Mortgage Deals Start To Come Through
At last borrowers are seeing some lower fixed rate mortgages deals as lenders finally see fit to reduce rates more than a month after the Bank of England lowered the base rate. Lenders have placed the blame on the high swap rate – used for money banks lend to each other – brought about by the credit crunch.
Last week swap rates came back to normal levels as the base rate was expected to come down again in February, and fixed-rate deals have begun to appear for new borrowers. Leeds, Skipton, Norwich and Peterborough, Stroud and Swindon and Yorkshire building societies as well as Cheltenham & Gloucester, First Direct, Giraffe, Halifax, the Post Office, Woolwich and Mortgage Express all had new deals on offer.
As many other providers are now expected to follow suit, Richard Morea at independent mortgage broker London & Country in Bath, Somerset, said: “Lenders have been incredibly slow to cut fixed rates this time. The cost of borrowing has come down for lenders. Yet until last week we had seen little evidence of this being passed on in the form of new mortgage deals. The credit crunch has no doubt made lenders nervous about their funding and more acutely aware of their margins.”
Melanie Bien, director at broker Savills Private Finance in central London, said that although she expected more attractive fixed rates to be launched in the coming days, the best rates wouldn’t be around for long, so borrowers should act swiftly.
Last week First Direct launched a two-year fixed rate at 4.75% with a £1,498 arrangement fee, for borrowers with a minimum 20% deposit or equity in their home. Alternatively, borrowers can get 4.99% fixed for five years with the same lender with a more manageable £598 fee.
Despite fixed rates starting to look more attractive, experts are suggesting that borrowers should consider tracker mortgages, which will follow the base rate. Mortgage broker Hamptons says that more borrowers are choosing variable rates over fixed rates compared with a year ago – from 22% to 52% – as people anticipate interest rates falling.
With Scottish Widows borrowers can pay 0.34% above the base rate, currently 5.5%, for two years with no arrangement fee. This offer is for a maximum loan to value of 80%. At 95% LTV, borrowers can get 0.01% below base rate for two years with a £999 set-up fee.