News & Insight

Our expert views and commentary on what’s happening in the world of mortgages and sometimes beyond, along with our regular summary of what the papers say.

What the papers say – 17th and 18th October 2015

Figures from the Office of National Statistics have revealed an increase in the average price of a first home to £215,000 in the last year, and the Times reported this weekend that the number of buyers dependent on a cash gift to raise the deposit is up by 25% as a result. The Bank of Mum and Dad is as important as ever, but for those who don’t want to hand over their savings there are alternative options, including guarantor mortgages, and famil...

What the papers say – 26th and 27th September 2015

Focus has turned towards older borrowers over recent weeks, with critics suggesting that not enough housing is being built for this sector of the market, leaving homeowners unable to downsize and free up larger homes for families. Experts in the Telegraph claimed that less than 2% of housing built in Britain last year was for older people, and urged developers to Sticking with older borrowers, the Times looked at ways for grandparents to hel...

What the papers say – 15th and 16th August 2015

With an interest rate increase on the horizon, it seems that borrowers are beginning to act. The Independent reported this weekend on recent figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders, which reveal a 30% increase in remortgage activity in June.The Financial Times suggested that February 2016 is currently the most popular prediction for the first increase to happen. While rates have begun to edge up in anticipation, lenders are still keen for bu...

What the new tax rules mean for landlords

As announced in the Budget, mortgage interest rate relief is going to be limited to the basic 20% income tax rate: higher and top rate tax payers no longer get full relief.The government has now published the detail of how the change will be phased in here which says in 2017 to 2018 the deduction from property income (as is currently allowed) will be restricted to 75% of finance costs, with the remaining 25% being available as a basic rate ta...

George Osborne And The Three Bears

Here’s a mildly frivolous look at what the new inheritance tax rules will mean.+++Momma Bear and Poppa Bear live in a 1-bed cottage in the middle of the forest. They have one child, Baby Bear, who stands to inherit their entire estate which along with the cottage also includes a substantial investment on the porridge futures market, and the family business: a home security firm the Bears set up following a break-in some years ago.Under current IH...

What the papers say – 9th and 10th May 2015

As expected, post-election predictions provided a focus for this weekend’s financial press, as industry experts looked towards the next 5 years. The Sunday Telegraph reported on pledges made by the Conservatives during their campaign, including doubling the number of First Time Buyers over the next parliamentary term by extending the Help to Buy scheme, and building 200,000 discounted starter homes.The Sunday Express claimed that a majority vote ...

What the papers say – 25th to 26th April 2015

One year on from the Financial Conduct Authority’s Mortgage Market Review (MMR), and the weekend’s financial press was keen to look at the impact on borrowers. The Financial Times, Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Express all reported a decline in mortgage lending and in particular a drop in First Time Buyer numbers. Experts pointed out that separating the effects of stricter criteria and general market changes can be difficult, but agreed that some g...

What the papers say – 11th and 12th April 2015

There was a degree of scepticism in this weekend’s Financial Times over the predicted ‘Buy-to-Let Bonanza’ that could follow the recent pension reforms. Research suggests that only the top 7% could afford an outright purchase of an average property costing £180,000, and concerns over taxation are likely to prevent a rush to invest in property.While some older borrowers might be considering entering the Buy-to-Let market, the Telegraph revealed th...

What the papers say – 4th and 5th April 2015

Figures in this weekend’s Financial Times revealed that the average 2 year fixed rate has dropped to an all time low of 2.98%, due in part to a fall in inter-bank lending rates as well as the continuing intense competition between lenders for the top spot. This is good news for borrowers, with the Mail on Sunday reporting that this drop in average rates has reached right up to include higher loan-to-value mortgages as well. First-Time Buyers can ...

What the papers say – 28th – 29th March 2015

With inflation hitting zero for the first time, the Times looked this weekend at the potential impact on the cost of home loans. There has been suggestion that, should inflation become deflation, there is a chance of a further base rate cut, but brokers suggested that fixed rates themselves are unlikely to drop any further in the current climate. Borrowers were warned not to be complacent, and to review their mortgage options as soon as they are ...

Why do we pay Stamp Duty?

