Rock-bottom mortgage rates to disappear

Responding to increasing fears that the UK could be on the edge of another housing bubble, The Bank of England took steps at the end of November to quash the increasing tide of new mortgages.

Concerns around any new bubble in the housing market have been growing since The Treasury released forecasts that house prices could increase by up to 10% in 2014, and The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) reported a third quarter increase of 32% in London-based first-time buyer lending, compared to the third quarter of 2012.

Taking into account these factors, The Bank of England formally announced an end to their support of the Funding for Lending scheme, hoping to reduce the amount of low-interest mortgages being granted. The scheme, which allows banks to pass on cheap credit to consumers, will come to an end in the New Year, with banks instead being incentivised to lend more to small businesses.

For consumers, this change had little impact during December, although movement and action may well be appropriate in the New Year.

For those whose mortgage is almost at an end, taking advantage of a remortgage whilst cheap rates are still available may seem like a sound course of action. Indeed, for clients who are currently considering a mortgage move, or who are looking at a potential new property purchase, it may well be the case that moving sooner rather than later could result in a wider range of options, including the cheaper rates still currently available from many mortgage providers.

Discussing the change in policy and the future of the housing market, a Treasury statement noted that ‘the housing market is picking up and house price inflation appears to be gaining momentum. As a result there is no longer a need for the [Funding for Lending scheme] to provide further broad support to household lending.’

Bank of England chairman, Mark Carney, commented that The Bank ‘did not see an immediate threat coming from the housing market but we are concerned about the prospective evolution of the housing market. The concern is where this could go. We definitely see some short-term momentum.’