I hope all is well with you.
Just to say that I appreciate your views in your column and agree with your concerns. Anyone looking at purchasing a property at any time, not just now, needs to be made aware of all the potential issues that come with home ownership and the associated mortgage commitments.
This is something that, as an independent adviser we always do, ensuring our clients go in to the transaction with both eyes open and carefully explain the process. We certainly do not advise people just to buy because rates are low and damn the consequences. Apart from not being ethical, it is not a particularly good business plan and would not get us the high levels of repeat business, recommendations and testimonials we currently receive.
Brian and I have both been in the industry a long time, long enough to see the upturns and the downturns. Our job is to help ensure that none of our clients ever get “hopelessly in debt” and are educated enough to make sensible decisions. For the small number who may have an issue, due mainly to unfortunate changes in circumstances, we are there to help them through wherever we can. Our clients are our lifeblood and all our advisers take the time to get to know each and every one so that we can enjoy a long term relationship rather than a one off transaction.
People come to us having already made the decision to buy for a myriad of reasons; moving out of the family home, starting a family, a school catchment area, divorce, work related etc. We do not just sell home ownership as an investment and it is about time people stopped referring to property in this way all the time – it is about owning a home, building a family, living in your own home and taking a long term view; not making a quick buck or expecting infinite growth year after year.
It would therefore appear, that you have misunderstood our comments, as neither of us said that everyone should just go out and buy because rates are so low.
What I did say, was that in my opinion the rates now represent the best opportunity for a long time for borrowers who are at risk of future interest rate rises to lock in to longer term fixes whilst prices are so low. There are many borrowers who have become too reliant on the low rate environment and there is a danger that they become blasé and do not act to protect themselves from the undoubted changes that will occur in the future.
I speak primarily about remortgage customers and those who are happily enjoying low variable rates, as I worry that some will leave it too long before protecting themselves. Don’t tell me that educating the public that you can fix for 5 years at just over 2% or 10 years at just under 3% is the wrong thing to do?
It is certainly not the idea to deliberately entice buyers into the market to take out loans they cannot afford, which is not how today’s professional mortgage broking community do business. We are heavily regulated, professionally qualified and provide independent advice, (which we are liable for), to help potential borrowers achieve their aims. What is more, we all work damn hard for our clients, representing their interest at all times.
For those that do want to buy however, again we are keen to educate them that low, long term fixes that can help them manage their budgets accordingly are available. This is a good option versus even lower, short term trackers for example. Rate is not everything and for many security is key.
In this post Mortgage Market Review world, which was ultimately a sensible and very long overdue piece of regulation wholeheartedly supported by independent mortgage brokers, lenders are most certainly not “relaxing their strictures on mortgage applications”. This seems to be an extraordinary assertion; just ask anyone who has sat through a 3 hour mortgage interview in a bank branch recently.
Borrowers are assessed on affordability not just today, but also on a stress tested basis at a rate some 3% or so higher than now. What is more, with the further introduction of Loan-To-Income caps, the demise of interest only lending and the sensible removal of “self-certification” mortgages, it can be a daunting task to get a loan approved.
As far as house prices are concerned, especially in high demand areas such as London, we have thankfully already seen an easing off from the craziness of the first part of last year, with no doubt more to come as the new borrowing rules take effect.
Ever higher house prices don’t help anyone, certainly not in our industry. We want to see a return to a stable housing market, one which is ultimately affordable and with a good level of transactions, but I fear that until we have a fully joined up Government policy that enables more housing to be built, especially more affordable housing, low supply and high demand will continue to dictate prices.
I write all of this in good spirit and fully acknowledge your opinion. I am slightly disappointed, however, that you have tried to cast aspirations on Mr Murphy’s credibility as an expert, someone who has been in this industry for many years, is highly respected and a thoroughly decent man.
Independent brokers such as us dedicate our days and often late nights to doing our best for borrowers in a market that can be confusing, daunting and a little scary. We are the good guys and girls who want to educate and guide our clients through the mortgage maze to ensure that there are no issues or sudden surprises in the future. To ensure that they are so happy with our advice and service that they come back to us time and time again.
The industry needs our voices and we are qualified to do this. Unless of course we just rely on the banks to be our moral compasses where lending money is concerned…
If you are still reading we would be more than happy to meet up and discuss all of this over lunch at a convenient time.