Stamp Duty Land Tax is a controversial issue for some. Originally introduced as a historic tax in 1694, it is something that is unavoidable if you are buying a house.You must pay this tax by the official moving-in date (or possession date) of your new home.The stamp duty that we recognize today was first introduced in 2003, and has just undergone the biggest change since it was introduced. How does stamp duty work? If involved in the purchase p...

Who is responsible for a mortgage after death?

Dealing with the death of a loved one is difficult enough, and trying to get your head around the financial side of things (like their mortgage) can make things even more complicated.I’ve published this post to help you understand how the mortgage may be handled following the death of a partner or spouse.Even so, it’s important to note that there are lots of other things to consider and every situation is different.If you’re not yet at a stage wh...

What the papers say – 17th to 18th January 2015

The financial press took a look at different aspects of the Buy-to-Let market this weekend. The Times reported on recent research which revealed that around 16% of those who will be cashing in their retirement pots following April’s ‘pension freedom’ reforms plan to invest in Buy-to-Let property. While this may be a way to generate income into retirement, experts warned that potential investors need to understand the implications regarding income...

Can you get a mortgage on a temporary work contract?

The good news is that being on a temporary work contract won’t necessarily stop you getting a mortgage, providing you have at least 12 months’ history in that current line of work and have not had any breaks in employment. What’s the issue with ‘temp’ contracts and mortgages? Most lenders don’t like short term contracts because they suggest the applicant’s income isn’t guaranteed for any significant period of time.If you’re on a temporary contr...

What the papers say – 6th and 7th December 2014

The Chancellor’s recent announcement regarding changes to the stamp duty system featured heavily in this weekend’s financial press, although opinion on the potential benefits remained divided. The reforms will see stamp duty charged in a similar way to income tax, with different percentage rates charged to each portion of the price. The changes were generally welcomed, but critics in the Financial Times claimed that a major overhaul is still need...

All Change – the new Stamp Duty regime

Stamp Duty Land Tax, to give it it’s official title, has been seen as a perennial problem for homebuyers, and the housing industry has long lobbied for it to be overhauled.Now, finally, it’s happened.The old “slab” structure applied a stamp duty rate to the full property value which had the benefit of simplicity but created severe increases around the thresholds, the classic example being: Property valued £250,000 – stamp duty 1% = £2,500 P...

What the papers say – 29th and 30th November 2014

With average student debt now standing at around £44,000, graduates are finding it even tougher to get their foot on the property ladder. The Times looked this weekend at the different options available to First Time Buyers, including taking a mortgage jointly with a parent, or taking a specialist deal which allows parents to offset their savings against the mortgage - allowing them to help their child whilst retaining access to their savings.The...

Is it harder to get a mortgage if you are self-employed?

The simple answer is no, provided that you have your accounts up to date.Whilst the perception amongst borrowers might be that getting a mortgage if you are self employed is trickier, the truth is that as long as you have proof of income in the forms of signed accounts or tax returns then it should not be any harder than someone who is employed. What will I need to provide As standard most lenders will ask for 3 years accounts, whether you are ...

What can you expect to be asked at a mortgage meeting?

Applying for a mortgage can be a somewhat daunting and stressful experience. The following article will give you some idea of what to expect and explain how a good broker can help with the process. Why have things changed recently? The credit crunch has made lenders approach mortgages with much more caution than they did previously. This means they look at your income and expenditure in more depth than before, and especially whether you could a...

Adding partners or spouses onto an existing mortgage

If you and your partner have been living together, there may come a point where you want to put your partners name onto the mortgage alongside yours.If your partner is helping to pay off the mortgage or contributing to the bills, and especially where children are involved, it can be a sensible move to get them added to the property deeds and the mortgage. However, it’s not just a case of changing the names on the mortgage with your lender. You wi...

Divorce and Mortgages

If you are going through a divorce one of the most important steps is sorting out the finances. It is often the case that one of the main parts of the settlement is who will get to keep the house.So how is that decision reached? What happens with the remaining mortgage payments? And once it has been determined by all parties involved and that reconciliation is irretrievable, what happens to the mortgage? Who is liable for the mortgage? If you ...

