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EU Commission Fines Rate-Rigging Banks

EU Commission Fines Rate-Rigging Banks

EU Commission shocked that competing banks were in collusion

The European Commission has fined eight banks – including RBS – a total of £1.4 Billion (GBP) for forming illegal cartels to rig interest rates. The cartels operated in markets for financial derivatives, which are products used to manage the risk of interest rate movements.

A number of banks were engaged in the rigging of interest rate products intended to reflect the cost of interbank lending in euros, while another group fixed prices for products based on the Japanese yen.

The rates are used to set the price of Trillions of dollars (USD) of products, including mortgages.

Some were involved in both markets and more than one cartel, including RBS, which was fined a total of £325 Million (GBP). The fines are the first ever penalties for interest-rate rigging by the EU.

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Mortgage Loan Approvals Increase

Mortgage Loan Approvals Increase

More “Help To Buy” Mortgage Lenders Announced

The number of mortgages given to first-time buyers increased by a third in the 12 months to August 2013 according to the latest data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), with new entrants to the property market accounting for 44% of all residential property purchases during the month.

The CML figures were published as Barclays became the latest high street lender to confirm it was signing up to the second part of the government’s Help to Buy scheme, which is designed to make more 95% mortgages available to first-time buyers, second steppers and home movers.

Barclays join Santander, RBS, Halifax and HSBC in confirming it will use the taxpayer-backed guarantee to make high Loan-To-Value (LTV) mortgages available for property purchasers, meaning that more than half of UK mainstream mortgage lenders are now signed up to provide more mortgages at higher loan to value ratios.

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Is Funding For Lending Working For First Time Buyers?

Is Funding For Lending Working For First Time Buyers?

FIRST-TIME buyer numbers are up by almost a quarter year-on-year, lenders said yesterday, amid signs that government efforts to encourage mortgage lending are finally percolating down to people with smaller deposits.

A total of 21,700 loans worth £2.7 Billion (GBP) were made available to first-time buyers in November 2012, one of the highest monthly totals in the last three years, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said.

These figures mean that first-time buyer numbers were up by 24% compared with a year earlier, and increased by 8% month on month.

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Getting a mortgage to purchase property saves money, according to Barclays, who’s research suggests that people will save almost £200,000 (GBP) over their lifetime by buying property rather than renting.

The bank put the average cost of renting a residential property over 50 years at £623,000 (GBP), compared to just £429,000 (GBP) for buying a property, paying a mortgage and maintaining home – making a difference of £194,000.

The Barclay’s study said that around 50% of expenditure goes on mortgage payments, with around 40% going on capital repayment and interest costs, over 50 years of home ownership.

Barclay’s head of mortgages Andy Gray said that whilst the initial cost of getting on to the property ladder “can be a big barrier” for people, due to high value of deposits now required, there are still clear long-term benefits.

As inflation rises, so does the value of owning a property. While rental prices rise and fall with inflation, once a residential mortgage is paid off, all a homeowner has to pay for is the maintenance of the property and annual insurance to protect it.

While it may be cheaper to rent in the short-term, over the long-term PRS rents will inflate and tenants will be no nearer to owning property, whereas after 25 years, a home buyer will own their home outright and have financial security in their retirement.

If only getting a mortgage was that easy…..

The Prime Minister David Cameron insists that the coalition Government’s plans to take a more pro-active role in the UK housing market is “absolutely right” in order to help struggling potential buyers to raise large deposits.

Speaking at a residential property construction site in Lewisham, Mr Cameron attempted to reassure people seeking mortgage advice, stating that the NewBuy Guarantee initiative will help “unblock” the housing market by providing 95% Loan-To-Value mortgages underwritten by homebuilders and the UK Government.

Three major mortgage providers have so far committed to the Government-backed NewBuy scheme.

Barclays, Nationwide Building Society and NatWest Home Loans intend to back the NewBuy scheme by offering products which will tie in with it. Santander and Halifax are also expected to begin offering similar mortgage products along the same lines at a later date.

The mortgage indemnity initiative will aim to help people invest in property even if they only have a deposit of 5% or 10%.

As well as helping people who are finding it tough to save towards 20% deposits, the project is designed to boost the construction sector by spurring demand for new-build properties.

First Time Buyers (FTB) looking to purchase homes in England worth up to £500,000 could be eligible for the scheme in the months to come. The Government will cover 5.5% of the value of each mortgage provided, while 3.5% will be covered by house builders.

Forecasts suggest that as many as 100,000 UK new build home buyers could gain mortgage funding through the scheme.

Mr Cameron said: “The problem today is we have lenders who are not lending so builders cannot build so the buyers cannot buy and it needs the government to step in and help unblock the market. The new scheme was absolutely right in attempting to lower the requirements to more affordable levels of between “£10,000 to £15,000” with the taxpayer and the construction industry underwriting the high loan-to-value (LTV) mortgages”.

