All posts by Holley Samuel

UK House Prices – Scotland Outperforms UK Average

According to the latest Halifax House Price Index, annual house price inflation went up to 7.4% in September – this is up from 7.2% with the average UK property price now at a record £267,587. Scotland has continued to outperform the rest of the UK.

House prices in the UK rose by 1.7% in September – this is the strongest rise since February 2007 pushing up inflation to 7.4%, reversing the three-month downward trend in annual growth peaking at 9.6% in May of this year. The average price of a house in the UK is now as expensive as it’s ever been at around £267,500.

There are several reasons for this continued upturn in house prices and the sustained buoyant property market – not just the Stamp Duty (LBTT) holiday (which ended three months later in England than in Scotland), but also the change in buyer priorities and a trend for more internal and external space. Over the past year, the price of flats is up by 6.1% compared to houses rising by 8.9% for semi-detached and 8.8% for detached. Looking at this in asking prices – this means flats have gone up on average by £6.640 and houses by £41,000.

With reports of increasing household bills, potentially rising taxes and NI, as well as fuel bills looking set to go up substantially, there could be lower levels of buyer activity in the coming months. However, borrowing costs are still very low and the job market looks strong which may offset this.

The main factor in rising house prices is the limited supply of available properties, especially in terms of the number of houses for sale, and so this could underpin average prices well into 2022.

Scotland

With an annual growth of 11.5% in September, Wales has recorded the strongest house price inflation of any UK region or nation. This is followed by Scotland which also outperforms the UK national average, with growth of 8.3% and an average house price of £188,525.

Looking to buy?

Talk to our team at The Mortgage Hub if you are looking to take advantage of the current low borrowing rates. We can help you to find and secure the right mortgage for your circumstances.

Green Mortgages

Climate change and the issues surrounding our homes is big news at present especially with the protests currently taking place each day in London to highlight the issue of insulating our homes – along with reports of an impeding fuel crisis. In the past, taking an interest in the future of our planet was seen as something carried out by a minority. However, concerns over the future of our planet are now considered one of the most serious issues facing Britain today.

Green mortgages are still something that many consumers don’t appear to be aware of. A YouGov poll carried out in June of this year revealed that environmental problems ranked as one of the country’s top-three concerns, along with health, the economy, immigration, and crime. In fact, 30% of people questioned believe that environmental issues are one of the three biggest problems facing the UK. For those aged 18 to 24 this rises to 40%.

As we are being made aware at present with the current protests to highlight climate change, residential properties are one of the UK’s biggest generators of pollution and millions of properties are lacking a ‘green’ provision with older inefficient boilers, poor insulation and old windows that don’t contain the heat generated.  According to figures published by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, residential homes account for 30% of Britain’s energy use and 19% of greenhouse gas emissions. Although there are many old properties, all houses can improve their energy performance by simple changes including energy-efficient light bulbs, turning off unused appliances and having intelligent schedules for heating and hot water usage.

In response, green mortgages have been launched by several lenders including Barclays, Nationwide and NatWest, but they are still lacking in popularity.

A green mortgage means that a bank or lender will offer preferential terms such as a lower interest rate if you can demonstrate that the property you are seeking lending for meets certain environmental standards. This could be a new build home with a sustainability rating, or where the borrower will invest in renovating an existing building to improve its energy performance. This offers an incentive to homeowners to buy a green building or bring it up to scratch to make it greener – offering a lower interest rate or an increased loan amount.

Talk to us at The Mortgage Hub to find out more about the availability or eligibility of a green mortgage.

What’s Happening in the Buy-to-Let Sector?

There has been a recent rise in buy-to-let remortgaging with this sector increasing every year from 2009 to 2019, representing a decade of growth.

Figures from UK Finance show that in 2008 there were 114,740 remortgages but in 2009 cases fell sharply to 32,850. Since then, the buy-to-let market has increased and in 2019 remortgaging peaked at 187,900 loans. When the pandemic started, we saw a fall in lending across all markets, with buy-to-let remortgaging numbers falling to 163,300 in 2020. However, in the first quarter of this year we saw a rise in numbers compared to the last quarter of 2020, as 39,700 loans were issued.

