Market comment

Mark Harris

Mark Harris
Chief Executive

SPF is regularly asked to comment on all aspects of the mortgage and property market. We are highly quoted in the national, regional and trade press by journalists seeking our opinion on all manner of subjects. If you require any commentary, case studies or 'best buy' mortgage rates, please contact Melanie Bien at Bien Media on 07875 175357 or email

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12 February 2016

Buying at auction - why it’s vital to get your finance lined up beforehand

Investors keen to secure a quick property purchase, perhaps in order to complete before 1 April and avoid paying higher stamp duty, may see buying at auction as the answer.

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02 February 2016

Help to Buy London launches

This week has seen the much anticipated launch of London Help to Buy. With property prices in the capital continuing to rise, this scheme is being viewed by some as the saviour of the London first-time buyer.

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27 January 2016

Mortgage lending continues to rise as borrowers take advantage of cheap rates

Gross mortgage lending totalled £138 billion last year, an increase of six per cent compared with the previous 12 months, according to the British Bankers’ Association.

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22 January 2016

Now is not yet the time to raise interest rates

The Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, announced this week that ‘now is not yet the time to raise interest rates’ because of the weakening outlook for the economy. 

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15 January 2016

Lending up 27 per cent year-on-year

Lending in November was 27 per cent higher than a year ago at £20.5bn, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. This was the highest lending level in the month of November since 2007, although represented a 6 per cent drop compared with October.

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06 January 2016

New Year new mortgage?

The start of a new year is as good a time as any to take a look at your finances and consider whether you could be paying less for big-ticket items, such as your mortgage.

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17 December 2015

Homeowner and landlord activity continues autumn rise

October saw the mortgage market gathering some real momentum, with increases in lending for first-time buyers, home movers, those remortgaging and landlords, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. After a slow start fuelled by general election uncertainty, it is proving to be a back-loaded year, with November and December continuing to be busy.

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02 December 2015

Barclays to increase rental cover ratio

Barclays has increased its rental cover ratio from 125 to 135 per cent in response to cuts in tax relief announced in the Summer Budget, and it’s likely to be the first of many buy-to-let lenders to do so. We are getting to the stage where buy-to-let is going to become a 50 per cent loan-to-value (LTV) product in the south-east and London at least, taking the buy-to-let investor into the same space as a seasoned landlord.

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25 November 2015

Autumn Statement: An aggressive attack on buy-to-let

The Autumn Statement will be remembered as a really aggressive attack on the buy-to-let investor. The government delivered a staggering kick in the teeth for landlords, with its poorly worded announcement that stamp duty would rise: not a 3 per cent hike but an additional 3 per cent. It is a significant increase and could have a devastating impact on the buy-to-let market.

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10 November 2015

Bank of England signals no rate rise until 2017

Interest rates may not rise until 2017, according to the Bank of England’s quarterly inflation report. The Bank commented that even if base rate did not rise until early 2017, consumer price index (CPI) inflation would barely rise above its 2 per cent target – so it was in no hurry to raise the cost of borrowing.

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19 October 2015

Interest-only mortgages return

NatWest has started offering interest-only mortgages again after a three-year absence from the market. However, the lender is imposing restrictions: borrowers must earn £100,000 excluding bonuses and have a repayment plan in place.

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06 October 2015

Wising up on buy-to-let

The Summer Budget delivered a blow to many landlords and potential buy-to-let investors, with tax changes that make the investment rather less appealing to higher-rate taxpayers than in the past.

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21 September 2015

Strongest August for mortgage lending since 2007

Gross mortgage lending reached £20 billion in August, the strongest August since before the financial crisis, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

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07 September 2015

Remortgaging - why now may be time to take the plunge

The number of people remortgaging is finally edging upwards, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. Record low interest rates – with base rate stuck at 0.5 per cent for more than six years – mean many borrowers have lacked the motivation to remortgage.