However, as reported on “Spotlight” earlier this week, the scheme has already prompted heavy criticism from opposition parties.Read the full article here 

Labour’s shadow housing minister Jack Dromey was among the first to be openly critical of the mortgage indemnity scheme proposal, publicly stating that the Government needed to invest directly in the building of more new homes.

Some property industry pundits have labelled the scheme as a “gimmick” to boost the ailing UK construction sector.

Even some lenders remain fairly wary of the Government’s plans and are yet to sign up to the initiative, with only three major lenders signed up to take part so far.

Nonetheless, the Council of Mortgage Lenders has backed the scheme as “good news for home-buyers”.

Both LloydsTSB and RBS face running up more losses over the next three years, whilst Northern Rock has been downgraded by a ratings agency following its purchase by Virgin.

Standard & Poor’s downgrading has come partly because of Northern Rock’s ‘moderate’ likelihood of needing further taxpayer support.

Meanwhile, analysis by Barclays Capital says that taxpayer-backed Lloyds and RBS could be hit with £33bn of new losses, and face having to write down mortgages, other consumer loans and corporate debt.

RBS is 83% and Lloyds 41% owned by the taxpayer since the UK Government’s bail out of the UK banking system.

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Banks and building societies have made widespread changes to their UK mortgage rates in recent weeks, with a growing number of lenders raising rates on tracker loans as the escalating Eurozone debt crisis drives up the cost of funding these mortgages.

This week, Nationwide Building Society and Halifax – part of Lloyds Banking Group – became the latest high-street lenders to increase their tracker rates.

Halifax has upped the rates for tracker mortgages by as much as 0.30 percentage points, raising its two-year tracker from 3.04% to 3.34%.

It is available for loans up to 75% of a property’s value, with no fee.

Woolwich, Santander, Northern Rock, Accord & Barclays Wealth are among the other lenders to have raised their rates over the past month.

Not all mortgage rates are heading upwards.

At the same time as increasing several tracker rates, Nationwide Building Society cut the cost of some fixed-rate products – including its five-year fix, which was reduced from 3.69% to 3.59%.

Other mortgage lenders have eased their criteria and launched attractive products. On Wednesday, Barclays re-entered the 90% loan-to-value market, after it stopped offering these loans three years ago.

Coventry Building Society also launched a new range of fixed and capped rate products that come with no early redemption charges this week.

These are the current ‘best-buy’ mortgages deals available now.

Remortgages

While tracker rates have been going up, mortgage brokers say there are still a number of competitive deals available. Santander has a two-year tracker at 1.95% – Bank of England (BoE) base rate plus 1.45% – available up to 60% loan-to-value with a £1,995 fee. It comes with a free valuation and free legal work.

For those who want a longer-term tracker,

HSBC’s lifetime tracker at 2.49% – BoE base rate plus 1.99% – is a fabulous deal. It comes with no fees and no early repayment charges, which means borrowers can remortgage to a fixed-rate deal at any point during the mortgage term.

Fixed-rate deals remain cheap and have not seen any major rate movements. Leeds Building Society is still offering its 2year fix at 1.99%, available up to 75% loan-to-value (LTV), with a £1,999 fee.

Chelsea Building Society’s five-year fix at 3.29%, available up to 70% loan-to-value (LTV) with a £1,495 fee, is the market leading longer term fix.

First-time buyers: 90% deals

Barclays’ move to increase its maximum loan-to-value from 85 per cent to 90 per cent has provided first-time buyers with more options. According to Moneyfacts, the financial data provider, there are now 253 mortgages requiring only a 10% deposit, compared with 206 in October 2010 and just 101 in October 2009.

It is offering a three-year fix at 4.99% with no fee or a five-year deal at 5.49%, with a £499 fee. Its maximum loan size is £500,000.

Cambridge Building Society and Melton Mowbray Building Society are also offering five-year deals at 5.39%.

Large loans

Competition has increased in the large-loan market recently, with more high-street lenders offering these type of mortgages.

RBS Private Banking has a two-year tracker at 2.19% – BoE base rate plus 1.69% – available up to 50%loan-to-value, with a £999 fee.

NatWest has a two-year fixed-rate at 2.65%, available up to 60% loan-to-value, with a £999 fee.

Most wealthy borrowers will typically be better off opting for Barclays Wealth’s two-year tracker at 2.49%.”

Self-employed

Skipton Building Society has some of the most competitive deals for self-employed borrowers as it will consider retained profits in a limited company. It offers a two-year tracker at 1.98% – BoE base rate plus 1.48 percentage points – available up to 60% loan-to-value, with a £1,995 fee. It also has a two-year fix at 2.48%.

Read the Full FTSE article here

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