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According to research by Savills, rents grew by as much as 17.6pc in prime North London areas such as Hampstead and Islington last year, compared to a rise of 4.8pc in the mainstream UK market.

“Stock shortages persist which is good news for landlords,” said Jacqui Daly, Savills residential research director.

“The dynamic of constrained mortgage markets, of buyers adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach, a lack of new build supply, a return of corporate tenants, improving employment prospects and the reduction in accidental landlords, means that strong rental growth will continue to characterise the market in 2011.”

Savills predicts that rents will increase by an average of 8pc across prime London and by 7pc in the prime central zones (such as Chelsea) this year. This compares with a 2011 forecast for growth in London sales prices of just 1pc.

The RBS have revised their forecast for BoE Bank Rates and are now forecasting a 25bp hike in May. A May hike would mark a turning point in the monetary policy cycle but RBS expects the process of Bank Rate normalisation to be incremental and policy to remain accommodative for several years. By end-2011 RBS forecasts the Bank Rate to stand at 1%, with rates edging up to 1.5% by end-2012.

Source: RBS

Following intense scrutiny of the 4.0% CPI inflation number, all eyes were on the Bank of England press conference yesterday, especially following assertions in the Financial Times and other media that Governor Mervyn King had laid the ground for future rate increases in his recent letter to Chancellor George Osbourne. However, Mervyn King roundly contradicted this view, indicating that he had not intended to lead the market into believing interest rate increases were likely. Rather, King said that “some people are running ahead of themselves”.

It is hard to see then why some commentators have interpreted the report as indicating that rate rises are now more likely. The report itself goes to some length to explain the temporary factors pushing up CPI inflation. For the first time, the MPC published a chart illustrating its view of the underlying inflation rate, excluding the temporary impact of changes in value added tax, energy and import prices. The report indicates that underlying inflation is probably below 1.5%. As Governor Mervyn King reiterated at length in yesterday’s press conference, the MPC is concerned about where the CPI inflation rate will be in the medium term, rather than the current headline rate which captures price changes over the past 12 months.

The hawks on the committee such as Andrew Sentance have argued that a potential pick-up in inflation expectations poses an upside risk to CPI inflation. Yesterday’s evidence from the labour market suggests that the likelihood of expectations led wage-price pressure has diminished. There was a rise in UK claimant count unemployment and average wage growth fell back to 1.9%. So for now, nominal wage growth remains very weak.

Nevertheless, it should be remembered that 0.5% remains an unusually low setting for the policy rate, and the Inflation Report probably reflects the governor’s view to a greater extent than other MPC members. So a rate increase in May cannot be ruled out. Hence, it will especially important to focus on the release of the minutes of the last MPC meeting to see if more than two members voted for a rate increase. However, yesterday’s report indicates that expectations for immediate rate rises have been overstated.

Davy.ie

The Bank of England lowers its growth forecast for the British economy and signals a rise in interest rates to tame inflation – but Governor Mervyn King says no decision has been made on timing.
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In its latest quarterly report published today, the Bank said output was likely to be weaker than expected in 2011, but a double dip recession was not expected.

Inflation is likely to continue rising this year to around 5 per cent, before falling close to the Government’s 2 per cent target in 2012 – but only if interest rates rise in the second quarter of 2011.

The Bank of England said monetary policy would need to be tightened to bring medium-term inflation back on track, confirming market expectations that interest rates would start rising in May.

In a letter to the chancellor George Osborne that was triggered by a 4 per cent increase in consumer prices last month on the back of surging food and petrol costs, Mervyn King said inflation was “likely” to return to the Bank’s official 2 per cent target on “the assumption that [the] Bank rate increases in line with market expectations”.

Click here to watch video on FT.com

Better mortgage deals are being offered to buy-to-let investors, with
one lender now providing mortgages of up to 85 per cent of a property’s
value – the highest loan to value available to landlords since the
credit crunch.

The move comes as more high street lenders look to enter the buy-to-let
market, which could see competition in the sector increase and provide
more choice for property investors.

Yorkshire Building Society said this week that it was considering
offering buy-to-let mortgages this year. Santander has also expressed an
interest in entering the market for non-professional landlords.

“Following our merger with Chelsea Building Society, we have an existing
buy-to-let mortgage book,” explains a spokeswoman for Yorkshire Building
Society. “We are currently working on the possibility of pursuing new
lending in this area.”

This has been welcomed as a positive move for a market that was badly
hit by the credit crunch, with lenders pulling out of the sector and the
number of products for landlords plummeting.

Now the availability of finance for buy-to-let properties is improving –
at a time when the prospects for buy-to-let investment look increasingly
attractive. With rents rising sharply over the past year on the back of
growing demand, experts believe this could be a good time to invest for
the long term.

But there are still very few options for buy-to-let investors with a
deposit of 20 per cent or less. According to Nigel Bedford of
Largemortgageloans.com, only three lenders – The Mortgage Works (TMW),
Clydesdale Bank and Kensington – offer up to 80 per cent of a property’s
value.

Kensington is only offering one product at 85 per cent loan to value: a
two-year fixed-rate mortgage at 5.99 per cent, with a 2.50 per cent fee.
It has relaxed its rental cover requirement – the annual rent as a
percentage of annual interest repayments – from 125 per cent to 120 per
cent.

“It has to be a welcome addition to the current range of buy-to-let
products on the market and opens up options for those keen to invest
without making such a big capital outlay required of many lenders,” says
David Hollingworth of London & Country, the mortgage brokers.

However, mortgage brokers warned that the new deal would not be suitable
for all buy-to-let investors.

In order for an investor to borrow the full 85 per cent, a property
would have to yield in excess of 6.1 per cent, Bedford says. Rental
properties in London are unlikely to achieve a yield as high as this.
However, experts say landlords with properties in cities such as
Nottingham, Liverpool and Manchester, where yields can be 6-9 per cent,
will find the deal very attractive.

Landlords will also need to watch out for the high reversion rate at the
end of the mortgage period, says Melanie Bien of Private Finance. Under
Kensington’s terms, borrowers will move on to a variable rate of 5 per
cent over Libor – the rate at which banks lend to each other – which
would currently give a rate of 5.75 per cent.

It’s taken a while but we finally have one lender, Kensington, who have dipped their toe into the 85% buy to let mortgage market. For a long time since the market collapsed in 2008 you needed a 25% or even 30% deposit to buy a property to let but recently deals needing just a 20% deposit have appeared and now one from Kensington which requires just a 15% deposit. It’s a two year fixed rate at 5.99% and is potentially available to both experienced and first time landlords.

Read more at Mike Jones’ invaluable mortgage blog here

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