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Marketwatch

All eyes will be on the Budget on Wednesday. Elsewhere, the mortgage market creaks slightly as good new business comes in.

Montlake Andrew MS blog 150

It is everyone’s favourite time of the year on Wednesday – Budget day.

I am sure that you, like me, are looking forward to what will no doubt be an action packed, gag filled presentation from our dear chancellor George Osborne.

Will it be a glorious overachievement or as exciting as watching for smoke coming out of a chimney?

Watch out for stamp duty changes, a Funding for Lending Scheme given more steroids than Lance Armstrong, new initiatives to encourage the property market and a tacit admission that John Maynard Keynes was right after all (and about more than in the end we are all dead) .

Will austerity be put to the sword in a swirling, cacophony of trumpets and much cheer? It seems unlikely so I expect dour disappointment instead.

Whatever is in there, hopefully there will be some positive moves to compliment the FLS and build on the surprisingly high lending figures put out by the FSA for 2012, saying that gross mortgage lending hit around £152bn last year.

If these figures are correct and we do get a 10 per cent rise everyone expects this year at least then we will be nudging over the £165bn figure in 2013 which would be most welcome.

In the markets, three-month Libor is stagnant at 0.51 per cent, while swap rates are generally looking a little indecisive.

  • 1-year money is up 0.01 at 0.465 per cent
  • 2-year money is unchanged at 0.59 per cent
  • 3-year money is unchanged at 0.68 per cent
  • 5-year money is down 0.01 at 1.025 per cent

Meanwhile, back in mortgage land, Abbey for Intermediaries’ latest seven day offering is a nifty 1.99 per cent two year fix up to 60 per cent LTV with a £1,495 fee and maximum loan size of £1m.

It is great to have Abbey back and its interest-only policy is now one of the more sensible and its large loan teams are also first class and highly recommended. But its affordability calculations take a lot of getting used to and underwriting communication could be improved.

NatWest has magically turned its 50 per cent LTV deals into 60 per cent LTV deals which is helpful, priced from 2.29 per cent over two years and 2.99 per cent over five years.

The excellent Clydesdale has reduced the product rates for its two and five-year deals, as well as its low-start and large loan products.

It is a lender I have been impressed with for its flexibility especially around the self-employed and contractors. It has also made its professional first-time buyer product available to second time buyers as well.

Clydesdale now joins Virgin Money, Woolwich, Abbey, Accord, Natwest, Nationwide and Coventry in offering five year fixed rates starting around the 2 per cent mark, which is great to see.

Halifax is also getting more competitive in the large loans sector which is great for all brokers fed up with having to explore the private banking arena. Private banks will always have a place but loans up to £2m should have a place in the mainstream arena which is better for all of us.

Accord has reduced its buy-to-let products, now available from 3.49 per cent with a free valuation and £250 cashback, while it has also announced that it is streamlining fees. This involves axing clearing house automated payment system charges, reducing valuation fees and getting rid of booking fees, but also introducing a new £130 mortgage application fee. All in all it seems less confusing and although it has now introduced a product switching fee, seems to reduce fees a smidgeon overall.

Platform has relaunched many of its products and is looking competitive these days whileWoolwich have cut rates on their 90 per cent four-year fix to 5.99 per cent.

Service wise, I have noticed a number of lenders beginning to creak a little which is concerning as business levels are up but still nowhere near where they could be.

I know many are working hard to address this but if things do continue to improve more staff and newer systems look like they will be needed sooner rather than later.

Heroes

West One Loans for embracing social media and taking to youtube.com and producing videos that help to provide more information around bridging loans.

Villains

The closure of Lloyds TSB Spearhead. A well used secret to many in England and a big loss to brokers in Scotland where you could chat over cases and get sensible lending decisions. We wish their excellent staff well.

swaps

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