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Housing market will be subdued this year ? What are the implications for you?
2017 was a transformative year for the mortgage market.
The Bank of England raised the base rate for the first time in a decade. The number of remortgages skyrocketed to levels unseen since the credit crisis. Consumers flocked to capitalise on record low rates. Demand for five-year fixed rate deals surged.
What about 2018?
We think the housing market will be subdued. Prices will be stable with perhaps some, limited, growth.
The Bank of England has made it plain further rate rises are on the horizon. Inflation and stifled wage growth will put pressure on household finances. This will limit the demand for home moves.
That will be tempered somewhat by the Chancellor’s plans to reduce stamp duty for the lower thresholds while also committing to build 300,000 new homes next year.
But there’s no question that we’ll see more focus from lenders, brokers, and consumers on remortgage.
With this in mind, LMS has spent some time thinking about what the next few years might have in store – for the mortgage market in general and the conveyancing space in particular.
5-year fixed deals will continue to dominate the market for the foreseeable future. Locking-into low rate deals for the long term offers consumers a level of security; savvy borrowers will keep capitalising on record low rates.
As rates slowly rise over the next few years, we predict each increase in the base rate will act as a trigger point and incite borrowing activity – consumers will flock to secure low rates before the next hike.
There are benefits to variable mortgage though and these will become increasingly clear as people adjust to the new interest rate environment.
The flexibility variable rate product provide can be a huge benefit for the right borrower. They’re a great option for anyone looking to move sooner rather than later as they tend not to hit borrowers with big early repayment charges. Their fees are lower. And rates are still very low in a historic context. Any rise will likely be slow and gradual.
So lenders and brokers are going to be busy. This will drive competition. Lenders will either need to be innovative with their products or differentiate by their service delivery or technology solutions.
Some may use a combination of strategies but we certainly expect increased competition in the remortgage space.
Lenders, as well as brokers and conveyancers, will try to offer an increasingly ‘joined-up’ service to make mortgaging and remortgaging as easy as possible for borrowers.
Making conveyancing easy
Over the last year, the increased volume of transactions has put pressure on all parties within the conveyancing market. As a result, a number of improvements have been made.
Over the course of 2018, we will see more.
To deal with the increased volume of transactions, conveyancers have had to work more closely with lenders, brokers, and property lawyers, which has driven efficiency and improved the customer experience.
Similarly, technological innovation and the drive towards automation will help keep borrowers informed.
At LMS, for example, we launched the “TrackMyCase” app, to help borrowers follow the progress of their cases 24/7. Our unique STARS (Servicer Tracking & Reporting System) technology manages transactions on-line to ensure speed, cost efficiency, and quality of service.
The industry will need to continue to improve and adapt, investing in technology to make processes faster, easier and help protect against risk. That is why technical innovations is as the heart of our strategy for 2018.
Regulatory change will also drive disruption.
GDPR, PSD2 and open banking have the potential to create real change and opportunities by opening up data.
How this will be embraced remains to be seen. But advancements in AI are already offering a tantalising glimpse of the power of combining the customer data and new technology to drive the customer journeys forward.
Technological development needs to be a collaborative process though – a collective endeavour.
Brokers, lenders, and property lawyers will need to work together to improve systems. The drive for technology improvement will only take us so far if we try to act in isolation.
Red tape and policy can, for instance, prevent technology from speeding up the service. That is why we need to work collectively on refining processes, legal instructions, and communications between interested parties – and support this with technology.
No fees, but lots of great help and advice regarding the impact of Stamp Duty amendments.
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House prices in Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham could feasibly rise by between 20-25% in the next three years, Hometrack has predicted in its UK Cities House Prices. Overall UK city house price inflation increased to 6.1%, which chief executive of estate agent eMoov described as “promising signs for the UK market”. Russell Quirk, property expert and founder of eMoov, said: “Overall, yet more promising signs for the UK market with city house price growth remaining buoyant in the face of tough market conditions.” Quirk thought the scrapping of stamp duty for first-time buyers in the Autumn Budget could stimulate more growth. He added: “The recent abolition of first-time buyer stamp duty may assist this level of growth as a rejuvenated level of buyer demand further outstripping the supply of housing will see prices continue to climb in the long-term. “For many trying to get a foot on the ladder, the stamp duty changes will be of little comfort given the continued increase in prices, as the obstacle of affordability and the gulf between this and the earnings on offer is already rather sizable and preventing them from taking that first step. “London continues to be a shining beacon of unaffordability where the earnings to property price ratio is concerned, and it is unlikely that any reprieve of first-time buyer stamp duty will do anything to change that.”