What the papers say – 4th and 5th October 2014

The difficulties experienced by borrowers since the introduction of tougher lending rules earlier this year continues to be highlighted by the financial press. The Telegraph revealed that, while some lenders have eased their criteria regarding self employed applicants, borrowers are still being rejected due to lack of records. Brokers pointed out that businesses are often set up to be tax efficient but this can make it harder to prove income.The ...

What the papers say – Week commencing 27th September

Potential changes are afoot in the Buy-to-Let market, which could see the ‘accidental landlord’ phenomenon become a thing of the past. The Times revealed this weekend that a new EU directive, due to be implemented in March 2016, could mean that lenders must make a distinction between deliberate investors and ‘consumer’ landlords – with the latter becoming a regulated part of the market. Critics argued that this would prove to be a complicated and...

What the papers say – 29th and 30th March 2014

Changes to pension rules were the main focus of this weekend’s financial press, following the recent Budget announcement that people will be allowed to withdraw lump sums from their pension pot to invest as they wish. Experts in the Financial Times and Sunday Times warned that those who plan to use the money to invest in property should think carefully about the tax implications as well as the net rental income that will be generated after loan a...

Benefit changes

Various changes to the benefit system come into force this month, once again highlighting the danger of over reliance on the State as the safety net to provide for you and your family should you be unable to do so yourself. The first change to be rolled out from April 1 is a reduction in housing benefit for every spare room in a property. It is estimated that a typical reduction for this will be £14 a week (£728 a year). This is expected to affec...

Life Insurance with Added Extras

Life insurance is regularly purchased on the basis of which insurer can offer the cheapest rate for the cover required; after all, there is only one circumstance when the policy will pay out, which is the death of the policy holder.  However, there are some extra features that can add real value to a life policy which it would be sensible to consider at the point of purchase. Flexibility Flexibility is a key component of any policy. Most people w...

Act now to beat G-Day price hikes

Many of us will have already heard about the Gender Directive in the press (or seen it on our website!) but how many of us have really sat up and taken notice. This European Directive will see the use of gender as a factor in setting insurance premiums prohibited.  This will take effect from 21st December and will affect all types of insurance including life insurance.  From that point on insurers will have to price male and female policies at th...

Just 3 months to go before gender neutral pricing of insurance comes into force.

The EU Gender Directive will come into force on the 21st December 2012 (G day), which along with a raft of other tax and legislative changes, will lead to increases in the price of some protection insurance.  The Directive will make it illegal for insurers to charge different insurance premiums on the basis of gender, which means that women, who at present typically benefit from lower life insurance premiums than men, should be prepared for a ri...

What the papers say – 15th and 16th September 2012

Continuing on from last week’s news of Government intentions to relax planning laws, the Telegraph and Sunday Times both reported on the reality of trying to raise the extra finance via the mortgage. Tighter lending criteria and lower property valuations could push a borrower into a higher loan-to-value bracket – which in turn could increase the rate, but could also make it difficult to raise any money at all. If a borrower already has a flexible...

Latest statistics confirm over 90% of critical illness insurance claims are paid

Latest critical illness claims statistics from the major life insurers have revealed that the vast majority of claims are successfully being paid. This is contrary to the often held negative view of critical Illness policies, as it is often the “bad news” cases which are declined that are reported in the press.Critical illness policies provide a tax free cash payment to the policy holder upon diagnosis of specified serious illnesses, providing fi...

Homeowners choose improving over moving

A recent survey by Nationwide BS has shown that just under half of homeowners are planning to make home improvements compared to only 8% that are planning to move.  The majority of those planning to make improvements had an update of their decor in mind to modernise the home but almost 1 in 10 cited increasing living space as the reason.These figures are unlikely to come as a surprise to homeowners that have considered moving recently.  The marke...

What the papers say – 9th – 10th June 2012

The Independent and the Sunday Times both reported this weekend on a recent survey from Lloyds TSB regarding the difficulties experienced by Second Time Buyers. It revealed that 1 in 6 are turning to the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ in order to get financial help to make that move up the property ladder, despite many having already received help the first time round. High loan-to-value mortgages taken out in the last 5 years mean that there is little or...

