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Marketwatch – March 2012

I thought I would start writing this at 11.45pm which gave me a few minutes before joining the other night owl brokers in a hunt for Woolwich funds.

Swaps have risen in a sign of solidarity to lenders increasing rates, while LIBOR has remained stoically stable.

Three-month LIBOR is unchanged at 1.04%.
1-year money is up 0.06% at 0.98%
2-year money is up 0.09% at 1.29%
3-year money is up 0.13% at 1.39%
5-year money is up 0.16% at 1.69%

If a week is a long time in politics, in the mortgage industry it’s an absolute age.

Suffice to say I have had more than a fair share of tweets about Woolwich’s tranche management system, which has seen brokers trying to book funds in the midnight hour and having as much luck as getting Olympics tickets.

I stand by last week’s decision to pick Woolwich as hero of the week as there is much it is doing right – it has shaved its buy-to-let rates, supported the NewBuy Guarantee scheme and introduced an 80% LTV tier on its Future Fix product.

While I understand and approve of its tranche management system, seemingly cutting the amount available to brokers and forcing them to stay up until midnight only to see their clients walk into a branch the next day and secure the funds easily is a kick in the teeth.

At least the timing could be changed for a new tranche to start at a more reasonable hour.

Speaking of NewBuy, a mention should also go to Nationwide for offering it through brokers as such schemes at 95% LTV need advice. This makes NatWest’s decision to go direct frustrating.

The Financial Services Authority’s comments on small lenders looking to help first-time buyers with small deposits bringing out innovative products are a little strange.

As long as the products follow sensible lending and affordability procedures, surely innovation should be encouraged? How else are small lenders meant to compete with the top six? Targeting innovation as a concern is in itself a major concern.

And on to product news. It was interesting that Yorkshire and Clydesdale banks increased their SVRs as these may be the first lenders to do so even though their SVRs were not that low – a worrying sign.

Meanwhile, it’s good to see ING Direct reducing rates again on its two-year fix at 60% LTV and its 80% LTV five-year fixed rate.

All Types of Mortgages’ retirement mortgage looks interesting and there is a definite gap in the market for a decent product for this group.

BM Solutions has released attractive buy-to-let products including a good deal at 75% LTV at 4.99% with a flat fee of £1,995 available up to £500,000.

Right, now what was I going to do? Hold on, it’s quarter past midnight – nooooooo!

Heroes & Villains
Hero of the week
Nationwide for maintaining good service where others are struggling and also supporting NewBuy via brokers. It has consistently supported the purchase market and intermediaries.

Villain of the week
My alarm clock. Why am I targeting this humble gadget? For the simple reason that it failed to go off to give me a chance to book Woolwich’s rates. This means I have to stay up again to try to grab the deals I am after.

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