As I have started a weekly column for Mortgage Strategy, taking over the prestigeous Market Watch slot, I thought I would share this here as well as my standard posts.

It is hopefully a good insight into the Mortgage Industry, a bit of economics, latest lender news and rate updates, plus general musings.

Anyway, enjoy and as ever feedback is welcome.

So here we all are in 2012 and welcome to my inaugural Market Watch column. Stepping into the rather large shoes of Mr Cornell is more than a little daunting and I will do my best to honour the spirit of the column whilst offering my own strange spin on events and try to modernise a tad.

I apologise in advance to those I may upset, but as a working broker myself, yes my main job is still seeing clients, I suspect I will be nothing if not honest – it is nothing personal, yet!

As a lover of Tweeting (I have heard all the gags), if there is anything that really “grinds your gears” or good things that should be shared then please let me know by tweeting me and I shall endeavour to cover them.

Anyway, I am still a lover of some tradition so lets’ begin.

Since the last edition Swaps have eased off and up again slightly with LIBOR also increasing a smidgeon.

Three-month LIBOR is up at 1.09%.
1-year money is up 0.05% at 1.15%
2-year money is up 0.04% at 1.37%
3-year money is up 0.05% at 1.41%
5-year money is up 0.03% at 1.615%

So what have we got to look forward to in 2012? Well actually quite a lot. Don’t be put off by the doomsday brigade writing off the year before it has even started, we are not all living in caves and fashioning blunt instruments out of stones just yet. Mind you, a nice cave in South-West London would probably fetch at least £200,000 these days and solve a few issues.

Anyway, the point is that if we all talk negatively we only have ourselves to blame and let’s face it we have enough to contend with without fighting ourselves.

We now have the latest Mortgage Market Review paper which to be honest as brokers we should welcome. Obviously the recognition of the benefits of advice is a big step, but just having some direction should give us all something to work with. We may actually see more sensible policy decisions by lenders who had perhaps turned the pendulum too far worrying about possible retrospective FSA rules.

New lenders will help the market and we welcome Virgin Money into the fold, who I am sure will want to create some kind of splash other than sponsoring Newcastle United, (which seems to be working as Man Utd fans will know). Tesco and Castle Trust should also enter the fray amongst others and who knows, even HSBC may eventually use brokers, (you know it makes sense HSBC, we can help you)!

Buy To Let will continue to grow and remortgaging will begin to come back now we are starting to see rates mature onto higher variable rates once more.

Well done to Coventry who have kicked off the new year in style with 75% Buy-To-Let products and 90% residential products. You have to love their flexible fixes with free valuations and no penalties at all, with 5 year rates starting at 3.58%.

Watch out for Paragon and Mortgage Trust changes as well who are upping rates but offering some decent criteria enhancements.
Sorry, but Woolwich are still struggling with their Buy-To-Lets with cases stuck in the ether for an age and, to top it off their systems seem to have been down for 2 days. It is a shame as the products were good and Woolwich have worked hard on service in recent years. Lenders really need to understand the actual demand out there and plan accordingly.

I wish you all the best for 2012, have faith.

Hero of The Week
I’ll take the easy route this week, but well deserved to Jonathan Cornell. This ain’t an easy gig, as I am finding already, and he has represented our industry and himself with dignity and professionalism. The FSA will be a better place and our industry a little colder, (but with more biscuits to go round)!

Villain of The Week
All those who have written off 2012 before it has even started. We can’t control the Euro but we can control our attitude and how we present our arguments. It is not naivety to focus on the positive, whilst understanding the full picture.

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