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Best fixed mortgage deals average 6%

[ Posted June 30th, 2009 ]

The average five-year fixed rate mortgage deal has hit 6%.

In June the average five-year fix was 0.43% more expensive and the average two-year fixed rate deal increased by 0.41% to 5.08%.

About 65 residential mortgage products have dropped from the market, leaving 1,242 on the shelves.

Borrowers looking for a 90% loan-to-value – or 10% deposit down – deals have gone up 21% during June, with Britannia, Cambridge, Earl Shilton, Leek United and Saffron building societies all entering the niche market.

“Anyone looking for a new fixed rate deal needs to act fast as lenders continue to fall over each other to increase rates," Louis Kaszczak, of independent finance reviewers Moneyfacts.

“No one seems to want to offer the lowest fixed rate deal. The only positive news is for those with a small deposit, where competition is slowly returning to the market.”

Kaszczak added not many borrowers would likely take up an average five-year fix standing at 6.79% for those with a 10% deposit.

House prices dropped across a number of regions in May, according to the Land Registry.

The Halifax and Nationwide Building Society released figures suggesting the average cost of housing rose during the month, the Land Registry data came to a different conclusion.

According to the Land Registry, the average property in England and Wales dropped in value by 0.2% between April and May.

The region with the most significant annual price fall of 17.2% was the north-east, while Manchester  experienced the greatest annual drop in value with a movement of 23.8%.

Another housing market survey by Hometrack shows prices stood still in June as the number of new buyers increased.

Rising sales volumes, a dwindling supply of housing for sale and a continuing increase in demand have all contributed to the standstill.

The survey shows the number of new buyers registering with estate agents rose by 4.6% in June, the fifth monthly increase in a row.

New buyer registrations have grown by 36% since the start of the year in stark contrast to the same period last year when agents registered an 18% drop in the number of buyers on their books.

Sales have also risen by more than 80% since the start of the year, albeit from a low base.

One of the best sources of fixed rate mortgage deals is a mortgage comparison site like ours.

Itch to switch mortgages may not be worthwhile

[ Posted June 26th, 2009 ]

Homeowners locked in to long term fixed rate deals are often asking our advisers whether to dump their current mortgage or stay put with the lender.

The answer is it depends.

First, latest figures show remortgages are down 58% year-on-year and that lenders are not keen to approve mortgages for homeowners because no one is yet quite sure whether house prices have actually stopped falling or not.

Next, if you want to dump a high fixed rate – some people are paying 6.5% – 7% for five-year fixes taken out a year or so ago, then you need to consider any early redemption fees.

Typically, these could be £2,500 – £3,000 on top of the money borrowed.

Then, you want to make sure the rate your can fix at now gives you a saving taking in to account the costs of getting out of the other deal.

Lastly, take a conservative view of your property value. The best fixed rate remortgages are at 75% loan-to-value or lower, which means if you have a £100,000 remortgage and have to pay up to £5,000 to remortgage, your house price has to be £140,000 or more.

According to property price research by Fitch Ratings, some areas of the country are locked out of remortgaging at any cost – for instance the East Midlands from Northampton to Derby and Nottingham and across to Lincoln and Leicester.

Other places where remortgaging may be difficult include Manchester and the North West.

Another factor any prospective remortgage applicant has to take in to account is that lenders are rejecting 16% of all proposals, even from borrowers with good credit records.

If you have anything less than a perfect credit record, applying is probably not worth the while.

If you feel all your ducks line up and that you can get a remortgage deal approved, then there’s no time like the present as mortgage rates are as low as they are ever likely to be and waiting is going to see rates rise and close the differential between any savings you may make in the long term.

Finding a mortgage is relatively straightforward – clinching the deal is something else.

To find the current best rate mortgage deals, just search a mortgage comparison site like ours.

You can search all the best remortgage rates in seconds.

You should carefully work out your sums including all the relevant fees and charges for ending your current mortgage and taking on a new one.

The headline interest rates may look attractive, but once you include lender fees, a valuation and any other charges, the chance of making anything other than a moderate saving are not very likely.

At the end of the day, you might just have to bite the bullet and swallow the cost rather than turning in to a mortgage rate tart and trying to switch deals or lenders.