What the papers say – 17th – 18th March 2012

The Government NewBuy scheme was the talk of the financial press this weekend, and reaction was definitely mixed. Under NewBuy, the taxpayer and housebuilders provide security for new build properties worth up to £500k, which acts as an indemnity for the mortgage lender in case of future repossession. Borrowers require a deposit of as little as 5%, and experts suggested that rates are reasonably competitive in comparison with standard deals. It w...

You’ve never had it so good

That is, it’s never been such a good time to buy life insurance. Rates have fallen in recent years as advancements in medical science have helped people live longer. However, the falling trend in rates could be about to end as two factors are likely to impact on the cost of this all-important cover.Firstly, the use of gender in determining prices for life insurance policies will not be permitted from 21st December 2012 following a ruling from the...

What the papers say – 28th and 29th January 2012

The Financial Times reported this weekend on the wide variety of mortgage news over recent weeks. Homeowners can now secure cheaper fixed rate deals than a year ago with some lenders, while others such as Nationwide have increased both tracker and fixed rates. The Times, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Times and Sunday Express all carried news of the availability of sub-4% 10 year fixed rate deals, and brokers agreed that it was a good way to safeguard ...

First Time Buyers – beware end of stamp duty holiday

First time buyers should move quickly in the New Year as the Government's stamp duty exemption comes to an end in March.When buying a new home, you need to pay stamp duty (or Stamp Duty Land Tax to give it its full name) as a percentage of the value of the property you’re buying.  There’s no stamp duty on properties worth £125,000 or less, but over that it’s charged at 1% and then 3% over £250,000.In March 2010, the Government announced a stamp d...

A virgin chained to a rock

Richard Branson has a name for securing a very good price for himself and on the face of it, he’s got another good deal with Virgin Money’s acquisition of Northern Rock which was announced today.  Virgin Money is paying under £750m and leaving the taxpayer on the hook for a possible loss of £650m since taking the Rock into public ownership. Hopefully the potential additional payments (up to a possible £280m) will be realised to minimise the hit t...

What the papers say 12-13th November 2011

What the papers say- 12th and 13th November 2011 The Financial Times and Sunday Times reports that 2 lenders have increased their SVR (standard variable rates) without the Bank of England base rate changing and discuss the possibility of other less well capitalised banks following suit. The Sunday Telegraph and The Times attention is drawn to the ongoing problems of the eurozone, which is increasing the cost of lenders’ funding and making UK mor...

No movement from the MPC, but plenty elsewhere

The Bank of England announced no change to either base rate or the asset purchase scheme at their November meeting, to nobody’s surprise.Having just announced an unexpectedly large round of quantitative easing last month (which will take four months to carry out ), it’s unlikely we’ll see any further move before February 2012 – which, coincidently, will coincide with a quarterly Inflation Report. They do like to align changes with reports because...

What the papers say- 26th and 27th March 2011

The Government’s new FirstBuy scheme came under fire in this weekend’s financial press, with experts in the Times, Guardian, and Telegraph calling it a gamble at a time when property prices are predicted to fall. Certainly the advice was for potential borrowers to go into schemes like these with their eyes open and fully understand the terms and conditions. The majority of First Time Buyers will in fact still need a sizeable deposit or parental a...

Have mortgage holders really “never had it so good”?

Lord Young’s assertion that Britons have “never had it so good” as during this “so-called” recession, has landed in him hot water today – costing him his position as enterprise adviser to David Cameron.Speaking to a journalist from the Daily Telegraph, Lord Young said, “"For the vast majority of people in the country today, they have never had it so good ever since this recession – this so-called recession – started, because anybody, most people ...

Borrowers – your mortgage could help you combat the Government’s spending cuts

Ahead of the Government’s spending review later this month, the Chancellor George Osborne has announced plans to withdraw child benefit from higher-rate taxpayers from 2013 – a move that will affect an estimated 1.2 million households.Currently available to everyone, the child tax benefit gives parents £20.30 a week for their first child, and £13.40 a week for any other children.  For a family with two children, that equates to a benefit of £146 ...

What the papers say- 3rd and 4th July 2010

It was time to dust off the crystal ball this weekend, as talk once again turned to future interest rates. Opinions varied as to the extent of any potential changes in rates and house prices, with some experts predicting a double dip over the next couple of years due in part to a lack of available mortgage credit. Others agreed that the market is certainly set to cool down but had a more positive outlook, suggesting that low interest rates will c...

