Marketwatch – April 2012

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks reading the industry press. It’s almost as if we have rolled back the years.

It included controversial quotes from Michael Bolton, interesting remarks from Precise Mortgages’ Alan Cleary and Countrywide’s Nigel Stockton, plus a heavyweight discussion between PMS’ John Malone and Legal & General Mortgage Club’s Ben Thompson.

Then there is the multitude of new commentators breaking through via the social media and in particular Twitter, offering new points of view.

You may think it spurious, but I love the fact there seems to be a renewed passion in the industry and a determination to get a discussion going. But we have to be careful that the right message is put out. Heated discussions and considered comments are one thing, but overt headline-grabbing is far from helpful.

Swaps are still relatively unexciting while LIBOR continues its slow drip down. Three-month LIBOR is down at 1.02%.
1-year money is up 0.03% at 0.985%
2-year money is up 0.02 at 1.25%
3-year money is unchanged at 1.30%
5-year money is down 0.03% at 1.55%

In the national press there was some positive news, with several sources suggesting the economy is improving and at least one claiming the Olympics are having a positive effect in London.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors produced its least negative reading since June 2010, with buyer demand up. And Moneysupermarket.com revealed what we have known for a while – that average fixed rates are on the way up.

The average two-year fixed rate has risen to 4.15% up from 3.82% in October 2011, while five-year fixed rates hit a low in January with an average rate of 4.57% although this has crept up to 4.72%. Meanwhile, the average two-year tracker stands at 3.63%, up from its lowest level in August 2011 at 3.37%.

Such reports help brokers get the message to clients that they should be reviewing their options.

In terms of rates, it was another week of changes. Nationwide’s latest products have risen by between 0.1% and 0.2%. I wish all lenders would follow its excellent rate booking system. You can do an agreement in principle, then book the rate for £99 which is valid for 90 days. This gives you time to get the application together and avoids the panic of further rate changes.

Clydesdale Bank is the latest to provide an approved solicitors panel, which has provoked much debate after HSBC’s decision to slash its panel to just 43. To be fair to Clydesdale, given fraud levels I understand its decision and unlike HSBC, it has still maintained a substantial choice of providers.

Leeds Building Society has moved away from income multiples to use an affordability calculator which has always seemed a more sensible method of assessing clients’ borrowing capacity.

heroes&villains

Hero of the week
A new breed of voices in our industry emanating from social media and blog sites, igniting passion for the job, educating consumers and offering a different set of opinions from grass roots level.

Villain of the week
Lenders that are not doing enough to help small to medium-sized firms. If the economy is going to recover they are the lifeblood. A situation where too many are forced to remortgage just to pay staff should not be allowed to continue.