The only other option is perhaps discussing the situation with your lender and asking if they will switch you off the fixed rate, which is unlikely.

Banks approve more home loans

[ Posted June 23rd, 2009 ]

Mortgage approvals in May hit a 13-month high in May with 31,162 loans approved for buying a property, 7% more than in April, the British Bankers’ Association said.

The figure was also 16% higher than May 2008; the first time the annual measure has shown an increase since November 2006.

Banks and building societies are also pushing up mortgage rates, despite Bank of England interest rates remaining steady at 0.5% for several months.

The Bank of England also says mortgage lenders are still turning down more applications – with 16% of applications refused last month, up 33% from 12% in December 2008.

The message from lenders is clear. If borrowers have a big cash deposit and impeccable credit record, then a mortgage to buy a home is available.

Best fixed rate deals are offered to those putting down the biggest cash deposits.

The ongoing weakness in the remortgage market dragged down the overall lending figures, with total advances of £7.7 billion the lowest since February 2001.

This is sending another clear message to borrowers – lenders don’t think house prices have stopped falling and unless borrowers who want to remortgage have a large slice of equity in their property, the mortgage market is closed to them.

According to research by Fitch Ratings, the worst places for negative equity, where homeowners are trapped with being unable to remortgage are Northampton, Nottingham, Derby, Peterborough, and Lincoln that take five of the top 12 places – including the first four – in a league table of the top 100 cities and towns in negative equity.

This negative equity effectively wipes out any chance of a remortgage in the East Midlands, as Leicester also features in the top 12 as well.

Net lending, which strips out redemptions and repayments, also fell for the third month in a row to £2.3 billion, a level last seen in early 2001, when the average mortgage taken out for house purchase was just £74,400, compared with £133,600 in May.

The number of loans arranged by people remortgaging fell further during May to a near-nine-and-a-half-year low of just 24,847, 60% below levels seen 12 months ago.

But despite falling for the fifth consecutive month, the BBA said loans for remortgaging and those for other purposes, such as equity release or buy-to-let, appeared to be stabilising at their current low level.

BBA statistics director David Dooks said: "Steady monthly increases since last November have seen the number of loans approved for house purchase recover to levels seen in early 2008, although gross and net mortgage lending show a subdued wider mortgage picture.

"However, unlike much of the mortgage market, the high street banks are still seeing lending growth and improved mortgage availability is reflected in higher average loan approval values."

Many lenders are still heavily advertising mortgages at low headline rates, but it’s worth checking out your options on a mortgage comparison site like ours.

Lenders reject 1 in 5 mortgage applications

[ Posted June 19th, 2009 ]

Mortgage lenders are turning away more than 16,000 borrowers – about one in five of the total number of application – every month despite media advertising offering low interest rate fixed rate mortgage deals, new figures from the Bank of England show.

In a bid to reverse the ’spin’ from lenders who are repeatedly telling us detailing how much they are lending, the Bank of England has released mortgage application data for the first time.

The figures show that since December, the number of people wanting to borrow but had an application refused has soared by 33% from 12,000 a month to more than 16,000 in March.

The figures show that with more applications rejected, and the Council of Mortgage Lenders revealing gross mortgage lending was £10.3 billion – down 2% in April on the month before and 58% down year-on-year, banks and building societies are cherry picking borrowers who they feel present little or no risk.

The rest have nowhere else to go.

In March, the CML says lenders agreed 71,000 mortgages – with 30,000 for buying a home.

Adding the 16,000 rejected applicants, 87,000 mortgage applications were made in March and between 18% – 19% were turned down – or just under one in five applications.

The CML says it is likely an improvement in new lending has been overshadowed by a slump in remortgaging due to stricter criteria and more attractive variable rates.

CML economist Paul Samter said: ‘While recent signs from the housing market have been more encouraging, we do not anticipate a significant recovery in activity in the coming months.

‘Lending volumes appear to have stabilised at extremely low levels, but the weak labour market and lenders’ limited access to funding will constrain activity for some time yet.’

Of course, if the standard variable rates were so attractive, less borrowers would be applying for remortgages and the statistics would reflect this.