What the papers say - 26th and 27th June 2010

This weekend’s financial press saw the inevitable fall-out from last week’s austerity budget, with experts in the Times warning of the impact that cuts in public spending could have on house prices, particularly in areas of the North which are more dependent on the State for employment. There was positive news for homeowners however, as economists in the Sunday Times predicted a delay in any rise in base rate as a result of the budget. Experts in...

Uncertainty remains over inflation and interest rates

For people keeping a keen eye out for indications of how long interest rates might stay unchanged, there has been plenty to digest over the last week.The minutes from the Monetary Policy Committee’s (MPC) June meeting were published on Thursday and they revealed that, for first the first time since August 2008, one member, Andrew Sentence, voted for a rate rise of 0.25%.In general, the committee felt that factors such as spare capacity in the eco...

SVRs on the up again

SVR hikes have been back in the news again this month.  Lloyds TSB (including Cheltenham & Gloucester), whose Standard Variable Rate is currently 2.5%, has, from the 1st June, introduced a new, more expensive variable rate for new borrowers.  The new “homeowner variable rate” is now 3.99% and will be paid by all new mortgage customers once their fixed or tracker deal ends.The reason that Lloyds has created a new rate is that it has in place a...

Happy Birthday to Offset!

Woolwich recently pointed out that it launched the first offset mortgage in the UK ten years ago.  Time flies and offset mortgages have become an established part of the mortgage market with most lenders now offering some sort of offset option.They weren’t the first flexible mortgages as the Virgin One account had already styled the all-in-one current account mortgage.  The offset mortgage overtook in the popularity stakes largely due to the stru...

“Tough but fair” budget aims to balance Britain’s books

In his first budget, the Chancellor, George Osborne, today unveiled a wide range of spending cuts and tax rises aimed at fixing Britain’s deficit within the next five years.The main headlines in what the Chancellor called a “progressive” and “unavoidable” budget include a rise in VAT from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent from 4th January 2011 – a measure that is projected to raise over £13billion a year of extra revenues – and substantial changes to ...

What the papers say - 12th and 13th June 2010

This weekend’s financial press carried a warning to homeowners to prepare for a double dip in house prices this year due to a lack of mortgage funding, an expected rise in Capital Gains Tax (CGT) and looming interest rate increases. The Times and Independent on Sunday predicted further mortgage rationing as lenders are forced to repay their Government support loans, and urged borrowers to consider remortgaging now while rates remain low. On a pos...

What the papers say- 14th April 2010

The Daily Mail reported today that the cost of buying a home has increased by £70,000 since Labour came into power in 1997. Gradual increases in Stamp Duty tax and house prices have both contributed and, although interest rates have dropped to a similar level as ’97, an increase in mortgage size means that the average buyer will pay £99,000 in interest as opposed to £36,700 13 years ago.  Despite the increased cost involved in buying, The Daily ...

What the papers say- 12th and 13th December 2009

This weekend’s financial press was largely taken up with coverage of last week’s Pre-Budget Report, and the Sunday Times, amongst others, took a general look at the impact of the proposed changes on high earners, public sector workers, pensioners and homebuyers. As expected, the Chancellor confirmed that he will not be extending the stamp duty holiday, so from January 1st it will return to its previous level of £125,000, and as the Sunday Telegra...

Northern Rock get green light from European Commission

As expected, the European Commission has approved plans to split Northern Rock in two, the first step to repaying the tax payer and a return to private ownership.The move should not affect borrowers or savers in the bank but will see significant changes in the lenders makeup.The split is expected to be completed this year, and will see the lender replaced with what is being termed a “good bank” (Northern Rock plc) and a “bad bank” (Northern Rock ...

What the papers say- 30th September 2009

The Daily Express and Daily Mirror both reported today on HSBC’s pledge to lend an extra £500 million to buyers needing a 90% mortgage. This bid to boost lending follows Bank of England figures revealing that mortgage approvals fell in August for the first time in 10 months. New research shows however that the average UK property has increased by £10,000 in the last 6 months, leading property experts to suggest that confidence is gradually return...

