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SVR rise casts dark shadow

Last week’s Mortgage Strategy Awards, the 10th ceremony since the magazine’s launch in 2001, was another fantastic event.

With just under 1,000 guests in attendance, both people numbers and noise levels were up on the previous year – a sign that confidence in the market is slowly rebuilding.

But the mood among some in the market was of concern. Despite widespread praise for the last Mortgage Market Review consultation paper’s relative restraint, actions from lenders over the last month have been anything but, as we can see in this week’s cover feature looking at changes to interest-only criteria.

With the top five lenders making life a lot harder, some people at the awards were concerned about the effect it was having on other lenders, specifically the mutual sector. With many already struggling to maintain service levels it was hardly surprising to hear last week that Accord Mortgages was pulling its residential range, blaming unprecedented demand in recent weeks.

The concern is that if the large lenders do pull back from the market en masse we could see the dire predictions of lower gross lending that were made for 2011 come true in 2012.

With the first-time buyer Stamp Duty holiday unlikely to be extended it could be a rough year for house purchases as consumers find it even harder to get on the housing ladder.

Obviously Halifax’s decision to increase its SVR last week to 3.99% is bad news for existing borrowers. But while many will be trapped in their properties, unable to move due to house price falls or lack of comparable products, for a few it could be an opportunity to attempt a remortgage.

This will be a dark cloud for many but it could have a silver lining for the few.

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