In fact, they show the opposite – that the remortgage market is virtually closed because more than a million homes are in negative equity and hundreds of thousands more are set to slip in to being worth less than their mortgages.

The UK mortgage market seems to have completed a U turn from a state when lenders were looking for reasons not to give away mortgages with little or no consideration of affordability to a new regime where the flood has been cut to a dribble and lenders need strong reasons to grant a mortgage.

If you are looking for a mortgage, then consider a mortgage comparison site like ours to find the best interest rates and loan options.

Lots of advice for buying homes at auction

[ Posted June 16th, 2009 ]

With the huge rise in repossessed properties, banks and building societies have loads of properties on their books to try and get rid off at bargain prices.

Arranging the finance is the same as for any other house purchase, except for the timescales involved in buying are often much quicker, so you should look for the best rate mortgage deal and have the finance lined up well in advance of your bid.

With the Council of Mortgage Lenders predicting 75,000 repossessions for the years, that means lenders are sending properties to estate agents and auctions at a rate of more than 1400 a week.

The best properties tend to go to estate agents to try and get a higher price while the less desirable properties go to auction.

For home buyers with no experience of buying at auction, here’s some tips to bear in mind:

1) Do your research before the auction sale day – visit the property and if necessary have a surveyor or trusted builder take a good look as well so you are not facing any financial surprises if you put in the winning bid

2) Sort out your finances as well – you will need a 10% cash deposit if your bid is successful and then you need to pay the balance within 28 days. If you need a mortgage, you need to have the loan pre-approved subject to survey.

3) Your solicitor needs to be primed as well to complete the purchase within the 28 day time limit

4) Try and visit an auction before the one where you want to buy or take someone who understands the procedure with you. You need to keep a business head on and not let the emotion of the occasion carry you away

5) Remember your budget. Don’t go above your budget or the the figure you have in your mind as the amount the property is worth to you.

6) Don’t worry about other bidders – let them look after their own business and you concentrate on yours.

Finding a mortgage is the same as going through the process of buying any other property. You need to find the best interest rate and best deal that suits you.

Don’t forget that just because the auction house requires a 10% deposit does not mean that the bank or building society won’t require a larger cash deposit.

To source a mortgage to buy whether you are a first time buyer, investor or home mover, try out a mortgage comparison web site like ours.

Buying at auction has pros and cons – you may well pick the property up at well below market value but the risk is you have to pay out for surveys and legal work with a good chance that you might well be outbid at auction.

Buyers zoom in on fixed rate mortgages

[ Posted June 12th, 2009 ]

Mortgage borrowers were looking for a quick fix in April – with 69% of them taking out a fixed rate mortgage.

The average fixed rate mortgage was pegged at 4.83%.

According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), this is the highest percentage of borrowers opting for a fixed rate mortgage since June 2008.

More good news for borrowers was the number and value of house purchase loans increased by 16% from March to 35,600 loans worth £4.5 billion in April, even though this is still down on the year before.

Year-on-year the value of loans is down 40% and the number of loans down 28%.

Homeowners seeking to remortgage are faring the worst – in April the number and value of loans fell 22% and 25% respectively to 31,000 loans completed at a total value of £3.6 billion in April. Year-on-year this was a fall of 65% and 69%.

Many borrowers looking to remortgage should take advice about the value of their home before applying.

The Bank of England has released a report based on Financial Services Authority statistics, stating that 1.1 million homeowners are in negative equity, along with 200,000 buy-to-let properties.

About 11% of homeowners in the UK have properties worth less than their mortgages.

This locks many people in to paying higher mortgage rates because they have to stick with their lender’s  standard variable rate instead of opting for a special deal.

Higher mortgage payments comes from falling house prices reducing homeowners’ equity – the difference between the house value and the mortgage.

Because banks are mostly lending their best interest rate deals at 85% equity or less and house prices have dropped by more than 15% in a year, unless you had a mortgage of about 66% of your home value before the price crash, there really is little point in searching for a remortgage because the property is worth more or less the same as your borrowings.

Bob Pannell, head of research at the CML, says: “With the interest rate cycle now at its floor, an increasing proportion of borrowers are taking out fixed rates, including for longer term periods of 5-10 years.

"With expectations for rates to remain low in the near future, shorter term fixed-rate deals are less appealing than attractively priced variable rate deals."

