todaycall Springtide Capital on 020 3040 4400

Source:

https://www.mortgagestrategy.co.uk/news/homebuyers-have-until-1-nov-to-save-on-stamp-duty/?eea=REd4cGpwaE8vZm9FWk8vZm5qWkVsY09qNVJ2THh1YWJlWTBoV0hJV29ERT0=&n_hash=934

Be patient with longer timescales for mortgage applications

The confidence in the UK housing market is at a four-year high, according to surveyors and estate agents. Nationwide reports that UK house prices saw their biggest annual rise last month since 2016. On average, values rose by 5% this September compared to September 2019.

There has been a huge surge in mortgage applications at a time when lenders face considerable challenges in getting their offerings out to borrowers. Be patient, lenders are lending. If your application is taking a long time it is not necessarily that there is an issue.

In the current market lenders have had to withdraw some 90% deals in order to have the capacity to keep processing applications. In trying to support buyers, lenders have been inundated, and removing some deals serves to stem the flow of business so that they make the overall volume more manageable.

The current delays have come about due to a number of factors. Staff across the mortgage industry, like other sectors are still working from home and subject to changing regulations and local lockdowns. Where staff are still working in an office, if several members of one  team need to self-isolate at one time in accordance with the Government legislation, this can make a significant difference to how long items take to progress.

Existing customers have been contacting lenders about mortgage holidays therefore they have had more calls to contend with causing delays. Just as with Mortgage Payment Holidays, the admin associated with the Bounce Back Loan scheme has added to the workload of lenders with staff previously employed in mortgage departments being moved to teams dealing with these types of emergency loans.

The property market is busier than ever and demand for mortgages is high. More people have decided to move since lockdown. With home working increasing, many people have decided they need a home with space for an office, while others have decided they simply need more space. Also, some people living in flats or in smaller homes with limited land have decided they need a garden. There has also been pent-up demand in the market created from 23rd March until 13th May when restrictions were in place.

The Stamp Duty holiday announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on the 8th July has boosted the property market. Buyers can save money on their house purchases as Stamp Duty has been cut on properties up to £500,000, whereas previously it was only at zero on properties up to a value of £125,000. Many buyers are keen to take advantage of this cut.

Volumes are consistently high across England and are higher than any of us expected. This increased pressure on the system also highlight issues inherent in the systems themselves. For example almost a third of English councils are taking 20 days or more to return local authority searches. Changes have been required across the industry in processes to accommodate new COVID related practices too.

Henry Knight from Springtide Capital commented:

“Everyone across the industry is inundated but do be patient. Banks are not quite back to the pre -COVID normal and the government stimulus of the stamp duty cut will continue to hold up transaction numbers for the next few months. Mortgage availability is healthy. We are all working together to process all parts of applications as quickly as possible”

Take a look at our tips to help your mortgage application run as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2020/sep/10/confidence-in-uk-housing-market-at-four-year-high-say-estate-agents

https://www.nationwide.co.uk/-/media/MainSite/documents/about/house-price-index/2020/Sep_Q3_2020.pdf

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/stamp-duty-land-tax-temporary-reduced-rates

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-coronavirus-bounce-back-loan

https://www.mortgagestrategy.co.uk/news/delays-put-buyers-at-risk-of-missing-stamp-duty-holiday/?eea=eHVnWE93ZDhyYWF1YVE3YlZiamUzR0JEckd6eUwyMDhNT2dkN1ZJZXF6WT0=&n_hash=922

Working together to navigate the changing market

Responding to the needs of customers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, mortgage payment holidays can be extended for a further three months, under plans from the government and regulators.

The availability of a three month mortgage holiday was first announced in March as part of an unprecedented package of support for individuals, businesses and the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Figures from UK Finance show 1.86 million mortgage payment holidays have been issued as of May 28th 2020 – equivalent to one in six mortgages.

Regarding the mortgage payment holiday scheme, on April 3rd 2020 Springtide Capital cautioned:

“The money you save from a payment holiday will need to be paid back at some stage during the lifetime of your mortgage and are specifically aimed at those that find themselves in financial difficulty. We encourage you to speak with one of our experienced brokers and we will help you understand the pros and cons specific to your mortgage. It is important that you understand the potential implications and all your alternative options”

Springtide Capital further strengthened their position later the same month stressing that borrowers should only take a repayment holiday as a “last resort”.

What to expect:

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published new draft guidance for lenders which will set out the expectations for firms and the options available to their customers. Following a short consultation, the guidance is set to come into force imminently and lenders will contact their customers whose mortgage holiday is coming to an end.

