I want to be very clear about the question posed in the title, especially as the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee, (MPC) obviously kept rates on hold again today and in all likelihood, look set to keep it that way for a good few months yet.
This rise in rates I am alluding to is due to two things; firstly, as the storm in the Eurozone does its best to turn itself into a full scale hurricane of a banking crisis, because quite simply the cost of funds looks set to rise and secondly, liquidity issues are once more emerging from the shadows.
Given that almost every report seems to suggest we are heading, if not towards another full-scale recession, but a period of stagnation that feels like a recession anyway, it will come as no surprise that the MPC has decided to print more money, entering into another period of Quantitative Easing, (QE) a month earlier than initially expected. Another £75 billion, slightly more than thought, will be pumped into the system.
On the back of the US’s “Operation Twist”, which in essence involves the Fed selling short-term bonds and, here’s the twist, replacing them with longer term ones, (the result being that as more long-term bonds are purchased interest rates should fall), there was pressure on the Bank of England to do their bit.
As for the Euro issues turning into a banking crisis, we have already seen the first casualty in the shape of the Belgian / French bank Dexia which is about to enter into a Northern Rock style arrangement. Although the Europeans have talked positively about supporting their banks and of course Greece, it seems the markets do not quite believe them and need to see a concrete plan of action.
All this means there is a very high probability that, whilst the UK banks are undoubtedly in a much better position that our Euro counterparts, lending levels will be affected in the coming months. Almost every lender I have spoken to has said the same; unless things change they expect funding costs to rise and therefore mortgage rates on offer will rise accordingly.
With all of this mind and whilst we are experiencing some of the lowest rates for a generation, it does seem that the time to act is now. For those looking to remortgage there are now many products that are available at less than even the lowest Standard Variable Rate and some highly competitive fixed rates.
Tracker products start at 1.98% for 2 years, (the overall cost for comparison is 4.60% APR) and fixes now start at just 1.99%, (the overall cost for comparison is 5.30% APR), which is the lowest 2 years fix anyone can remember, a fantastic 2.69% (the overall cost for comparison is 3.40% APR) for 3 years and 5 year fixes available at an astonishing 3.29% (the overall cost for comparison is 4.90% APR).
Remember most offers are valid for 3 to 6 months, so if Chancellor Merkel et al do get their act together and rates improve again there will still be options.