Temporary cut in Stamp Duty would boost housing market.What are the implications for you?
A temporary Stamp Duty cut in this month’s Budget could boost the housing market by encouraging homeowners to move, according to research from Aldermore.
The bank found that over a fifth of recent homebuyers would move again if they didn’t have to pay the tax, while three in 10 prospective first-time buyers would accelerate their plans to buy a home if Stamp Duty was temporarily reduced.
Even longer-term homeowners would look at moving if they could avoid Stamp Duty, with one in six (15%) longer-term home owners admitting they would be incentivised to move property without having to factor in Stamp Duty costs.
Charles McDowell, Aldermore’s commercial director, mortgages, said: “With the property market at risk of coming to a standstill, we would welcome any plans, temporary or otherwise, that reduce Stamp Duty.
“If the Chancellor announced this change in next week’s Budget, it would be a decision that could kickstart market activity. A reduction in Stamp Duty would be particularly beneficial for first-buyers who are struggling with an overly complex and costly system.”
Too much focus on FTBs
It’s no surprise that almost half of wannabe buyers (47%) want an end to Stamp Duty for first-time buyers.
But research published yesterday by the London School of Economics (LSE) highlighted potentially better ways of reforming Stamp Duty by targeting changes at other sectors.
It argued that temporary Stamp Duty holidays simply squeeze demand into a small window and typically force prices up. In other words they create a spike in purchasing followed by a dip.
The LSE report, commissioned by Family Building Society, noted that a cut to first-time buyer Stamp Duty looks likely in next week’s Autumn Budget, but reckoned targeting tax changes at retirees could have a greater effect.
Break for older homeowners
The report suggested that promoting downsizing or moving on to more suitable accommodation by older people is essential to free up the housing market, but that Stamp Duty puts many older people off.
The Aldermore research also found homowners were supportive of such a tax cut. Nearly half (46%) of long-term homeowners believe that scrapping Stamp Duty for those looking to downsize would benefit the UK housing market.
Respondents also pointed out that the supply side of housing needs to be addressed in the Budget, with over two fifths (41%) saying they want to see the Government support the creation of more social housing.
McDowell said: “It is clear from the findings that the nation believes more needs to be done by the Government to improve the housing market.
“However, whilst it would be great for there to be changes in the tax system it can only have a limited impact, the underlying issue remains that more affordable houses need to be built.”
House prices rising at fastest rate since start of year, says Halifax
House prices in the UK are rising at their fastest rate since the start of the year, largely due to a shortage of homes on the market, according to mortgage lender Halifax.
Its house price index shows property values up 4.5% between August and October compared with the same period in 2016, the fastest pace of growth since February. The average house price was up 0.3% between September and October, rising to a record £225,826. A rival survey from Nationwide out last week also showed house prices picking up in October, to an annual rate of 2.5%, the highest reading recorded in three months. Russell Galley, managing director of Halifax Community Bank, said low mortgage rates, high rates of employment and a shortage of homes for sale was pushing up prices “and is likely to do so over the coming months”. He added: “Increasing pressure on household finances and continuing affordability concerns are some of the factors likely to dampen buyer demand. That said we do not anticipate the base rate rise will be a barrier to buying a house.” Forecasters at the EY Item Club reckon house prices will remain subdued for the rest of the year and then rise by a modest 2%-3% next year, as squeezed households hold back from buying property. Estate agents were more upbeat and dismissed the notion that the pick-up in price growth was a last hurrah following the Bank of England’s interest rate rise last week to 0.5% – the first increase in borrowing costs in a decade. Lucy Pendleton, the founder director of estate agent James Pendleton, said: “We’ve since had a rate rise but what you’re seeing isn’t one last hurrah as people rush to grab the best mortgage rates. It’s that same old ball and chain around the UK property market’s neck – weak supply. The countdown on rates may have helped support demand but mortgage approvals were down. “There will also be an echo from September’s back-to-work bounce, as deals brokered before the summer holidays complete in the autumn, but such a strong second month is uncharacteristic and shows the market in surprisingly rude health.”
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