Hallelujah

I was feeling melancholy all weekend, perhaps because I found out that one of my favourite songs is about to be ruined by whoever wins the X factor, and therefore had it going through my head over and over again.

Before the new version comes out check out either the original of “Hallelujah” by the cheery Leonard Cohen, or, my personal favourite – the version that I can’t stop singing – by Jeff Buckley from his legendary album “Grace”.

It seems an apt song for these troubled times – although aficionados out there will know about the real sexual nature of the song !

Anyway, lending figures released from the Bank of England today show that mortgage lending is at an all time low, with just 32,000 mortgages approved last month, 1,000 fewer than in the previous month.

This is no real surprise as many people are opting for the wait and see approach.

With interest rates set to be cut again by the Bank this week, (I expect another full point), people unsure as to how much further house prices have got to fall and issues around job security, many will wait until early next year before they make any further decisions.

December’s figures will no doubt be even lower.

Those looking for a silver-lining will be aware that there are many people who will need to act in the first quarter of next year and there has been a mental shift in the minds of the larger investors who now believe that the next 3 to 6 months is the best time to take advantage of the opportunities on offer.

Full marks to RBS for relaxing its repossession rules. Having six months to get their finances into shape will certainly help those borrowers struggling with their monthly repayments.

This shows that lenders don’t have to be trigger happy and that there are other options. Let’s hope other banks follow suit.

While this is great news for consumers, one potential downside is that it could prevent the speed at which the housing market reaches its natural bottom and begins to recover.

The next 3 months are key for many, and those that make it through will indeed be singing Hallelujah !