Equity release

There has also been a rise in property investors remortgaging to release equity from a property either to grow their investment portfolio or to carry out improvements to maximise the rental income and property value. House prices are rising meaning that Loan to Value rates are lower, providing an opportunity for equity release.

Since all rental properties have required an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of at least E, but the government has its sights on all homes being rated C or above by 2030. This has resulted in landlords wanting to carry out home improvements such as new windows, heating systems or improved insulation. Many lenders are now offering green mortgages as an incentive for this.

The Scottish buy-to-let market

According to the latest Nationwide House Price Index, Scotland has recently been shown to have the UK’s best rental yields in the UK with an average yield of 5.8%. In addition, according to a survey by the National Residential Landlords Association, over two thirds of landlords surveyed were confident about the market in the coming year.

Last year, according to Zoopla, five out of the top ten hot spots where landlords could find the best rental returns were in Scotland – with Glasgow and Stirling providing typical yields of 7.6% and 7.5% respectively.

If you are considering taking out a buy-to-let mortgage or would like to discuss remortgaging, talk to us at The Mortgage Hub. We can find the right deal for your individual circumstances and needs.

Fastest Moving Housing Market for Five Years

According to the latest figures from Zoopla, the lack of supply and increasing demand for homes has resulted in the fastest-moving property market in five years.

The latest Zoopla House Price Index released on June 30 shows that house prices have risen by more than £10,000 over the last 12 months as buyers have re-evaluated their living situation.

This increase is the biggest jump in value since October 2016 and as a result over 1.8m properties have been pushed into a higher stamp duty bracket. Due to this unprecedented demand, the average time it takes to sell a home has halved to just 22 days compared to 42 days in May 2019.

In Scotland, house prices have risen by 3% in Glasgow and 2.9% in Edinburgh. The average annual house price growth was 4.7% in May, this is over double the rise of 2.2% in May last year. House prices are rising the fastest in affordable markets.

In terms of buyer demand, this is currently 55% higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Demand for property – especially family homes – has been driven by a combination of factors. First, the pandemic resulted in a once-in-a-generation re-evaluation of buyer priorities with a quest for more internal and external space. Second, the stamp duty holiday gave the property market a huge boost. Third, we have seen greater availability of high LTV mortgages for all buyers with the introduction of the Mortgage Guarantee Scheme.

In addition, first-time buyers have flocked to the housing market and as they are purchasing a home without having one to sell, they are not replenishing stock levels.

The supply of homes for sale is not keeping pace with demand and as a result, buyers are experiencing high levels of competition for available homes.

In order to get ahead of the game, make sure everything is in order, including a mortgage agreement in principle. As a whole of market broker we will guide you through the full buying process to ensure our clients are in a position to start viewing properties to buy.

For those thinking of selling, now is the ideal time to sell – but it’s worth remembering that at present, it could take longer to find a home due to the current shortage of listings. Again, we would recommend taking advice from ourselves on the process of selling and buying so we can guide you on the best way to do this.

Talk to us at The Mortgage Hub if you are considering your next move and would like advice on securing the right mortgage for your circumstances.

House Prices Surge in Scotland

Here in Scotland, we have seen house prices surge to record highs – with the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showing that the average house price rose by nearly 11% in the year to March 2021.

According to the ONS, house prices in Scotland increased by 10.6% over the year to March 2021, compared with a rise of 10.2 % in England, 11% in Wales and 6% in Northern Ireland. What’s more, the latest figures from the Nationwide House Price Index show that house price growth reached its highest level for seven years in May at 10.6% and month-on-month prices grew by 1.8%, down slightly from 2.3% in April.

This time last year, property market activity collapsed in the wake of the first lockdown with housing transactions tumbling to a record low of 42,000 in April 2020. However, activity surged in the last quarter of last year and into 2021, hitting a record high of 183,000 in March. Although the stamp duty holiday gave the market momentum, this continued as interest rates remained low and the government announced the Mortgage Guarantee Scheme.

Why is this happening?

