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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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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30 January 2015

House price growth slowing but still plenty for borrowers to get excited about

The Land Registry is the latest index to show that house-price growth is slowing, with prices in England and Wales in the year to December rising by 7 per cent, down from 7.2 per cent in November. Nationwide found a similar picture in its latest survey with UK house prices rising by 0.3 per cent in January while the annual rate of growth slowed to 6.8 per cent.

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15 January 2015

Lenders embark on mortgage rate war

Anyone looking for a new mortgage in coming weeks is in for a treat with lenders slashing pricing on their fixed and variable rates in order to drum up new business.

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19 December 2014

Looking ahead to 2015

As far as the housing market is concerned, very little is likely to happen in 2015 until the General Election is out of the way.

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03 December 2014

Autumn Statement: Stamp duty reform

The long overdue reform of the antiquated slab system of stamp duty will result in a much fairer regime. The reforms will negate any scheme abuse where people buy just under a threshold to avoid a big jump in duty. 

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17 November 2014

Interest rate rise pushed back until end of 2015 at the earliest, says Bank of England

The Bank of England has indicated that interest rates may be held at 0.5 per cent at least until next autumn.

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22 October 2014

Lenders embark on mortgage rate war

Anyone in the market for a new mortgage in coming weeks is in for a treat with lenders slashing pricing on their fixed and variable rates. With two-year trackers available from 1.44 per cent and five-year fixes from just 2.59 per cent, there are some excellent deals to tempt borrowers.

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06 October 2014

Regulator sees sense on larger mortgages

Private banks will find it easier to lend to high net worth borrowers after the regulator changed the rules on high loan-to-income mortgages.

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19 September 2014

Gross lending rose in August, says CML

Despite talk of a slowing housing market, gross lending rose by 13 per cent year-on-year in August, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. Lenders advanced £18.6 billion, up from £16.4bn in the same month last year.

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