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

Gross Mortgage lending for December 2019

Gross mortgage lending for December 2019 stands at £22.2 billion

According to the latest Household Finance Update from UK Finance, Gross mortgage lending across the residential market in December 2019 was £22.2 billion. The annual total for 2019 to £265.8 billion. Although annually 1.1 per cent lower than in 2018, the last two years have broadly reflected the continuation of a stronger long term lending trend over recent years.

  • An annual total of 982,286 mortgages were approved by the main high street banks during 2019, 7.4 per cent more than in 2018
  • The full year number of mortgages approved for home purchases were 8.0 per cent higher, remortgage approvals were 7.9 per cent higher and approvals for other secured borrowing were 3.0 per cent higher than in 2018

THE ECONOMY

The Office of National Statistics reported that the Consumer Prices Index, including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) 12-month inflation rate was 1.4% in December 2019, down from 1.5% in November 2019.

The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) 12-month rate was 1.3% in December 2019, down from 1.5% in November 2019.

HOUSING

There was an annual house price growth of 1.4% in 2019 according to Nationwide figures:

  • Prices rose 0.1% in December, after taking account of seasonal factors
  • Annual price declines persist in London and the Outer South East
  • The average house price in December (not seasonally adjusted) was £215,282
  • Raising a deposit remains key challenge for prospective first time buyers

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

“Looking ahead, economic developments will remain the key driver of housing market trends and house prices. Much will continue to depend on how quickly uncertainty about the UK’s future trading relationships lifts as well as the outlook for global growth. Overall, we expect the economy to continue to expand at a modest pace in 2020, with house prices remaining broadly flat over the next twelve months.”

The FCA in their statistics on mortgage lending December 2019 edition, released the following key findings in relation to Q3:

  • The outstanding value of all residential mortgage loans was £1,486 billion in 2019 Q3, 3.9% higher than a year earlier.
  • The value of gross mortgage advances was £73.3 billion, broadly unchanged in comparison to 2018 Q3.
  • The value of new mortgage commitments (lending agreed to be advanced in the coming months) was 1.1% higher than a year earlier, at £73.8 billion.
  • The share of gross mortgage lending for buy-to-let purposes (covering house purchase, remortgage and further advance) was 12.3%, consistent with 2018 Q3.

Help to Buy Isa applications close for start of December

The final providers of the Help to Buy Isa – aimed at saving for a first home deposit – closed the window for new applications on 1st December 2019. The product, which has been available since December 2015, allowed potential first-time buyers aged 16 or over to save, with the income free from tax.

This was then topped up with a government bonus of up to £3,000. Nearly 260,000 properties have been bought using the Isa across the UK, Treasury figures show. The data also revealed that 339,747 bonuses have been paid through the scheme, with an average value of £943. The biggest proportion was in the North West of England. Whilst the scheme officially closed to new accounts, account holders can keep on saving until autumn 2029, with bonuses needing to be claimed by 1 December 2030.

The Equity Release Council

Membership of the Council has almost doubled in two years. Membership has increased from 219 to 431 firms since December 2017 – reflecting the increasing role of property wealth in later life financial planning with more firms signing up to the organisation’s best practice standards.

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

“The option of accessing property wealth increasingly registers on people’s radar when planning for later life. The Council’s growing membership means more people can access the highest level of consumer protection for any property-based loan when exploring whether equity release or alternative products can help to meet their needs”

Henry Knight, Managing Director of Springtide Capital commented:

‘Due to many factors including the UK population living longer, equity release products have become more in demand. They have also become more accessible and competitive within the market and schemes ensuring advisors adequately meet the needs of their customers is crucial.’

Sources:

https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/data-and-research/data/household-finance/household-lending-and-deposits

https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/bulletins/consumerpriceinflation/december2019

https://www.nationwide.co.uk/-/media/MainSite/documents/about/house-price-index/2019/Dec_Q4_2019.pdf

https://www.fca.org.uk/data/mortgage-lending-statistics

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-50598913?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/cpzp21mjmggt/mortgages&link_location=live-reporting-story

https://www.equityreleasecouncil.com/news/council-membership-almost-doubles-in-two-years/

 

A positive start to 2020

Post election bounce in the housing market signals a positive start to 2020

The housing market is responding positively to December’s election result, delivering much-needed stability for home-movers, new Rightmove data has revealed. *figures correct as of 19.02.20

Rightmove reports that there has been a 2.3% surge in the price of property being listed for sale. This is the largest monthly rise ever recorded at this time of year. The previous highest January rise was 2.2% recorded in January 2015. This is an encouraging sign for an active spring market ahead.

Commenting on this renewed level of optimism, property expert Miles Shipside at Rightmove said:

“These statistics seem to indicate that many buyers and sellers feel that the election result gives a window of stability. The housing market dislikes uncertainty, and the unsettled political outlook over the last three and a half years since the EU referendum caused some potential home-movers to hesitate. There now seems to be a release of this pent-up demand, which suggests we are in store for an active spring market.”

Immediately post the election in the period from 13th December to 9th January, enquiries to estate agents were up by 12% compared to the same period a year ago. This then led to a 7.1% increase in the number of sales agreed over the same period.

Post-election jump in buyer demand highest in London

Rightmove highlight initial signs of an uplift in buyer demand now the election is over with the biggest increase in London, according to new figures. *figures correct as of 19.02.20

In December demand across the UK from prospective buyers increased by 28% in the four days after the election (Friday 13 – Monday 16 December) compared to the same four days in 2018 (Friday 14 – Monday 17 December), with the biggest increase recorded in London, up 54% on the previous year.

Henry Knight, Managing Director of Springtide Capital said:

“These are encouraging signs for an active spring market in London. Figures suggest that the ‘wait-and-see’ buyers have been given a new confidence by the increased political certainty brought about the election and even though there will be further Brexit activity on the horizon, it is an encouraging start to 2020”.

Bristol is most popular place outside London for home hunters

Bristol has the accolade of the most searched for place outside of London for both buyers and renters in 2019, new Rightmove data has revealed.*figures correct as of 19.02.20

The average asking price of property in Bristol is £316,410, which is around £283,000 cheaper than in the capital, while homes for sale in Bristol spent an average of 50 days on the market before finding a buyer this year – selling quicker than anywhere else in the South West.

In London, the most searched for place for buyers was Wimbledon and for renters was Canary Wharf. In the capital, Hoxton in the London borough of Hackney has seen the biggest year-on-year increase in average asking prices, with average asking prices rising by 11.4% to £1,019,510 this year. Battersea in Wandsworth has seen the biggest increase in average asking rents, with prices rising by 14.1% over the past year to £2,544 per month.

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 circumstance.

Sources:

https://www.rightmove.co.uk/news/articles/property-news/post-election-bounce-as-optimism-returns/

https://www.rightmove.co.uk/news/articles/property-news/post-election-jump-in-buyer-demand-highest-in-london/

https://www.rightmove.co.uk/news/articles/dream-properties/bristol-is-most-popular-place-outside-london-for-home-hunters/