Pent up demand caused by the lockdown, a re-evaluation of housing needs, the stamp duty holiday, low interest rates and the reintroduction of high LTV mortgages have resulted in the number of transactions from January to March being nearly half on the start of last year.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that the average price of detached properties in the UK is rising faster than flats as buyers seek more internal space to accommodate an increase in home working, along with high demand for outside space following a year of lockdowns and only being able to socialise with friends and family in our gardens.

Buyers who have continued to earn have also been saving money given that they have been unable to take overseas holidays, make large life changing purchases, or spend money socialising.

Fast-moving market

Many homes across Scotland are getting snapped up within days – sometimes hours – of hitting the market, as competition is rife. The supply can’t meet the current demand, and this is pushing up prices. This fast-moving property market can cause issues for buyers – especially first time buyers – as they are being priced out of the market. In addition, those who have sold quickly are struggling to buy.

According to research from Nationwide, of those moving or considering a move, 33% were looking to move to a different area, while nearly 30% were doing so for more outside space. The majority of movers were looking to make the move to more rural areas especially among the older generation. What’s more, 36% said they were more likely to consider enhancing their home as a result of Covid-19, with nearly half 46% of these looking to add or maximise space.

First time buyers

Demand for property from first time buyers is extremely high and the inevitable upward pressure on prices is making it particularly hard for first-time buyers to get onto the property ladder. Prices are accelerating faster than they can save for a deposit and they are struggling to meet the affordability criteria.

The stamp duty holiday and re-introduction of 95% loan-to-value mortgages have played a huge part in the increase in buyer numbers – with the repeated introduction of restrictions resulting in buyers looking for more space to accommodate the continuing home working requirement. First time buyers who have had difficulty with their credit rating are also struggling as lenders continue to be cautious however, there are options available for credit impaired buyers. However, many people are in the position where they are stuck paying rents that are substantially higher than mortgage payments.

If you are looking to remortgage, move up the ladder or buy your first home, talk to us at The Mortgage Hub to find out how we can help you to secure the best mortgage for your circumstances.

The Rising Availability of 95% Mortgages

According to the latest figures from Moneyfacts, the 95% mortgage market tripled in the last month. At the start of May there were 112 mortgage deals requiring just a 5% deposit whereas at the start of April there were just 34.

Last month we saw the introduction of the Mortgage Guarantee Scheme – the aim of the scheme was to encourage banks to reintroduce high LTV mortgage products after they were largely withdrawn from the market as a result of the pandemic. The scheme enables buyers to purchase a property up to the value of £600,000 with just a 5% deposit and is available to all buyers not just those purchasing their first home. However, buyers using the scheme do need a very good credit rating and many of the 95% mortgages are not available to new-build buyers.

Although there are currently 112 banks offering 95% mortgages, only 40 are using the Mortgage Guarantee Scheme indicating that confidence in returning to low deposit lending has vastly increased and that the scheme was seen as a sign of confidence in the property market, while some lenders decided to launch low LTV products independently from the scheme. In addition to the 95% mortgages, there were also 41 new products launched for 90% mortgages bringing the current total to over 480 compared to just 100 this time last year. Comparing the number of available mortgage products, it is currently around three quarters of pre-pandemic levels. For those with a 20% deposit, there has been an 18% increase in products available compared to the same time last year.

Across all types of mortgages, interest rates are still historically low and borrowers with big deposits can fix for five years at 1.27%. The Bank of England has shown that net mortgage borrowing in March reached the highest level ever recorded. Moneyfacts has reported that the number of residential mortgages increased for the seventh consecutive month in May, while the average two-year fixed rate dropped very slightly to 2.57 per cent while the average five-year fixed rate increased very slightly to 2.79 per cent.

Finally, more good news – deals are on the market for longer with the average shelf-life of a mortgage deal increasing by three days to 32 in April giving buyers longer to secure the right home and mortgage product.

Talk to us at The Mortgage Hub if you would like to find out more about securing a high LTV mortgage. We can scour the whole of the market to find deals that you may not have access to from high street lenders, and can advise you on the best deal for your individual circumstances.