BSA report calls for Northern Rock to be remutalised.

A new report published for the Building Societies Association has put the case for returning Northern Rock to a mutual status, once the home for all building societies. The report suggests three key economic reasons why a stronger mutual sector would be beneficial to the financial system. Bio-diversity – A stronger mutual sector would help to counterbalance the now plc dominated financial system, while helping spread the wealth and welfare from...

What the papers say- 8th – 9th September 2009

The Daily Mail today reported on the widening gap between mortgage rates offered to new and existing customers, particularly in regards to borrowers with a deposit of 15% or less. Recent research has shown that the average 2 year fix for a 90% LTV mortgage is now at 6.27% for new customers, but for customers staying with their lender the average is just 4.98%. Experts recommended that a borrower’s first port of call should be their existing lende...

Why we are paying more for our mortgages.

With bank rate remaining unchanged since March and the cost to lenders of funding mortgages so low, you would be forgiven for wondering why mortgages are becoming more expensive. In the face of mounting criticism for increasing mortgage rates, the lenders position has been laid out in the latest “News & Views” from the Council of Mortgage Lenders and it makes interesting reading. Lenders are less able to vary the rate they charge existing c...

What the papers say - 15th July 2009

There was further coverage of the Nationwide 125% deal in the midweek financial press, with experts in the Daily Express commenting on the positive aspect of the scheme, designed to help those who genuinely need to move home but cannot cover their negative equity. This deal has generally not been viewed as a return to irresponsible lending, but instead as a proactive move by lenders to help those with no alternative. The Daily Mail looked at othe...

What the papers say- 8th July 2009

The Daily Mail reported today that the number of mortgages available in the UK now stands at a paltry 2,282, down almost half from 5,040 this time last year and a massive drop from July 2007 when borrowers had 27,962 deals to choose from. Experts suggest that the hardest hit are those with smaller deposits, with only 128 schemes available up to 90% of the property value. In a similarly gloomy vein, the Financial Times discussed a recent report b...

What the papers say - 13th May 2009

The Daily Mail this week revealed that thousands of First Time Buyers who applied for help through the MyChoice Homebuy scheme have been told that there is no more money available. The scheme allowed housing associations to supply a low cost loan with the buyer funding the rest with a deposit and mortgage. The Government allocation for the 2008-09 tax year was quickly used up however, and many housing associations made promises to applicants base...

What the papers say - 6th May 2009

The midweek mortgage-related press was relatively quiet following last weekend’s extensive coverage of rate predictions. The Daily Express reported on a new licensing scheme to be introduced by the Association of Residential Letting Agents, which is should ensure that members are professionally qualified, and client money is protected. The article reveals however that there have been calls for the Government to do more to protect tenants from evi...

Budget Summary

Here are the main points of the budget delivered yesterday by Alistair DarlingHousing & MortgagesThe temporary increase in the nil rate stamp duty threshold to £175,000 will be extended to the end of the year. This means around 60% of all house purchases will be exempt.£500 million will be provided to enable stalled housing developments to be completed£100 million will be given to local government to build energy efficient housing.£50 million...

What the papers say – 4th and 5th April 2009

Easter generally sees the start of house buying season, and as such this weekend’s press examined the current state of the UK housing market. The Independent on Sunday reported that the average property price has fallen below £150,000 for the first time in 5 years, yet mortgage finance remains the biggest barrier, particularly to First Time Buyers with small deposits. The Sunday Express continues this by discussing the call from campaigners for a...

Government Announces New Measures to Support Banks and Free up Funds for Lending

The Government has announced a second round of packages aimed at stabilising UK banks and encouraging lending. The measures will see billions of pounds of taxpayer’s money pumped into the effort to free up funds, which it is hoped with be lent to both homeowners and businesses. In the original round of measures last October, the Government committed £37 billion, but this round could go much further.The package of measures includes an Asset Protec...

Mergers bring further change to UK mortgage market.

The merger this week of Lloyds TSB and the HBoS group has created a super lender controlling around 28% of the mortgage market, 1 in 3 current accounts and 1 in 5 credit cards.The business is over 40% owned by the taxpayer after shareholders spurned the opportunity to invest in the £13 billion share offer. It will be called Lloyds Banking Group but will continue to operate the separate brands.Following a number of mergers last year, including Abb...

