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Stamp Duty Holiday concept

The current Stamp Duty Holiday comes to an end in a little over two months. And there is a growing call from across the property industry for the Chancellor to extend it.

Removing the property tax from homes under £500,000 has been a shot in the arm for the market. While Covid-19 brought a sudden halt last March, the market was already slowing down ahead of it.

For many people, staying put before the holiday was the only option as the tax over-stretched their finances. Whilst they could afford the mortgage on their new home, and even covering the cost moving, finding the extra cash for Stamp Duty was a stretch too far.

Prior to the holiday, anyone buying a new home over £125,000 had to find funds to pay the treasury to cover the price of moving. The percentage increases at the next threshold of £250,000). Of course, there was a higher threshold for first-time buyers, but it still often put off next-time movers.

The average house price in the UK is £256,000 and these are not exactly vast mansions, but everyday homes for average-sized families. So, the Stamp Duty Holiday gave many of those who were outgrowing their home the chance to move. It is no surprise, therefore, that the market picked up the way it did at the end of 2020.

But with the deadline looming and delays due to Covid-19 and further lockdowns, it means many could miss out! Even if someone has had their mortgage approved and started the buying process in the past few weeks, there is a chance the deal will not meet the deadline.

Throw in the fact that anyone in the chain (including solicitors, surveyors, etc.) may have to self-isolate, it could lead to unexpected delays. As a result, a buyer will have to find extra cash to pay the tax through no fault of their own.

Stamp Duty ‘chaos’?

As TV property expert Phil Spencer said last week, the finite deadline could release ‘chaos’ and ‘mayhem’. With everyone working to the date, he believes it will create major issues if sales are not completed in time.

He said in a radio interview, “It’s great to keep people motivated towards that day. But actually, if they haven’t completed their deals on that date, the chances are that deals will be collapsing left right and centre. It will just be bedlam.”

The last thing anyone wants is to see deals collapse because the knock-on effect in the chain will be devastating. From the first-time buyers at the bottom of the chain to those downsizing at the top.

Sold STC

To help reduce the risk of the market being thrown into chaos, extending the Stamp Duty Holiday for those who have started the buying process would help.

Research by property magazine Property Reporter says there is an ‘overwhelming demand’ and mounting pressure on the government to do this. We would certainly agree!

So many buyers will spend money on legal advice, searches, surveys and arrangement fees over the next couple of months only to find they can’t complete in time. A house currently Sold Subject to Contact (STC) could then end up back on the market on 1 April! That will be emotionally devastating for both buyer and vendor; but the buyer will also end up with less money to spend in future as they have already paid fees.

Buyers are already beginning to retreat, and house builder Persimmon is reporting a slowdown in sales as the deadline gets nearer.

Extension call

A petition calling on the Government to extend the holiday has surpassed the 100,000 signatures. This means the issue will be considered for debate in Parliament.

We would add our support to the debate because we believe an extension is necessary to keep the market moving. Certainly, allowing those who have had offers accepted should qualify for the tax break at the very least.

Like Phil Spencer, we agree that a clear deadline and strict cut-off date is not the answer.

We recognise that this tax adds coffers to the public purse, but it is unfair on all those who are so close to completing having to rethink due to circumstances outside their control.

If you want to talk about your mortgage, contact the mortgage team today.

This year has been like no other and the mortgage market, as expected, has been impacted by the Covid pandemic.

Although house prices climbed to record highs during 2020, the volume of mortgage transactions fell. Lenders also became more risk averse and fewer borrowers withdrew equity from their homes.

So, what are the main changes for the mortgage market?

Fewer mortgages

There was an unprecedented decline in the range of mortgage products available during the lengthy first UK lockdown. Such low numbers have not been seen since the financial crisis of 2007.

In February 2020, deals with a loan to value above 90% represented 10% of the UK’s residential mortgage market. By June, these had fallen to fewer than two per cent. Buyers became sceptical, nervous and unsure about their futures. Unemployment has become a real threat for lots of people and this had an impact on the mortgage market.

Fewer borrowers

The number of mortgages agreed fell significantly during the lockdown crisis; but it is now edging slowly back up. In January this year, the number of people securing a mortgage was 16% higher than in January 2019. But by April, figures were 54% down on the previous month a year earlier. It was picking back up again in June, but still below the trend of previous years.

It is thought that the rebound was due to the increase in demand at the end of lockdown, as the market almost completely froze in the early stages. The lockdown has meant many out-of-town homes with more outside space have become very popular as people worry about future lockdowns. City dwellers appear to be heading out into suburbs and smaller towns and villages.

Remortgaging

The remortgage market wasn’t hit quite as hard as the rest of the mortgage market. The pace of remortgaging certainly took a hit, but figures remain fairly consistent with the patterns of the last five years.

Those remortgaging are typically established homeowners with lots of equity in their properties. This suggests that the market was much kinder to the older generation, but the younger first-time buyers still had a mountain to climb.

What’s next?

There are signs that the market is bouncing back and starting to recover. The second lockdown restrictions are easing a little, and people are regaining some confidence to mix with others. There’s also more economic stability, although many industries and sectors are still at risk of mass job losses. This will become more apparent once the furlough scheme finally ends next year.

Mortgage products have reduced, and costs have continued to rise, so first-time buyers and those with limited savings have fewer options than they did prior to lockdown.

While house prices continue to rise, it remains to be seen what the next six months look like for the mortgage market. Many are expecting to see a boom as restrictions continue to ease, especially in light of news about three potential vaccines becoming available.