The Mortgage Guarantee Scheme for First Time Buyers

In his Budget last month, Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed that the 95% mortgage scheme would boost the market and bring back the low-deposit mortgages that were largely withdrawn as a result of the pandemic. Most lenders were offering a maximum 90% loan to value mortgage. This made it difficult for many buyers to get onto the property ladder as they were unable to save a sufficient deposit. In addition, the market was largely closed during the first lockdown and by the time it reopened, a pent-up demand and a re-evaluation of buyer’s requirements resulted in a buoyant market and rising house prices. This further priced first time buyers out of the market.

The new government-backed low-deposit mortgage guarantee scheme is now available to lenders meaning that more options are available to first time buyers with a small deposit. What’s more, the scheme is open to all buyers, not just first time buyers and is available for all properties costing up to £600,000 and is not limited to newly built homes. According to figures from Rightmove, this accounts for 86% of all homes currently for sale.

The aim was “a policy that gives people who can’t afford a big deposit the chance to buy their own home.”

Until now, first time buyers have been unable to find a 95% LTV mortgage deal although one or two lenders would release products for a few days or weeks at a time and they would be restricted to certain postcodes.

Following the budget announcement, Rightmove reported that the use of their mortgage calculator jumped by 85% within half an hour of the announcement and traffic to the site jumped by 16%.

Mortgages under the scheme will be available until 31 December 2022. The affordability checks will remain the same with most mortgage lenders offering loans of up to 4.5 times the buyer’s salary.

If you are considering taking advantage of this new scheme, talk to us at The Mortgage Hub. We can advise you as to whether this is the best option for you and the costs involved.

Are You Paying Over the Odds for Insurance?

A large number of homeowners could be paying over the odds for their home insurance according to the latest research.

A third of homeowners have taken out insurance from their mortgage lender for ‘ease’ at the time of their house purchase rather than searching for the best deal, according to Compare the Market. When surveyed, 29% of respondents said that they felt it was the easiest option and 10% felt pressured into taking out the insurance policy in order to secure the mortgage. What’s more, 14% felt that they were required to use a specific insurance company by the lender and 15% of homeowners took out the insurance policy offered rather than trying to find a better deal.

Many mortgage companies cross-sell other products when you find a mortgage directly from a lender rather than using a mortgage broker, who could help you to find a cheaper and/or more suitable deal. Buying a home is a stressful event with many things to sort out including utilities, broadband, TV, removals etc. so many homeowners want to make the process of insurance as quick and simple as possible.

Buildings insurance covers the building itself should the home suffer damage, for example by flood or fire. Contents insurance helps cover the cost and damage of personal possessions and items such as TVs, laptops and furniture.

Although mortgage lenders offer these insurance policies, you should not feel obligated to take this out along with your mortgage. It’s essential that you find the deal that best suits your circumstances even if it means spending a bit more time to find the right policy. It’s worth remembering that some lenders have targets they have to meet and under no circumstances will you penalised for not taking out their policy. In fact, TSB and Nationwide have stated that they do not put their customers under any pressure to take out their home insurance policy and do not impose any financial penalty for arranging insurance elsewhere.

Many of the home insurance policies offered by lenders are also available via brokers, so it could be that your lender does offer the best policy. But by using a broker you’ll have peace of mind knowing that it’s the best and most affordable policy for you and your family in comparison to others that are available.

Talk to us at The Mortgage Hub – we can find the best insurance policy for your circumstances by searching the whole of the market.

Applying for a 95% Mortgage? What You Need to Consider

It was announced in the spring budget earlier this month that the government will be introducing a new 95% mortgage guarantee scheme from April 2021, which will run until December 2022. The scheme has been introduced in response to a large-scale withdrawal of low LTV mortgages following the pandemic, pricing many first time buyers out of the market. As the Prime Minister put it, the new scheme will help ‘generation rent become generation buy’.

The new scheme means that some of the UK’s major lenders will be able to offer low-deposit mortgages on all residential properties valued up to £600,0000. The announcement was welcome news for many people, including those wanting to move up the property ladder or remortgage their existing home as the scheme is open to all. You don’t even technically need to be a first-time buyer to apply.