If you are a homeowner or a buyer looking for the best fixed rate mortgage, then consider a mortgage comparison site like ours.

The site searches the latest mortgage deals that suit your needs by asking a few simple questions and lists them for you to pick the best for you.

Room for improvement in the loan market

[ Posted June 9th, 2009 ]

Plenty of homeowners see some room for improvement in their living space and are queuing up for loans, according to a new survey.

AA Personal Loans says that 25% of homeowners in the UK are going through the borrowing process for work during the recession and the company’s loan business has showed no downturn in applications despite current economic difficulties many people are facing.

Roughly an 12.5% of all loans go towards building a new room on to a home to create extra living space.

Mark Burgess, editor of Estate Agency Times, said: "Understandably, some people might not be keen to take out a personal loan at the moment, but additional bedrooms or reception rooms typically add the most value to a property."

The survey is supported by a Sainsbury’s Home Insurance study that revealed many homeowners are cutting improvement cost by turning their hand to DIY to renovate property.

Most home improvement loans range from £1,000 to £25,000 and cost roughly double the cost of a mortgage.

To find a cheap home improvement loan, consider looking at a comparison site like ours, where you can see a range of different loan options in seconds.

Many lenders – including most high street banks and building societies plus some specialist firms – offer home improvement loans. Like the name suggests, they generally come with a condition that the borrowing must be spent on your property and not on a holiday or other debts.

To make sure you get the best interest rate, make sure you compare like-with-like. For instance, the shorter the period you borrow the money over, the more expensive the loan,l so make sure your quotes are all over the same period or you may think one loan is more expensive or cheaper than another witghout realising the ‘term’ of the loan is different.

You should also consider a robust loan protection insurance to cover sickness, accident and redundancy. Again, an insurance comparison site like ours can find the best rate insurance to meet your needs.

Don’t simply buy the insurance offered by your lender – in many cases this is more expensive that other policies and often excludes much of the cover offered by other providers.

An alternative to a home improvement loan that may prove a cheaper option is a remortgage or further advance on your existing mortgage, so look up the cost comparisons against home improvement loans before making a final decision.

Adding living space to your home should prove an excellent long-term investment, because the more space you have, the higher the price when selling. Just watch out not to ‘over extend’ that can make your property too expensive for the area where it is located.

Loan modification – Required documents and how to avoid scams

[ Posted June 8th, 2009 ]

It is always better to go for mortgage loan modification if you are not able to make your monthly home loan payments. Loan modification (mortgage loan modification) can help you to stay current on your loan by revising the terms and conditions of your existing mortgage.

Documents required for mortgage modification

 
You need to submit certain documents to your lender so that he can evaluate your financial condition. The required documents are listed below.
 
  • Your pay stubs for the last 2 months
  • Your complete bank statements for the last 2 months.
  • A handwritten letter explaining your financial hardship.
  • Copy of the deed of trust of your mortgage loan.
  • Federal and state tax returns for the past 2 months.
 
How to avoid loan modification scams
 
You can take professional help if you think that a paid service can give you better results on your mortgage loan modification program. However, you should know how to avoid loan modification scams. Here are some suggestions, by following which, you’ll be able to avoid such scams.
 
  • You should always work with counselors, who are approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Try to avoid services that claim to give guaranteed results.
  • Make a clear idea regarding how much money you can save on your loan modification program.
  • Do not pay any upfront fee; a counselor should offer free preliminary consultation before you enroll yourself in a modification program.   
  • Before you go for any professional loan modification program, make sure that you check their references with your friends or colleagues.
 
One of the most important advantages of loan modification is that you’ll be able to reduce the interest rates on your mortgage, which in turn will help you to lower your monthly home loan payments.
 
Keyphrase: loan modification
 
Description: Loan modification can help you to stay current on your mortgage. Check out the documents you require and know how to avoid loan modification scams.
 
 
 

Homing in on the real state of property prices

[ Posted June 5th, 2009 ]

Keeping up with the property market is taking some doing this month as several market ‘trackers’ announced their latest findings.

The Halifax has reported home prices increased by 2.6% in May, pushing the price of the average UK home up by more than £4,000 to £158,565.

