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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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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12 September 2014

Opportunity for borrowers as lenders cut fixed-rate mortgages

As we head into autumn, it is a great time to opt for a fixed-rate mortgage with a number of lenders reducing their two- and five-year deals in the past couple of weeks.

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01 September 2014

Bank of England unlikely to raise rates - for now

The hysteria surrounding the hiking of Bank base rate has subsided again, with the economic news since early August dampening down speculation.

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12 August 2014

Lending growth remains steady

Total gross lending in June grew by 6 per cent on the month to £17.9 billion, according to the Bank of England. The Council of Mortgage Lenders agreed that the market remains strong although was driven primarily by lending for house purchase rather than remortgaging.

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23 July 2014

Mortgage approvals rise despite tougher lending rules

Mortgage approvals rose in June, according to the British Bankers' Association, after four months of falls. This may come as a surprise as many agents are now talking of a cooling off in the housing market. However, the mortgage market remains busy, with many borrowers taking advantage of the cheap rates available.

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11 July 2014

Housing market cools in June, according to Halifax

Halifax reports that house prices dipped in June but despite this being the fourth monthly price fall since December, on the more reliable three-month average they rose by 2.3 per cent.

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26 June 2014

Bank of England targets stability

No sane person would disagree that interest rates will start ticking up at some point; the question is when. But when even the Governor of the Bank of England can’t make his mind up, it seems highly unlikely that the first rate rise in more than five years is imminent.

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18 June 2014

Mortgage lending continues to grow in April despite fears of interest rate rises

Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, has warned that ‘gradual and limited’ increases to interest rates are needed, which could happen sooner than initially thought. He has also suggested capping mortgages to ensure borrowers don’t overextend themselves.

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29 May 2014

Funding solutions for expats

Soaring property prices in pockets of London and the Home Counties are the source of much interest among expatriates in Singapore. On our recent visit, we encountered a real sense of not wanting to miss out.

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16 May 2014

Lending is on the rise despite tougher mortgage rules, according to the CML

The lending market continues to strengthen with loans to first-time buyers increasing by 24 per cent in the past year, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML). The combination of cheap finance and lenders with a real appetite to lend shows no signs of diminishing.

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30 April 2014

Getting a mortgage becomes trickier, making advice more important than ever

The Mortgage Market Review (MMR) finally went ‘live’ on Saturday. The new mortgage rules will take some of the heat out of the housing market but won’t ‘fix’ its problems, nor stop house prices from rising.

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22 April 2014

New mortgage rules set to cause little disruption, say mortgage lenders

The lending market continues to strengthen as a result of the combination of cheap finance and lenders with a real appetite to lend, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML). Gross mortgage lending rose to £15.4bn in March, up 4 per cent from February and 33 per cent from last year.

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11 April 2014

Slight dip in lending in February but annual growth strong, says CML

Lending to first-time buyers, home movers, remortgagors and landlords dipped slightly in February but rose compared with the same period a year ago, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).

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04 April 2014

Mortgage demand is on the up, as banks get ready to do more lending

With demand for mortgages increasing significantly, lenders are preparing to make more products available to borrowers in the second quarter of this year, according to the Bank of England’s credit conditions survey.

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28 March 2014

Bank of England concerns over borrowers overextending themselves

The Bank of England is concerned that too many borrowers are being offered dangerously large mortgages, according to a report in The Times.

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19 March 2014

SPF Private Clients comments on the Budget

Many of the housing measures in the Budget were leaked beforehand with the extension of the first phase of Help to Buy and the creation of 15,000 homes at Ebbsfleet. There could have been more specifically targeted at first-time buyers but Help to Buy is a big deal and is making such a difference to those struggling to get on the ladder that they can't claim to have been ignored.

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14 March 2014

Loans to first-time buyers up by 38 per cent

The number of first-time buyers increased substantially in January compared with a year ago, with a 38 per cent uplift in number of loans, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

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07 March 2014

New lending rules mean mortgages will be tougher to come by and advice essential

New mortgage rules – known as the Mortgage Market Review (MMR) - will be introduced on 26 April, with reports in the press suggesting that it will be impossible for some borrowers to get funding.

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26 February 2014

Loan options for self-employed improving but advice still essential

The number of people joining the ranks of the self-employed continues to rise yet this group remains one of the casualties of the credit crunch. Getting a mortgage has been difficult over the past few years if you are self-employed, as lenders have abolished self-certification mortgages. Those who aren’t PAYE have sometimes found it difficult to prove their income to the lender’s satisfaction.

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