However, it’s important to understand that obtaining a 95% mortgage isn’t an easy or simple process, as you will still need to be prepared and meet the lender’s criteria especially in terms of affordability. In fact, affordability tests have not been relaxed as part of the scheme, which will catch out some buyers without prior experience of mortgage applications.

Here’s what to consider if you are thinking of applying:

Credit history

A good credit score is essential when looking to secure a good mortgage deal. If you’re a first time buyer applying for a low-deposit mortgage you will need a good credit score for your application to be accepted. It’s important to keep up with your credit card, utility bill, mobile phone, loan and other payments to show lenders that you are able to repay your debts. You should also be on the electoral register. It’s important you aren’t financially tied to someone with a bad credit score as this can negatively impact you.

Affordability

Even though the mortgage guarantee scheme means you only need a small deposit, you’ll still have to prove that you can afford the monthly repayments. Mortgage lenders have to adhere to restrictions whereby no more than 15% cent of their new business can be through offering mortgages that are over 4.5 times over the applicants’ annual income. This means that lenders won’t typically lend to higher LTI (loan to income) applicants for those with a 5% deposit. This is something to be aware of when applying, especially if you’re buying alone.

COVID19

Have you been impacted by the pandemic? Lenders will be cautious about lending to people who have been financially adversely affected by the pandemic. If you have been furloughed, taken a mortgage holiday, or have had your days or hours reduced, you could find it more difficult to secure lending. You will need to provide bank statements, P60 and proof of deposit or income to accompany your application.

Get the right advice

It’s essential that you talk to a whole of market mortgage broker if you would like to apply for the new mortgage guarantee scheme. At The Mortgage Hub, we can talk you through the application process and find out if you are eligible for a mortgage without it impacting your credit score. We can also find the best mortgage for your circumstances and work out what your repayments will be.

The Spring Budget – New Mortgage Scheme Open to All Buyers

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has now announced the much-anticipated Spring Budget after a challenging year across the globe. He announced a raft of changes including several that will affect the property market and home buyers at all stages. The first change is a government-backed mortgage scheme and the second is an extension to the stamp duty holiday in England and Northern Ireland, which has since been adopted by the Welsh government.

Stamp duty

The temporary stamp duty holiday has been extended until the end of July with a tapered period running until September. In July last year the threshold at which Scottish house buyers start to pay LBTT was increased from £145,000 to £250,000, affecting around 80% of home buyers whereby they would not pay anything.

The policy announced was in response to the stamp duty holiday in England and Northern Ireland whereby no tax would be paid on properties up to the value of £500,000. It was also adopted by the Welsh government.

However, as of today, buyers in the middle of a property purchase will lose out after the decision not to extend it beyond the end of the March. Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, has said that the temporary reduction to LBTT will end as planned at the end of this month. We hope that pressure from the property industry will push for a change to this proposal.

Mortgage Guarantee Scheme

The spring budget also included an announcement about a 95% LTV mortgage guarantee scheme to enable those with small deposits to purchase a home. This scheme is open to all buyers regardless of whether they have owned a property before. The scheme is due to launch in April and will enable buyers to purchase a home priced up to £600,000 with a 5% deposit.

Since the pandemic many lenders have withdrawn low deposit mortgages as they waited out the economic effects of the last 12 months. As a result, many first-time buyers who had raised deposits before the pandemic found that they were unable to proceed with their home buying plans – even though there was some relief by way of the stamp duty holiday to boost their deposits. They were still faced with raising deposits of 15-20% in order to secure a mortgage.

The scheme is being backed by many of the high street lenders including Lloyds, Santander, Barclays and HSBC.

Asking prices have been on an upward trajectory since the property market opened at the end of June 2020. The national asking price for a first-time buyer property is currently 3.6% higher than in February 2020 and since the Help to Buy mortgage scheme was introduced in 2013, national asking prices have increased by 36%. Our advice is to move quickly before prices rise again following yesterday’s news.

Get advice

Talk to us if you would like to discuss this scheme and to find out more about the mortgage options open to you.