The outline guidance is set out as follows:

  • Customers who can afford to return to full repayment should do so in their best interests– at the end of a payment holiday, firms should contact their customers to find out if they can resume payments and if so, agree a plan on how the missed payments will be repaid.
  • Anyone who continues to need help gets help– lenders should continue to support customers who have already had a payment holiday where they need further help. Firms are expected to engage with their customers and find out what they can repay and, for those who remain in temporary financial difficulty, offer further support. As part of this firms should consider a further three-month payment holiday.
  • Extending the time the scheme is available to people who may be impacted at a later date– customers that have not yet had a payment holiday and experiencing financial difficulty will be able to request one until 31 October 2020.
  • Keeping a roof over people’s head during a public health crisis– the current ban on repossessions of homes will be continued to 31 October 2020. This will ensure people are able to comply with the government’s policy to self-isolate if they need to.
  • Payment holidays and partial payment holidays offered under this guidance should not have a negative impact on credit files. However, consumers should remember that credit files aren’t the only source of information which lenders can use to assess creditworthiness.
  • This guidance would not prevent firms from providing more favourable forms of assistance to the customer, such as reducing or waiving interest.
  • Firms should consider signposting customers towards sources of debt advice. Debt advice may be helpful for customers coming to the end of payment holidays and may be particularly useful for consumers with pre-existing payment shortfalls or who are likely to be in longer-term financial difficulty.
  • When implementing this guidance, firms should be particularly aware of the needs of their vulnerable customers and consider how they engage with them. For customers who aren’t able to use online services (such as digital channels), firms should make it easy for customers to access alternatives.

Christopher Woolard, Interim Chief Executive at the FCA, said: ‘Our expectations are clear – anyone who continues to need help should get help from their lender. We expect firms to work with customers on the best options available for them, paying particular attention to the needs of their vulnerable customers, and to provide information on where to access help and advice. Where consumers can afford to re-start mortgage payments, it is in their best interests to do so. But where they can’t, a range of further support will be available.’

It has been recently reported that Joe Garner, chief executive of the Nationwide Building Society has stated that a borrowers credit file should be marked if they take a further mortgage holiday. It has not yet been decided whether further mortgage repayment breaks will be marked on credit files. Currently, lenders can see whether a holiday has been taken without it being negatively marked on credit history.

Henry Knight, Managing Director of Springtide Capital commented:

“Our advice remains the same, a mortgage holiday is only for people who absolutely need one. We are pleased guidance is being set out but we urgently need to hear from lenders to understand how this further mortgage payment holiday extension will impact borrowers. Brokers need banks to be transparent on the implications of a borrower taking a mortgage holiday”

This is a difficult and changing time and it is not yet apparent what the long-term impact of the payment holiday scheme will have on both borrowers and the market. To a large extent, the majority of the financial effects of the lockdown have yet to be fully realised, but ultimately it serves no one’s interests if a borrower takes on an unaffordable mortgage.

The mortgage payment holiday scheme is a vital lifeline to those homeowners who are suffering financially due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, whilst helping with short-term cash flow issues, a full understanding of the implications of a mortgage payment holiday must be thoroughly investigated. Lenders must be transparent in how they are going to view or interpret information in the medium to long term. The mortgage market has a strong appetite to lend and is committed to helping those customers who need assistance. The upcoming regulation from the FCA will help provide certainty for all parties.

Sources:

https://www.fca.org.uk/publications/guidance-consultations/mortgages-coronavirus-updated-draft-guidance-firms

http://emaila.ukfinance.org.uk/q/1H8LdNb8HjSWcgJdMWTNN/wv

https://springtidecapital.com/

https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/fca-support-customers-struggling-mortgage-coronavirus

https://www.mortgagesolutions.co.uk/news/2020/04/22/brokers-warn-mortgage-holidays-should-be-last-resort-for-borrowers/

https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/fca-support-customers-struggling-mortgage-coronavirus

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52847131

 

Positive steps

The housing market has re-opened to a promising start in England. There is cautious optimism as new regulations have been embraced and practices modified. The changes made to accommodate the COVID-19 pandemic have been many and the industry has proven to be resilient and flexible.

Safety First

Restrictions began to ease three weeks ago with comprehensive guidance published by the Government. This document is frequently updated. Pan industry guidance from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has supported the return to work of thousands of support professionals who play a critical role in the housing sector, specifically on physical inspections for mortgage valuations and home surveys. The document that outlines safe practices is relevant to property agents, lenders, mortgage advisers, property lawyers/conveyancers, surveyors, energy assessors, property managers, home removal and associated professionals such as contractors involved in the property development, management and the home moving processes. Ensuring social distancing practices are adhered to has proved key to re-opening safely and to regaining buyer confidence.

