The news can seem to make depressing reading at the moment, with it numerous reports of the cost-of-living crisis, among other issues. Equally, there have been some indications of potential signs of cooling in the housing market, while interest rates are creeping steadily upwards in a bid to curb inflation.
Indeed, only last week we saw the fifth consecutive hike, as the Bank of England raised interest rates to 1.25%, the sharpest increase since 1994. There are also strong indications of continued rises in the future.
However, at Oakfield Estate Agents, we’re genuinely convinced that the current climate doesn’t have to be unrelenting doom and gloom. Indeed, it was actively good news for those looking to sell and who (understandably) want to get the best price for their property in one announcement last week from Halifax, one of the UK’s largest mortgage lenders. Its latest index showed that house prices across the UK rose by 10.5% in May compared with the same month in 2021.
What’s more, the lender reports that this is the eleventh monthly rise in a row. It saw prices increase by 1% under this metric last month. This means that the price of the average home in the UK now stands at £289,099.
Additionally, if you’re a buy-to-let (BTL) buyer, or looking to become one, that side of the marketplace is very active and buoyant just now. And a number of mutual lenders (i.e. those owned by their members) have launched a host of highly attractive initiatives as they continue to deliver a range of innovative solutions to meet landlords’ constantly changing needs.
The Nottingham Building Society, for example, has introduced a series of changes to its lending criteria. These include lower interest cover ratio (ICR) figures – i.e. the rental income divided by mortgage interest – and reduced calculation rates for standard BTL and limited company mortgage applications. Furthermore, the Nottingham has removed its minimum income requirement.
This lender has also raised the maximum loan-to-value (LTV or the size of the mortgage compared with the value of the property) for lending on flats to 75% (from 65%) and removed all Covid-related criteria. Finally, it’s withdrawn the requirement to see last month’s personal and business bank statements as standard.
Another lender has changed its policy on offering larger loans to those who are self-employed, shifting from 75% to 85% mortgages. Yet another has announced they will be providing a seven-year fixed-rate deal. This represents a huge opportunity, since although rates have increased, they remain low compared with previous interest rates.
What Oakfield says
From our own point of view, here at Oakfield we’ve been able to help clients who have previously experienced credit problems, or who are buying properties which don’t fit the standard construction model. We’ve been able to get them mortgages through some of the specialist lenders on our panel, which are typically more flexible than the main High Street lenders.
So while it’s easy to feel concerned by all the current negative press surrounding mortgages, the reality genuinely isn’t as bad as you might think. Lenders are still keen to lend; indeed it seems that some are actively altering their criteria to adapt to a changing environment and to suit people’s shifting needs, so that they can continue lending.
In summary, the sales market is still very buoyant, so now could be the ideal time for you to make your next move. Alternatively, if you’re feeling happy to stay put, now could also be a good time to review your current mortgage to make the most of the lower rates to secure a fixed deal. With the cost of living rising steeply, it would give peace of mind to know your mortgage is fixed for a certain number of years.
Whatever you want to do, we’re here to help. Get in touch with a member of our helpful, professional team today.