Either way, the mortgage market is a fluid landscape at the moment. The mortgage and housing market is always subject to change, but we always scrutinise what is happening so we can give the best advice.

If you need help with your mortgage or remortgage, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Couple looking at online house searches

Last week, online property portal Rightmove reported that new data shows online house searches have returned to pre-Covid-19 levels.

Specialist mortgage software firm Twenty7Tec said it saw searches for new mortgages overtaking remortgages for the first time since lockdown began.

It is an encouraging sign that online house searches have been so high during such a time of uncertainty.

While no one is expecting things to get back to full strength for some time, lockdown appears to have done little to dampen buyers’ eagerness to continue with their housing plans.

This will eventually help fuel a return to a vibrant mortgage market sometime in the future. It is essential for those needing higher loan to value (LTV) mortgages, such as first-time buyers.

High LTV mortgages

We are starting to see the return of 90% loan to value mortgages (where you need a deposit of 10%). These are essential because a buoyant first-time buyers’ market largely governs the health of the rest of the property market.

It is understandable that the majority of lenders decided to pause these products during the early days of lockdown. With valuations put on hold and wider uncertainty, lenders had to use caution and this vigilant approach will continue as they assess what impact the lockdown has had.

Many buyers will now be in a very different financial position and will also need time to reassess the situation. A number of lenders are reintroducing high LTV mortgages, which appears to be a positive step.

Seek advice

As ever, if you are searching for a new mortgage, regardless of your available deposit, it is worth taking advice.

While mortgage comparison sites seem like a good way to find a lot of deals, they are limited in their offering and do not cover the criteria that may need to be considered.

Also, now more than ever is the time to seek advice due to the criteria changes across the market.

Our advisers have many years of house-buying and mortgage knowledge that they can share with you. This is essential whether you are a first-time buyer, new to moving up the property ladder or looking to remortgage in order to secure a better deal.

Couple celebrate after gaining first time buyer mortgage

First-time buyers are understandably nervous when it comes to buying their first home. There is so much information out there and there are a lot of steps involved.

Your home is the likely to be the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make, so having a checklist really helps.

At Co-Navigate, we’ve been helping first-time buyers in Newcastle and beyond with mortgages for years.

So here is our advice:

Can you afford it?

Before you think any further about buying a house, you have to check out your budget. Can you afford a home?
There are many occasions where your monthly mortgage payment may be cheaper than your monthly rent payments. This means buying is often a better prospect because you will, one day, own the property.
But remember, when you’re buying a property, you’re also responsible for every bill. That includes building repairs, decoration, gardens and any associated costs, such as management company bills if you’re living in an apartment.
The best way to work out if you can afford a mortgage (or if you need to know when you’ll reach that point) is to speak to an expert. This is where Co-Navigate can help.
There are free calculators available online and this one from The Money Advice Service is very useful. But whilst it gives you an idea of affordability it doesn’t give you the full picture. Sitting with Lyndsey at Co-Navigate, you can discuss your options that will really help you to find a mortgage to suit your needs.

A deposit

Saving for a deposit is essential. You cannot get a mortgage without a deposit.
Why do you need a deposit? Well, lenders don’t want to take all the responsibility for the purchase, so you need to show you are serious and prepared to take a risk with your money too.
If you’re in the early stages of considering buying your own home, start saving now. Housing charity Shelter says it can take young families 12 years to save for a deposit of 20%.

Your mortgage

It’s a word you’ll have heard but what is a mortgage?
It is, quite simply, a loan from a specialist mortgage provider that you pay back over a number of years. The actual number of years varies massively from person to person and no one solution fits all.
Like any loan, there is interest to pay as well as the sum that you borrowed.
Remember that you must pay what you owe as your home could be at risk if you fail to do so. Failure to pay means the mortgage provider can and will take your home from you!
So where can you find a mortgage? You could try a bank or building society, but they’ll only offer you their own products and limited advice, or you could try an independent mortgage broker, like Co-Navigate. We are based in Newcastle but we have clients with mortgages from across the North East and the whole of the UK.
Why choose an independent mortgage broker? We can access mortgage deals from across the whole of the market whereas a bank or building society can only offer you their own products.
Not only do we have access to more deals, we often have exclusive mortgages that you won’t find on any comparison sites or from banks and building societies direct.
But more importantly you’ll have someone to hold your hand through the whole process. Someone who deals with mortgages day in and day out – an expert in their field.

Remember all your costs

We will look at buying a home and whether to choose new-build or pre-loved homes in a future blog, but the next point to remember is your costs.
Buying a house involves getting a number of professionals involved and they need to be paid.
For example, you will need a solicitor to carry out many of the legal aspects, including ‘conveyancing searches’. House sales website Zoopla explains what searches are here.
As well as the solicitor’s fee, there will be fees for those searches.
And we also advise looking at options around which survey needs to be completed. A Homebuyers Report, which can highlight any structural issues can often be useful. If there is anything seriously wrong, you can renegotiate the price and/or request issues are rectified before you complete. There are different types of survey report so make sure you find out more.
Many mortgage providers will offer a basic free valuation, but some will charge for this and can cost around £100-£400.
Stamp Duty is an often forgotten about tax which can significantly add to your purchase costs, especially if you already own another property. You can work out how much stamp duty will be here.
As you can see, fees can add up even before you complete on your home and you need to make sure you have the funds available.

What to do next?

Whether you’ve seen your first home or are just thinking about buying, why not contact Lyndsey today for a free no-obligation meeting to see how close you are to finding your first home.

Your home is at risk if you don’t keep up repayments on your mortgage.