What the papers say - 17th and 18th January 2009

Mortgage-related articles were overshadowed this weekend by features on tax returns, savings rates and with-profit endowments, despite some lenders introducing new rates and experts dividing opinion about what sort of mortgage to go for. The Financial Times revealed that changes in the market mean landlords find it hard to find a decent deal. As well as charging higher rates, many buy-to-let landlords have lowered their maximum loan-to-values an...

Pre Budget Report

Alistair Darling presented his pre budget report yesterday and committed himself to spending his way out of recession. The package of measures announced will cost around £20 billion, but apart from the leaked changes to VAT and income tax, there was very little to encourage the population to spend.The Economy The Chancellor predicts the economy will continue to shrink until 2010 when he expects some modest growth. During this period Government bo...

Yorkshire and Barnsley Building Societies to merge.

The Yorkshire and Barnsley building societies are to merge by the end of the year as the Barnsley seeks protection against the possible loss of up to £10m, deposited with two Icelandic banks.The Barnsley along with some local authorities and charities had more than a billion pounds between them on deposit with Icelandic banks, which are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. The Barnsley said it had reserves large enough to ab...

Interest Rate Insurance

A new type of insurance has just been launched, which aims to protect borrowers against rising mortgage interest rates.The insurance from MarketGuard, is aimed at the 5.9 million borrowers who have a variable rate mortgage, and who may be concerned about interest rates rising.The policy gives some peace of mind that if interest rates climb by more than a pre agreed level, then the policyholder won’t have to find the extra monthly cost, as the pol...

Mortgage News

Bank of England to help lenders with £50 billion Special Liquidity Scheme.The Bank of England has announced a special scheme designed to help ease the problems in the UK mortgage market.The ProblemBanks are reluctant to lend to each other as they are unsure who might be hiding losses, incurred largely from investments in US mortgages. This lack of confidence means that lenders are unable to sell, or offer as security for a loan, even high quality...

What the papers say - 15th and 16th March 2008

Last week’s budget and the issues it raised about the property market were the primary focus of the weekend press. Nearly all the national newspapers featured articles on the Chancellor’s hopes for long-term fixed rates and the changes to shared-equity and shared ownership schemes. However, a much hoped for revision of stamp duty did not materialise, leaving many potential first-time buyers disappointed.  The Times reported Alistair Darling’s ne...

BUDGET 2008: Green homes

There was definitely a green tinge to this year’s budget. In his speech, Alistair Darling used the word ‘carbon’ 26 times – only one mention less than the word ‘tax’!Gas-guzzling cars and plastic bags were targeted, but so too were our homes.  According to the Government, Households account for around a quarter of the UK’s energy consumption and 14% of carbon dioxide emissions.It wants to encourage homeowners to make their homes more energy-effic...

BUDGET 2008: Stamp Duty

Disappointingly, there were once again no great changes to the Stamp Duty Land Tax.The last change to this tax was in 2006 when the 1% threshold was increased from £120,000 to £125,000, but there has been no change to the other bands (at £250,000 and £500,000) since 2000.Thanks to the housing boom, the Government has seen nearly a ten-fold increase in its revenue from stamp duty over the last decade.  In 200/07, it received £6.4 billion according...

Budget Day

Alistair Darling will give his first Budget speech at 12.30 p.m. today.  The Chancellor has not had a happy tenure so far since taking over from Gordon Brown.  The collapse of Northern Rock has inevitably led to huge amounts of criticism and Mr Darling now faces some very tough market conditions.So what might we see from the Chancellor today regarding mortgages?Long term fixed rates – these have been a pet topic for Darling but the discussion dat...

Northern Rock for “Temporary Public Ownership”

The bill to nationalise the UK’s 5th largest mortgage lender was published yesterday and is expected to become law as quickly as Thursday.Having decided that the two remaining takeover bids (from the consortium led by the Virgin Group, and the Rock’s own management), did not offer “sufficient value for money for the taxpayer”, the Government will look to push through public ownership; with a move back into the private sector at the earliest and m...

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