Mortgage Musings from a lockdowned broker!

It has been a busy start to the year at House and Holiday Home Mortgages Ltd. Enquiries and applications remained high throughout January. All whilst the team is working hard on the business, as well as in it. 

This morning I read reports of a stamp duty holiday extension. Just a rumour perhaps but this does seem a little like kicking that can on down the road again. Does this mean more sellers and buyers will join the log jam now hoping to get a deal done by the end of May? That does not solve the problem to my mind. 

A long-term solution to stamp duty needs to be sought. The government want and need the tax revenue, but they should be light on their feet and allow the housing market to move along steadily. Having older people not wanting to downsize because the tax to be paid on a future purchase is too high just causes stagnation and inertia and helps no one. 

A word on lockdown, if I may. 

People said after lockdown 1 that many aspects of that time would be the new norm. I didn’t agree then and I certainly don’t agree now. This 6-week stretch has been really tough for most. No wine in the garden, fewer zoom social meetings, and no novelty. 

A special word to all of you home schooling. I take my hat off to you, as I know from many conversations just how tough it has been. I think teachers will be much more valued going forward! Joe and Lauren have to home school me most days as I struggle with one drive, zoom, teams or my pesky single-minded scanner! 

Thoughts on the market…

The number of house purchasers has declined for sure. This will be due to the original 31 March stamp duty looming, people abiding by lockdown rules and not wishing to leave home and maybe the prospect of a shrinking economy is having an effect now. 

Contrary to that we still are talking to a lot of people who want to move in lifestyle type changes. Not a happy subject, but I am sure separation lawyers will be very busy when the country starts to reopen. 

On what we term the professional side, the Holiday Let and Buy to Let market is buoyant for us. Lots of enquiries and applications to deal with. Staycation is here to stay!  

Final thought on this subject; if your mortgage deal is coming to an end but you think circumstances have worked against you so you will not be able to remortgage to a new deal, please don’t lose heart. Most lenders offer good product transfer products, and your broker will talk you through the whys and wherefores of how that will work. 

What are lenders up to these days? 

Well, let’s give them 10/10 for effort. 

We are finally back to a decent quorum of lenders offering 90% loan to value mortgages. This is positive for us all. First time buyers can feel more confident again. 

Mortgage rates remain attractive. I noticed quite a few reductions last week in rate. Lenders want to help and are doing their level-best in difficult busy times. One or two lenders even answer that phone straight away. Thank you! 

Others are only contactable by text chat which is a bit like bringing apollo 13 back by WhatsApp at times. 

Let’s give praise to the valuers for soldiering on and I know from conversations with solicitors they are doing their best in very difficult circumstances. 

We are delighted to welcome Craig Bryce to the HHH Adviser team. 

Craig has a great deal of experience in the Insurance marketplace and has the attributes to be a really good adviser. We are already enjoying working with him. 

It makes me so proud to see how Joe has learnt his craft to become a very good adviser in quick time. I will be equally proud to see Craig do as well too. More new advisers will follow as we build the team and brand. Joe will not allow me to rest or retire for a good few years yet! 

I leave you with a salutary tale about the advantages of homeworking. 

Whilst I wrestled with a lender’s helpline on Friday morning, I could hear banging from another part of HHH HQ! Mrs S had locked herself in the smallest room. I did consider leaving her there, but for a small fee I freed her and thought it a good job I wasn’t in a office 30 miles away.

Keep the faith readers. Things will surely get better as the much-heralded vaccine campaign bears fruit.