Mortgage Market Review
Industry news : 15 - 01 - 20
Brexit dominated the headlines in 2019, resulting in many homeowners staying put while they waited for political and economic uncertainty to subside. Only time will tell whether the Conservatives’ election win will bring greater stability, but in the meantime there remain plenty of reasons to be cheerful about the UK mortgage and property market at large.
Here, our recommended providers L&C Mortgages look back on what 2019 brought for first-time buyers, home movers, Buy to Let landlords and those who’ve remortgaged.
Brexit uncertainty failed to dampen the ambitions of first-time buyers in 2019, with more than 170,000 managing to get onto the property ladder in the first half of the year alone, according to a recent report by Halifax.
Mortgage choice used to be relatively limited for those with small deposits, but growing numbers of lenders now cater for buyers with only a 5% or 10% deposit to put down. The Government’s Help to Buy scheme has also helped those with smaller deposits and will continue to do so, with a revised version of the scheme due to come into effect in 2021.
Despite a wider range of mortgage options for first-time buyers, the Bank of Mum and Dad continues to play a big role, and reports suggest that the Bank of Gran and Grandad is increasingly involved in raising a deposit. Lenders have responded to this by developing mortgages which factor in family support, such as ‘joint borrower sole proprietor’ mortgages where a mortgage is held jointly with parents, but the title deeds are only in the child’s name.
Lenders were busy competing for remortgage business in 2019, particularly in the final quarter of the year, catering for the many homeowners who’ve chosen to free up extra cash from their homes so they can ‘improve rather than move’.
Ongoing uncertainty has seen many remortgage customers opt for medium term 5 year fixed rates, which are currently priced only marginally higher than two-year fixed rate deals.
Buy to Let
Buy to Let remortgage activity was also strong in 2019, with landlords seeking to cut their mortgage costs to offset the financial impact of mortgage interest relief gradually being phased out.
Tax relief on mortgage interest will be restricted to 20% for all landlords by April this year, which means remortgaging is expected to remain high on the agenda for many Buy to Let property owners.
A limited supply of properties helped keep prices relatively stable in many areas of the country. House price growth saw a slight bounce in Autumn, with Halifax predicting that this trend of modest gains will continue into 2020.
Although many sellers have had to wait a while for their properties to sell, those who managed to take the next step on the property ladder in 2019 have been helped by ultra-low interest rates and competitive mortgage deals which have improved affordability.
Looking forward to 2020
The Conservatives’ landslide victory at the end of the year could see rising transaction levels and more robust price growth in 2020, although of course there are no guarantees.
It’s not yet clear either what impact ongoing Brexit negotiations will have on interest rates and the mortgage market, but homebuyers and those looking to remortgage certainly shouldn’t hang around if they spot a deal they like, as ultra-low rates may not last forever.