Mortgage availability hits 11-month high

Rozi Jones
8th February 2021
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"Those with 10% deposit or equity might be especially pleased to note that this tier has, for a second month, seen the largest uplift in availability."

Overall mortgage availability rose for the fourth consecutive month to 3,215 – the highest since March 2020 (5,222), according to the latest figures from Moneyfacts.

Since October 2020, total product choice has increased by 42% – the largest four-monthly rise we have recorded since 2007. With 88 more deals on offer compared to last month, the 90% LTV tier saw the largest monthly rise in availability. At 248 products now available, this represents a significant 386% growth in availability since October 2020.

The average two-year fixed rate for all LTVs rose for the seventh consecutive month, and the five-year equivalent for the second month running, however, the rises were of only 0.01% and 0.02% respectively. Over the last two months, each of these averages has risen by just 0.04%. Considering that between September and October 2020 these rates increased by 0.14% and 0.13% individually, Moneyfacts says this may indicate a levelling off and potential stability returning to the market.

The average shelf life for all mortgage deals, which had been static at 28 days for the previous three months, has now risen to 40 days – another sign the market may be settling down.

Eleanor Williams, finance expert at Moneyfacts, said: “Recent HMRC data reflects the boom in activity in the mortgage sector at the end of 2020, with stamp duty transactions in the final quarter of last year surging to over 40% higher than the previous quarter, as those rushing to take advantage of the temporary holiday in stamp duty and those unleashed after the enforced shutdown flooded the market. This is echoed in our data where, following four months of improvement, at 3,215 products, overall choice has now returned to the highest level recorded since March 2020.

“Further positivity for potential borrowers, regardless of the level of equity or deposit they have, may come from the fact that this improvement in choice has been recorded across the LTV tiers (with the exception of 95% LTV, where the five remaining deals are specialist products). Those with 10% deposit or equity might be especially pleased to note that this tier has, for a second month, seen the largest uplift in availability. With products at this level often favoured by first-time buyers and traditionally being seen as higher risk for providers, willingness to extend lending in this risk bracket could be an indication that lenders have confidence in the sector, despite ongoing, wider economic uncertainty. This is echoed by the average two and five-year fixed rates at 90% LTV seeing the largest fall of all the lending tiers, reducing by 0.09% and 0.07%.

“At 2.53%, the two-year fixed overall average rate is now 0.11% higher year-on-year, while the five-year equivalent at 2.73% is equal to where it sat in February 2020. Therefore, while these rates have risen again, the increases are of just 0.01% and 0.02% this month, which may be a sign of the start of some stability in the market, especially when compared to the drastic monthly increases witnessed over the course of last year.

“After three months at a record low of 28 days, the shelf life for mortgage products has risen to 40 days, giving would-be borrowers a much better chance of securing their chosen deal before it is withdrawn. This, coupled with overall average rates remaining quite static and availability continuing to improve, could imply the mortgage market is now the most stable it has been since the onset of the pandemic last year.”

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