In the last two weeks both Natwest and Coventry Building Society ceased offering interest only mortgages for residential property following on from Nationwide’s decision to do the same some time ago.
Add to this the vast number of lenders who have restricted interest only borrowing to less than 75%, 66% or even 50% of the property value and the market for these mortgages is now stricter than ever.
Borrowers on interest only mortgages currently sitting on their lenders variable rate should consider changing their mortgage to a new product now before the market contracts further.
With the FSA’s announcement that interest only lending would become part of their mortgage market review following the credit crunch many lenders have reacted in a kneejerk fashion eliminating the option for customers with a suitable repayment strategy to refinance their loan regardless of the plausibility of their circumstances.
This is already creating a large number of mortgage “refugees” unable simply due to lenders criteria to arrange a new mortgage and who then become trapped on a variable rate without the option to move.
Whilst this may not be the end of the world whilst the Bank of England Base Rate is low it could result in thousands more repossessions in the event of the collapse of the Euro.
This scenario would almost certainly see wholesale increases in lenders standard variable rates which many borrowers might find too large to handle.
For those in the last years of an interest only mortgage or perhaps even half way through with a borrowing of more than 50% of their properties value waiting too long to consider a move to a new product could see them shut out of the market in the long term.
Of course for those borrowers without a suitable strategy for repaying an interest only loan then this should be the right time to think about switching either to a full repayment mortgage or if investment’s such as endowments are not performing and predicted to fall short of requirements whether a part repayment and part interest only loan could be suitable.
For more information contact one of our whole of market advisors on 0845 4594490
This is probably the biggest mortgage related question on everyone’s lips at the moment and it is certainly very difficult to tell what is going to happen with interest rates. I can remember a conversation with a client almost 18 months ago where media coverage suggested interest rates were going to shoot up and they were worried the tracker product I had recommended might end up being very expensive.
In my opinion the question of whether to fix your interest rate comes in two parts. Firstly your attitude to risk should be taken into account and the severity of the risk assessed too. If you have ample income to afford higher interest rates then it comes down to your preference as to whether to gamble on variable type products, but if you simply couldn’t afford for your mortgage payments to go above current figures then not only should you be considering a fixed rate but also trying to reduce your borrowing levels asap.
The second part of the answer comes down to the difference between fixed rates and variable products, if the difference between a suitable variable product and a fixed is relatively low then even if you are a little risk averse it may be worth opting for a fixed rate. However when the difference is greater it becomes harder to say.
Let’s compare for example a 5 year deal currently on offer with one lender of 6.49% with a 25% deposit, compared to their 2 year fixed and 18month tracker product this is 3-4% higher and this means the chances of it being good value for money long term are much lower as it would require average interest rates over the next five years to be over 5% or so which is a big increase from current rates, hence I would only really recommend this scenario to someone who was really on the borderline of what they can afford and needed absolute long term security.
Many lenders are touting products with an option to switch to a fixed deal at a later date without early repayment charges, but for those who would be at serious risk of being unable to afford their mortgage if rates went up this is probably a poor option, as the reality is that fixed deals available at the time are likely to be higher than now as well.
It remains quite likely that while interest rates must increase at some point, that overall market competition will do too and to some extent increases in bank base rate are likely to be met with at least some reduction in lenders margins. Current two year fixed deals come with an average margin of about 3% over the bank base rate which would have been unthinkable three years ago, so at some point slowly but surely these differences must be eroded by competition as the market improves too.
The Bank of England announced yesterday that bank base rate will remain static at 0.5% for another month which is more good news for the housing market, prospective borrowers and mortgage brokers.
In conjunction with massive falls in the London Interbank Offered rate recently, and small falls in Swap rates the stage looks set for continued reduction in mortgage interest rates over the coming months.
HSBC’s and Lloyd’s Group announced large rate cuts in the lower loan to value range last week and over the past few days several lenders have announced small changes to rates and criteria higher up the loan to value range.
While there has been little change in higher loan to value rates in the 80% and upwards category there is a feeling among the mortgage advice community that things will now start to ease in this category too perhaps for remortgages in the first instance but potentially for new purchase as well.
Whilst it’s unlikely we will see any products at 95% for new purchase soon things definitely appear to be moving in the right direction which can only be good news for homeowners and the economy at large.
I wrote recently about the tough decision some people are having to take about whether to fix their mortgage now or wait on their standard variable rate rises and with today’s announcement that base rate will stay unchanged at 0.5% the decision hasn’t got any easier.
There is however a nifty product currently being offered by Nationwide Building Society (one of the few lenders still touting for new business) which allows you to take one of their current tracker products now and switch it to a fixed rate whenever you choose without incurring early repayment charges.
Other providers have similar offerings however there is a difference which sets them apart. The Nationwide will allow you to switch to a fixed rate based on the Loan to Value of the valuation taken when you arrange your tracker, which means that if value’s continue to fall you will not be locked out of new deals.
You will have to pay a second arrangement fee however and you will be restricted to the fixed rates available when you decide to change which could be higher than those available now but if you aren’t sure which way to turn at least this offers a get out clause which normal tracker products will not.