April 2009

Some relevant comments on the UK Budget

Michael Coogan, director general of the Council Of Mortgage Lenders:

“The most important element of this Budget for the mortgage market over the long term may prove to be the new asset backed securities guarantee scheme. This potentially offers an opportunity to restart the capital market funding for mortgages that will be a crucial factor in delivering an adequate supply of mortgage credit.”

Gillian Charlesworth, RICS Director of External Affairs:

“The Chancellor has recognised the need for assistance to the housing market as essential to helping Britain’s economic recovery. Government action to support mortgage lending should help translate buyer interest, which has picked up in recent months, into actual sales. Additional funding for HomeBuy Direct and extending the stamp duty holiday should also encourage those wishing to get on the housing ladder. Measures announced by the Chancellor will help move towards a sustainable and vibrant housing market for the future.”

Ian Potter, operations manager of The Association of Residential Letting Agents:

“Yet again Gordon Brown’s administration has wasted an opportunity to improve the quality of stock of lettings property by failing to incentivise landlords through tax relief on labour and materials. Not only would this have helped to stimulate the market, particularly in the construction sector, but it would also have provided the greater standards of rented accommodation that this country desperately needs.”

Source: The Rat & Mouse

Mortgage lending up, a little

According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders there has been a 16% rise in March, but this is to be expected in Spring time.

Gross mortgage lending was an estimated £11.5 billion in March, a 16% rise from £9.9 billion in February but a 52% decline from £24.2 billion in March 2008.

Source: Council of Mortgage Lenders

Spring bounce continues as prices find their floor

For the third consecutive month new sellers have raised their average asking prices, this
time by 1.8% (£3,996). It could be argued that one or two months of rises is the result of
traditional spring optimism and volatility caused by low volumes, but three months in a row
and the largest rise for 14 months may indicate that we have finally reached a price floor
and confidence is starting to return.

But there are plenty of causes for caution… mortgages approvals still historically very low.

Source: Rightmove

UK housing market stabilising – RICS

The housing market is showing signs of stabilising, albeit at very low levels, with average sales up slightly in March and a smaller majority of estate agents still reporting falling prices, according to a leading survey.

The monthly findings from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors show that the number of property sales per surveying agency stopped falling in March, with the average in the three months to March standing at 9.7, compared with 9.6 in the three months to February.

Source: Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

HBOS opens door to 100% mortgages

Banks have begun to ease their ban on homeowners who borrowed more than the value of their property, in a sign that lending criteria may be beginning to ease.

For the first time in more than a year, HBOS part of Lloyds Banking Group, is offering to lend homeowners 100 per cent mortgages.

source: www.ft.com/uk

Bank of England holds rates at 0.5%

The Bank of England’s monetary policy committee agreed on Thursday to hold interest rates steady for the first time since last September and maintained its commitment to buy up to £150bn in gilts and corporate bonds.

The decision to keep interest rates at 0.5 per cent was widely expected, after rates had been cut by a total of 4.5 percentage points in the six meetings of the MPC since September.

The move comes amid fears that further rate cuts would hit banks’ spreads and profitability, which could affect their ability to lend, and that they might not be passed on.

The committee also agreed to continue with the programme of quantitative easing – creating central bank reserves mainly to buy up gilts – that it began after the last meeting.

Source: www.ft.com

UK Mortgage Market Picking Up

Michael Coogan of the UK Council of Mortgage Lenders gave an interesting interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning about the welcome signs of life in the UK mortgage market.

Essentially HSBC has cut mortgage rates; and there now seems to be a willingness from an increasing number of lenders to increase their loan to values. Announcements have been made by Northern Rock, Lloyds, RBS and HSBC. HSBC has made £1bn available for first time buyers.

Listen to the interview here:


Europe Concerned Over Sterling Slide

The pound’s slide against the euro has begun to trigger concerns on the continent that the UK is seeking to gain a competitive advantage over its European Union partners.

Sterling has fallen by more than 25 per cent on a trade-weighted basis since the autumn of 2007, raising the question as to whether Britain is letting its currency fall to help its exporters at a time when the eurozone is falling more deeply into recession.

Brian Lenihan, the Irish finance minister, in January directly accused the UK of running a policy of “competitive devaluation”, putting other countries under “immense pressure”.

As the pound has stabilised a little in recent months, the Bank of England now sees the benefits of a lower currency, not in rising exports but in a rapid fall in imports contributing positively to economic growth.

Source: www.ft.com

Toughest Budget in the History of Ireland

Brian Lenihan the finance minister delivered the toughest budget in the history of the state. The main points include:

– €3 billion in tax rises and spending cuts
– Doubling the income and health levies
– Cutting child benefit

Typically a person earning €100,000 per annum will pay an extra €333 per month into the governments coffers.

In other news Moody’s increased its expectation of losses on Irish bank loan portfolios due to continued deterioration in real estate prices, the likelihood of more corporate defaults and the erosion in residential loan performance.

Straightened times indeeed.