The Council of Mortgage lenders recently reported that an amazing 71% of all mortages and remortgages in April 2006 were arranged on fixed rate terms, that’s 17% higher than the same period last year. The increasing attraction of fixed rate deals is a product of the attractive offers being made by lenders together with a desire by consumers to lock-in to the current low rates for as long as possible.
The balance shifted slightly towards new mortgages and away from remortgages, possibly a symptom of lenders making the benefits of remortgaging less attractive to existing borrowers – the recent increases in exit fees almost certainly a factor here. (That increase is currently under regulatory investigation by the way) First-time buyer mortgages grew in size slightly to an average of £106,400, that’s almost £12,000 higher than April last year. First buyers are now borrowing an average of 3.21 times their earnings, which is also slightly up on last month. The average mortgage payer now spends 16.2% of their income repaying their mortgage, slightly less than previously and probably caused, the Council says, by the increased take up of fixed rate deals.
There has also been a crop of new fixed rate mortgage deals where lenders are offering to fix rates for as long as 15 years. That sounds crazy until you work out that it indicates supreme confidence in the stability of the money markets lokking forward. Heartening information for all of us.
In my opinion all these mortgage factors are reaching worrying levels with people borrowing not only more and for longer, but are also committing to repayment figures that are higher proportions of their income than ever before. All this is driven by the spiralling increase in house prices over recent years and a general worry by some people that if they don’t get on the housing market now, they never will.