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Mortgage market gets competitive - RJA Properties: Lettings Agent Manchester
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20 May 2010

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Home information packs (Hips) will be consigned to history, the Government has announced.
17 Mar 2010

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Estate agents should be subject to the same levels of regulation as letting agents, it has been been stated.
22 Jan 2010

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Thousands of Britons with holiday and retirement homes in northern Cyprus face eviction after the Court of Appeal upheld a decision that a British couple must surrender disputed land.

Mortgage market gets competitive


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Three major lenders reduce their rates but you’ll need a 40% deposit for hsbc’s best buy 1.99% deal


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Competition began to creep back into the mortgage market yesterday with three major lenders reducing their rates.

Barclays’ lending arm the Woolwich, HSBC and Cheltenham & Gloucester, part of Lloyds Banking Group, all announced they were either trimming their rates or launching new products.

HSBC launched a new discount deal with a starting rate of 1.99%, taking it to the top of the best-buy tables.

But the mortgage is only available to people with at least a 40% deposit – and it also comes with a £1,199 arrangement fee.

The reductions have been triggered by recent steep falls in wholesale funding costs.

The key inter-bank lending rate, three-month sterling Libor, upon which variable rate deals are based, has reduced to 0.68%, putting it back into its pre-credit crunch range of between 0.15% and 0.2% above the Bank of England base rate.

Swap rates, upon which fixed-rate deals are based, have also dropped steeply.

Big rises in swap rates triggered a round of repricing during late June and July, as lenders raised the cost of their fixed-rate deals.

Five-year swaps have fallen by around 0.4% to 3.36%, while two-year swaps are now below 2% at 1.97%.

But the margins charged on fixed-rate mortgage deals remain high, with the average two-year fixed rate now at 5.18%, while five-year deals cost around 6.22%.

The Woolwich yesterday reduced its two-year, fixed-rate mortgage for people with a 30% deposit who pay a £999 fee by 0.2% to 4.09%, and launched a new deal at 4.19% with a lower fee of £499.

Cheltenham & Gloucester reduced the cost of two and three-year fixed-rate mortgages by between 0.1% and 0.2%, leaving a two-year deal at a 60% loan to value ratio at 4.19%. It also introduced a new fee-free range.

HSBC also launched a new three-year fixed rate mortgage at 4.19% for borrowers with a 40% deposit who pay a £999 fee, although it has increased the cost of its five-year deal for people with only 10% to put down.

Ray Boulger, of John Charcol, mortgage advisers, said: “The cuts aren’t as big as reductions in swap rates, but it is bringing rates a bit more in line with them.”

Meanwhile, it emerged that the number of homes for sale increased for the first time in four months during August, despite the housing market suffering its traditional seasonal slowdown.

The average estate agent had 64 properties on their books during the month, up from 59 in July and the first rise since April, according to the National Association of Estate Agents.

It attributed the increase to people who had previously registered as buyers finding properties they were interested in and putting their own home on the market.

The increase is good news as the association had earlier warned that any recovery in the property market could be held back by a shortage of homes for sale.

But economists attributed recent price increases to a shortage of stock, and have warned that if properties flood on to the market, prices could begin falling again.

Despite the increase in properties being put up for sale, other areas of the housing market suffered from the traditional seasonal slowdown, with the number of househunters registered with estate agents dropping to 238 on average – down from 292 in July.

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