Surge in buyer demand

Buyer demand across England surged by 88 per cent after the housing market reopened, figures from Zoopla show (correct as of 27th May 2020). The website detailed that almost 60 per cent of buyers in the UK are planning to continue with their search for their next property. Although, 41 per cent said they have put their plans on hold with loss of income, uncertainty in the market and lack of confidence in future finances given as reasons for this decision.

Richard Donnell from Zoopla commented:

“The scale of the rebound in demand for housing is welcome news for estate agents and developers, but it is also surprising given projections for a sharp rise in unemployment and a major decline in economic growth. Many households are likely to have re-evaluated what they want from their home. This could well explain the scale of the demand returning to the market.”

Mortgage enquiries

Brokers were unfurloughed and advisers returned as mortgage market activity increased. As solicitors returned to near pre-lockdown levels, completion dates are now being set and purchases progressed.

Searches for products and mortgage deals across the housing market started in earnest and the number of product illustrations downloaded by brokers has increased for the fifth consecutive week, data from Mortgage Brain reports. Mortgage Brain highlights a number of interesting facts (data correct as of 3rd June)

  • Over the past seven days the number of European standardised information sheets downloaded by mortgage advisers increased by 11.5 per cent.
  • Volumes have increased by 27.7 per cent since the housing market formally reopened three weeks ago and by 43.7 per cent from the lowest point seen in the week ending April 26.
  • However, ESIS downloads are still down by 23.7 per cent on the nine-week average to March 16.
  • The number of available mortgage products now stands at 8,635, which is 2.2 per cent higher than last week and 16.3 per cent higher than the low point in the week ending April 12.

Kevin Roberts, director, Legal & General Mortgage Club notes also that there are many promising signs:

“We saw lenders …returning to 90 per cent LTV and my conversations with advisers across the market suggest that they are seeing positive interest from clients as well. Our data also shows that adviser searches on behalf of a wide range of customers, from first-time buyers through to landlords, are increasing too.”

Henry Knight, Managing Director of Springtide Capital commented:

“The initial surge in the market is a welcome sign. The substantial amount of effort to make this happen whilst securing the safety of all parties is a huge achievement. All involved in the industry, my own staff included, have proved to be flexible and resilient in adapting practices and procedures in line with regulations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been inspiring to see the dedication from all involved, and to see how the market continues to evolve to meet the unprecedented situation we have all been faced with”

First-time buyers and key workers will get 30% discount on new homes under the government’s proposed new ‘First Home’s scheme.

First-time buyers and key workers and will be able to buy new-build homes with a 30% discount under a new scheme being proposed by the Government. It will be designed to help people in areas of high demand, who would be unable to afford to buy a home locally without the discount. It is anticipated that it will enable first-time buyers in England to save an average of nearly £100,000.

The government consultation for the design of ‘First Homes’ is currently underway. Key workers, such as nurses, police officers, firefighters, and teachers, as well as armed forces veterans, will be given priority to take advantage of the initiative.

There is no doubt that it will require time and patience for the market to fully recover. There is much uncertainty about what lies ahead and many pressures we face are still present. Economically we will face significant challenges. Some areas of the market may take longer to bounce back than others, for example purchases by overseas clients will remain slow until travel restrictions are lifted. But there are also many positives and the way we have reacted and adapted within the industry is heartening. There is much liquidity in the market, lenders are keen to lend, backlogs have been cleared and initiatives are present to help those with financial challenges. As an industry we have pulled together successfully and are ready to help buyers with their next steps.

………………………….

Sources:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/homes

https://www.rics.org/globalassets/rics-website/media/news/covid19/covid-19-guide—re-opening-the-uk-home-moving-market-13-05-2020.pdf

https://www.zoopla.co.uk/press/releases/demand-for-housing-in-england-jumps-above-prelockdown-levels-as-60-of-potential-buyers-say-they-will-push-ahead-with-their-plans/

https://www.mortgagesolutions.co.uk/news/2020/05/26/brokers-unfurlough-advisers-as-mortgage-market-activity-jumps/

https://www.mortgagestrategy.co.uk/news/market-momentum-builds-mortgage-brain/

https://www.mortgagestrategy.co.uk/opinion/comment-open-for-business/?eea=eHVnWE93ZDhyYWF1YVE3YlZiamUzR0JEckd6eUwyMDhNT2dkN1ZJZXF6WT0=&n_hash=576

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/864265/First_Homes_consultation_document.pdf