With the Budget now confirmed for March 11th, there has been much-fevered talk around what the Chancellor will do. Especially now it is not the Chancellor we thought would be delivering the budget!
After the shenanigans that lead to the resignation of Sajid Javid, with his refusal to get rid of his entire advisory team, new Chancellor Rishi Sunak is rumoured to be more amenable to splashing the cash.
For all of us in the property market, what this means is subject to much speculation. Will there be Stamp Duty reductions at the top rate or an extension of the nil-rate band for First-Time buyers up from £300,000 to £500,000? Will they go through with the rumoured additional charge for overseas buyers?
As with any budget, there will be a lot of give and take, but we hope that this will be a progressive one with help where really needed.
Meanwhile, the mortgage market seems to be going from strength to strength in the early part of this year, with a barrage of new rates and criteria changes that are putting a smile on buyers faces. Competition is really fierce at present and shows no signs of abating any time soon.
HSBC has come back strongly with the cheapest 5-year fix now on the market, trying to topple Halifax’s recent dominance. Santander, Barclays, and NatWest continue to be strong players whilst lenders such as Coventry Building Society, Accord and Virgin Money, amongst others, give them a run for their money.
Service-wise, most lenders seem to be a lot better with their turnaround times, especially for those taking the sensible route and going through brokers. That said, there is still a huge amount of difference between lenders with some lenders averaging 8 or days from application to offer whilst others are averaging around 18 days.
This is an important part of our advice process; after all, there is no point chasing a slightly cheaper rate if the offer will come out too late to secure the property!
Mortgage rates are still crazily low and not set to go anywhere else for the foreseeable future. For standard residential mortgages, borrowers can obtain 2-year fixes at 1.14%, (3.77% APRC) and 5-year fixes from 1.41%, (3.14% APRC) whilst variable tracker rates are around from 1.24%, (3.75% APRC).
Those looking at Buy-To-Let can now obtain products from just 1.19%, (4.54% APRC) for a 2-year fixed or a 5-year fix is available from 1.64% (4.08% APRC).