May 20, 2024
Mortgage

Mortgages – live: Price war to hit banks as NatWest boss says not difficult to get on property ladder


Jeremy Hunt sets March 6 as spring budget date

Mortgage brokers are gearing up for “price wars” among banks vying for competition, as major lenders introduced deals with interest rates of less than 4 per cent.

First Direct is launching two products at 3.99 per cent from Friday, while several of HSBC’s rates are now below 4 per cent for the first time since April, in what brokers have said “could be a sign of things to come”, after the number of first-time buyers with a mortgage hit a 10-year low in 2023.

Despite that grim statistic, NatWest’s chair Sir Howard Davies claimed he doesn’t “ think it is that difficult at the moment” to get on the property ladder.

“You have to save and that is the way it always used to be,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, adding: “I totally recognise that there are people who are finding it very difficult to start the process, they will have to save more.

“But that is, I think, inherent in the change in the financial system as a result of the mistakes that were made in the last global financial crisis.”

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‘Year of the squeezed middle’ as rising mortgages, food costs and taxes cost households thousands of pounds

The Liberal Democrats also pointed to the impact of frozen tax thresholds on the public, describing 2024 as the “year of the squeezed middle”.

Research by the party suggests that the combined impact of taxes, mortgage rises and food inflation could be a more than £4,700 “hit” on the average household.

The Lib Dems are calling for a cost-of-living rescue package, with the party’s Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney MP saying: “2024 is set to be the year of the squeezed middle, as families continue to be clobbered by unfair tax hikes, soaring mortgage payments and higher shopping bills.

“People are worried sick about paying the bills and having to make big cutbacks just to get by.

“But instead of helping, Rishi Sunak is hitting families with yet more tax rises while the Conservative Party soap opera continues in Westminster.”

Andy Gregory5 January 2024 10:38

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Average UK property price rose nearly £5,000 in 2023

The housing market “beat expectations” in 2023, a lending boss has claimed, with the average UK property value ending the year £4,800 higher than it had been at the end of 2022, according to an index.

Property values increased by 1.7 per cent on average across 2023, Halifax said. Average house prices rose by 1.1 per cent month-on-month in December, the third monthly rise in a row. The typical UK house price in December 2023 was £287,105, up from £282,305 in the same month a year earlier.

Kim Kinnaird, director of Halifax Mortgages, said: “In December, the cost of an average UK home rose for the third month in a row to £287,105, up 1.1 per cent or £3,066, compared to November, reaching the highest level since March 2023.

“The housing market beat expectations in 2023 and grew by 1.7 per cent on an annual basis. The average property price is now £4,800 higher than it was in December 2022.

Andy Gregory5 January 2024 10:26

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‘Price war is on the cards,’ mortgage broker predicts

Lewis Shaw, of Mansfield-based Shaw Financial Services, forecasts that lenders will relaunch mortgage product ranges and reduce rates in the next week or two.

“A price war is on the cards because most lenders missed their lending targets last year and are not going to want a repeat of that, so the likelihood is they’re all going to come out of the gates storming,” he said.

He predicted significant competition, especially around remortgaging, because the 1.6 million mortgages that are due to renew in the next 12 months represent a big chunk of the market.

“So either lenders will become very competitive on their internal rates for existing customers to keep them or they’re going to have to offer better remortgage rates to tempt them away from other lenders, so that will hopefully be positive,” Mr Shaw added.

Andy Gregory5 January 2024 10:13

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10,000 homes went on sale on Boxing Day, Rightmove says

A record number of sellers put their homes up for sale on Rightmove on Boxing Day, the website reported.

Just over 10,000 homes went on to the market the day after Christmas Day, a record for any Boxing Day and the highest number of new sellers in any single day of the year dating back to 2011, Rightmove said.

The number of buyers contacting estate agents about properties for sale also jumped, and was 17 per cent higher than on Boxing Day in 2022.

Andy Gregory5 January 2024 10:10

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HSBC cuts rates below 4%

HSBC UK has cut rates on its residential mortgage range by up to one percentage point, with several of its rates being below 4 per cent for the first time since last April.

More than 240 separate rates across HSBC UK’s residential and buy-to-let range have been reduced.

An HSBC UK spokesperson said: “Our latest changes mean that we are able to offer our existing customers five-year and 10-year fixed-term mortgages that are below 4% for the first time since April 2023, alongside our lowest rate of 3.89 per cent for existing customers.

“We now also have over 150 mortgage options under 5 per cent for customers, the most we have offered under this level since April 2023.”

TSB also announced cuts to some of its two-year-term mortgage rates from Friday, including reductions of up to 0.55 percentage points for first-time buyer deals and home-mover products.

Andy Gregory5 January 2024 09:49

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Not ‘that difficult’ to get on property ladder, NatWest boss claims

It is not “that difficult” to get on the property ladder in the UK, the chair of NatWest has said.

Asked by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme when it would be easier for people in the UK to get on the property ladder, Sir Howard Davies, chair of NatWest, said: “I don’t think it is that difficult at the moment.”

Pressed about this, he added: “You have to save and that is the way it always used to be.”

Sir Howard added: “What we saw in the financial crisis was the risk of having people being able to borrow 100 per cent in order to get onto the property ladder, and then suffering severe falls in the equity value of their houses, and having to leave and having a bad credit record. So, there were dangers in very easy access to mortgage credit.

“So, I totally recognise that there are people who are finding it very difficult to start the process, they will have to save more, but that is, I think, inherent in the change in the financial system as a result of the mistakes that were made in the last global financial crisis.”

Andy Gregory5 January 2024 09:47

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First Direct re-introduces sub-4% mortgage rates

First Direct has announced rate cuts across its fixed-rate repayment mortgage range, with deals below 4 per cent set to be available from Friday.

The offers include a 10-year fixed mortgage for people with a 40 per cent deposit, with a rate of 3.99 per cent, down from 4.97 per cent previously, with its five-year fixed deals also down by 0.65 per cent, in rates available to new and existing customers.

Among its two and three-year fixed rates, First Direct said fixed standard mortgages for people with at least a 15 per cent deposit will be priced at under 5 per cent, with the range beginning at 4.54 per cent for new customers and 4.49 per cent for switchers.

For people with a 10 per cent deposit, deals will start at 4.69 per cent on First Direct’s five-year fixed standard mortgage.

Andy Gregory5 January 2024 09:46

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Homeowners set to benefit from mortgage price wars, experts say

Mortgage experts are forecasting a lending price war, benefiting home-buyers as lenders compete to undercut each other.

Financial gurus predicted a raft of lenders would reduce their home-loan rates in the coming week or two, warning borrowers to grab good deals when they could.

At the same time, in a sign of the property market heating up, a record number of sellers put their homes up for sale on Rightmove on Boxing Day, the website reported.

Andy Gregory5 January 2024 09:41

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Good morning, and thanks for joining us on our mortgages live blog, where we’ll be providing live updates on the latest developments and analysis.

Andy Gregory5 January 2024 09:40



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