The jump helped to reduce the annual rate of decline in prices to 13.6%, from 17.8% in April.

This is only the third time prices have gone up in the past 21 months, according to the Halifax.

Nationwide data, based on the building society’s mortgage loans, showed that prices rose by 1.2 % in May, the second monthly rise since March.

Property intelligence group Hometrack said house prices remained unchanged in May, the first time in 20 months their data has not recorded price falls

The Land Registry says the price of the average home in England and Wales dropped 0.3% to £152,898, the smallest monthly drop in nearly a year.

However, property values were still 16.2% below April 2008, just below February’s record decline of 16.4%.

Land Registry figures are based on actual home sales, although they exclude the sales of new-build homes and properties worth less than £40,000.

Nitesh Patel, housing economist at Halifax, said: “Historically, house prices have not moved in the same direction month after month, even during a pronounced downturn.”

But she added there were signs the market was stabilising, with Bank of England figures showing that the number of mortgages approved for homebuyers rose to a one-year high of 43,201 in April — though this was still 22% fewer than in April last year.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said that house prices could be propped up by a shortfall in supply as sellers, reluctant to accept a lower price, delay putting their homes on the market.

All but the most cash-rich first-time buyers have been squeezed out of the market as lenders demand hefty deposits before allowing them to qualify for the most competitive deals.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders said that the average first-time buyer is now paying a deposit of 25%, meaning that the price rise in May added £731 to the bill for a down payment for prospective buyers.

Interpreting the state of the market is difficult  – but the reports appear to show that price falls are slowing, more borrowers are looking to buy and lenders are agreeing more mortgages – but activity is nowhere near top of the market levels of a year or two ago.

Finding mortgages is still tough if borrowers don’t have at least a 25% cash deposit for buying or an equal amount of equity for remortgaging.

If you are looking for the best rate mortgage or best rate remortgage, your best bet is still to consider a mortgage comparison site.

Rates and products are coming on and off the market quickly and searching out the best deals is easier on the web rather than spending hours tramping the high streets.

More homebuyers sign up for new mortgages

[ Posted June 2nd, 2009 ]

The number of homebuyers, including first time buyers,  signing up for new mortgages was up again in April – for the third month in a row.

Mortgage approvals reached 43,201 loans, the highest number in a year, according to the Bank of England.

New mortgage lending was up £973 million during the month, from £640 million in March, but still below the recent six-month average of £1.1 billion.

Remortgages still hard to find

Total mortgage advances, that include remortgages, fell to just £10.89 billion, the lowest since December 2000, reflecting existing homeowners are sticking with standard variable rates rather than new deals because they either can’t meet tighter lending criteria or because they have insufficient equity to take out a new loan at a lower rate.

The number of approved remortgages dropped to 31,800, down from a recent average of 41,054.

Some mortgage pundits are interpreting the 8% increase in mortgage approvals for new homebuyers as evidence that the slump in the housing market has bottomed out.

House price slide is slowing

The Land Registry has shown the rate at which house prices are falling is slowing, with the average home in England and Wales having 0.3% wiped off its value during April, the smallest drop for more than a year.

Nationwide Building Society says prices went up 1.2% in May, the second increase in three months, while property intelligence firm Hometrack said they remained unchanged during the month.

The difference in figures arises from each organisation measuring home prices with different methods and taking results from different geographical areas.

What does this mean for borrowers?

Mortgages are still thin on the ground for first time buyers who cannot meet stringent qualifying conditions and don’t have a substantial deposit – on average at least 26% of the price of the property they want to buy.

On face value, plenty of mortgages for first time buyers and remortgages are on the market, but lenders are not relaxing their grip on the purse strings just yet.

Look on a mortgage comparison site for the best interest rates, but the fall in house prices has left little room for manoeuvre for borrowers whose loans are near the value of their home

Has the housing market bottomed out?

There is no evidence prices have stopped falling, just that they are not falling so fast. Year-on-year house prices have fallen 15.7% , according to the Nationwide.

The National Estate Agents Association is also reporting that their members are reporting increased sales – but then they have a vested interest and don’t point out that many estate agents have closed in the past 12 months, so presumably the sales would increase in the offices left.

 
 
 
 
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