Lenders fight to cut mortgage rates

Lenders fight to cut mortgage rates

The battle between lenders to chop down the mortgage rates on offer has intensified, with a company unveiling a new five-year deal with a record low rate of under 2%.

On Monday, HSBC said it will launch a five-year fixed-rate mortgage with a rate of 1.99%. Experts said this is the lowest rate deal of its type that they have ever seen on the market.

However, borrowers must have a 40% deposit to take out the deal, which also comes with a booking fee of £1,499.

Charlotte Nelson, a spokeswoman for financial information website Moneyfacts, whose records go back to 1988, said: "This 1.99% deal is the first five-year fixed-rate mortgage to be launched below 2% and is the lowest on record that Moneyfacts.co.uk has seen."

According to Moneyfacts' records, the average rate on a five-year fixed rate mortgage lenders are offering across all deposit sizes is now 3.55%, having fallen from 4.04% a year ago. Five years ago, the average five-year fix came with a rate of 5.87%.

Ms Nelson continued: "The competition to be the lowest in the mortgage market shows no signs of stopping and is great news for borrowers.

"Moneyfacts.co.uk has seen 15 providers cut rates across their ranges in the past seven days alone. Lenders want to appear in the 'best buys' so they are constantly reducing rates to remain competitive."

Ms Nelson said when looking for a fixed-rate mortgage deal, borrowers need to consider not just the rate but the whole package attached to the mortgage, including any fees, which can add significantly to the overall cost of the home loan.

Experts have predicted the Bank of England base rate is likely to remain at ultra-low levels for some time yet, keeping the cost of borrowing cheap.

A recent Bank of England credit conditions survey of banks and building societies found that mortgage availability is set to increase further in the coming months.

Lenders told the Bank they expect demand for mortgages for house purchase to increase in the coming three months and that they have become more willing to lend to people with deposits under 10%.

Other mortgage lenders which have been cutting their rates recently include Tesco Bank, which said it is offering some of its lowest ever rates, and Yorkshire Building Society.

Yorkshire Building Society currently has a two-year fixed-rate deal for people with a 35% deposit at a rate of 1.18%, which it said is the lowest rate it has ever offered.

The deal comes with a fee of £1,369. It also offers a 1.29% two-year fixed rate for people with a 35% deposit with a lower product fee of £845.

Meanwhile, Norwich and Peterborough Building Society is offering a 1.64% two-year fixed rate with a £195 product fee to borrowers with a 35% deposit.

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Lenders fight to cut mortgage rates

In Scotland, Edinburgh is seen as a city with huge growth potential. In 2014, prices in Edinburgh were up 10% in a post referendum boom that shows little sign of slowing down.

Local agents are not expecting quite such stellar growth for the next 12 months, but they think price rises will be well above the average predicted for the whole country.

Rightmove named this as the area where it expects house prices to grow the most over the next five years. It says that over this period there will be a huge number of people moving out of London in order to afford to get onto the property ladder. They want a reasonable commute combined with plenty of attractions in the local area, and Southampton offers all this. With relatively affordable housing stock, it's a prime candidate for growth.

Luton was Rightmove's candidate for the second biggest house price rises over the next five years. It emphasised that this isn't a mater of opinion, it is the result of crunching the data.

Luton is another major beneficiary of the move out of London, and while it is arguably not as attractive a place to live as Southampton, it's only 23 minutes into central London - which rivals some of inner London's commuter times. With average prices of £179,368, it's clearly a far more affordable option, and the area has already started to show signs of a boom.

This was the third area suggested by Rightmove. As with Southampton, it is well positioned for London commuters, and also has huge local attractions.

A survey last year asked young professionals to name the place they would most like to live, and Brighton and Hove were the only areas that appeared on the list outside London.

One of the reasons it's not higher up the list is that houses are already on the pricey side, with an average cost of £338,956 - up 13% in the past year alone.

There may be few people who grow up with the dream of living in Swindon, but the electrification of the rail line to London will bring travel times down across the West Country, so Swindon becomes part of the outer commuter area.

Given that the average property costs £168, 968, it's easy to see why Swindon will be a popular option for commuters on a tight budget.

Bath is also going to benefit from electrification of the line, because the commute to London will fall to a manageable 70 minutes. The beauty of the city - along with a vibrant social and cultural life - makes it a clear choice for more long-distance commuters.

Of course, with an average asking price of £374,617, it's not a tremendously cheap place to buy, but the geography of the city restricts development, so these prices are expected to rise still further.

Property Frontiers says that the booming house prices in Oxford are set to get even higher. At the moment, travel to London takes 60 minutes, but this will reduce even further in 2016 when the line is electrified. Prices in the most desirable parts of the centre aren't much cheaper than London.

However, further out there are pockets of affordability, and when the Water Eaton station opens in 2015 it will open up areas to the north of the city too.

Manchester has seen enormous property price rises over the last couple of years, and Property Frontiers expects this to continue into 2015.

Other commentators are expecting the growth to slow over the next few years, especially given the gains made since 2012. However, demand for properties remains buoyant, and with the growth of the local economy, price rises seem inevitable.

Rising prices in London have pushed buyers further and further out of the centre, so estate agents are now claiming zone three as 'the new zone 2'.

Savills believes that the biggest gains over the next five years will be the less glamorous districts - putting the South and East in the frame. Gritty areas that could benefit include Ladywell, Streatham and Catford in the south, and Leytonstone, Forest Gate and Walthamstow in the east.

Cambridge could also perform well. It has already had house prices lifted by the growth of tech companies to the north of the city, and the arrival of pharmaceutical headquarters will help push prices up further.

In 2016 a new rail service from the city to the science park will keep prices rising, and beyond the opportunities presented by the local economy, Cambridge is also part of the 'outer commute' area of London, which Savills expects to shoot up in value over the next five years.


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