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06 August 2015

Super Thursday: rate rise fears ease

The Bank of England has kept interest rates at a record low of 0.5 per cent for more than six years, and looking at today’s data - the interest rate announcement, latest Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) minutes and the quarterly inflation report - that isn’t going to change for the foreseeable future.

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31 July 2015

Buy-to-let - still a good investment?

Now that the dust has settled following the Budget, it is worth clarifying a couple of changes which will affect some of those who have invested in UK property, or who plan to do so.

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20 July 2015

Preparing for an interest rate rise. How will it affect you?

After Mark Carney hinted last week that interest rates could rise before the end of the year, the era of ultra low mortgages may soon be coming to an end.

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08 July 2015

Summer Budget

It is hard to argue with the government’s claim that changes to mortgage interest relief for buy-to-let - the amount landlords can claim as relief will be set at the basic rate of tax - currently 20 per cent - are fair, helping level the playing field among investors and first-time buyers who don’t receive any such tax relief. Even so, it is a kick in the teeth for the higher-rate taxpayer who has a buy-to-let mortgage, or worse still, several.

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03 July 2015

Lenders review interest-only mortgages

Some lenders are making it easier to get an interest-only mortgage for the first time since the crackdown on this type of lending following the financial crisis.

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16 June 2015

Mortgage lending down 10 per cent on last year

Caution in the housing market prevailed during April, with lending at a similar level to March but down 10 per cent on the same month last year, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

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05 June 2015

Getting yourself mortgage ready

Hardly a week goes by without another rock-bottom mortgage rate being launched as lenders aggressively compete for business. Subsequently, we are often asked how borrowers can ensure they qualify for the cheapest products.

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29 May 2015

Mortgage approvals rising significantly

There has been much talk of a pre-election lull in the upper echelons of the housing market but in the mainstream it was ‘business as usual’ with mortgage approvals rising significantly in April, according to the British Bankers’ Association.

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15 May 2015

Swap rates tick up but mortgage deals remain competitive

Whatever your political persuasion, one positive outcome of the general election was certainty. Markets tend to prefer this to not knowing what is going on, and the housing market is no different.

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30 April 2015

House purchase approvals trend upwards as market picks up

House purchase approvals are trending upwards with higher demand seen in the first quarter of the year. While numbers are down on the same month last year for house purchases and remortgaging, according to the British Bankers’ Association, that was a frenzied time for the market and we now see a more considered phase, which is also likely to be more sustainable.

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23 April 2015

The sun is shining on buy-to-let

Figures released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) show that the number of buy-to-let loans in February was up 11 per cent compared to February 2014. The 15,900 loans represented £2.2bn of lending, an increase of 16% compared to February 2014.

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07 April 2015

What's in store for interest rates

With the consumer prices index falling to 0 per cent, its lowest level since records began, there has been plenty of speculation that a cut in interest rates is required to bring inflation back into line with the Government's 2 per cent target.

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22 March 2015

The Budget: Will the Help to Buy ISA be the answer for struggling first-time buyers?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in the Budget that there would be a new individual savings account (ISA) to help first-time buyers onto the housing ladder.

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11 March 2015

More flexible pension pots could fuel buy-to-let boom

The relaxation of pension rules from next month could fuel a buy-to-let boom as the over-55s take advantage of more flexible pension pots. While in reality many will find that their pension savings are too small to enable them to make significant property investment, interest in the rental sector continues to grow apace.

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03 March 2015

Spring is in the air – and it’s a good time to consider remortgaging

With a general election looming, there has been a slowdown in new property purchases as many would-be buyers delay making decisions until the outcome is known. The Council of Mortgage Lenders reports a dip in lending in January, an 11 per cent drop on the same month last year and the lowest figure since April 2013.

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18 February 2015

First-time buyers at highest level in seven years

Government schemes such as Help to Buy and lenders’ willingness to lend at higher loan-to-values contributed to the highest number of first-time buyers in seven years, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

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