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Marketwatch – May 2012

Greece is the word this week, so is Spain for that matter, but there is nothing anyone can do about that.

At least the euro is in safe hands and those involved know what they are doing… er, hold on a sec.

Meanwhile, swaps increased across the board last week while LIBOR was still stubbornly clinging on. Three-month LIBOR is unchanged at 1.01%.

1-year money is up 0.05% at 1.105%
2-year money is up 0.05 at 1.38%
3-year money is up 0.02 at 1.41%
5-year money is up 0.1 at 1.565%

Much has happened in the mortgage market over the past week. Among the requests received for villains were the Financial Services Authority for the lack of new lenders given authorisation. It seems that at a time when new competition is needed the barriers are rising even higher.

Then there is HSBC, which has been forced into an embarrassing U-turn with its much-criticised solicitor’s panel. The experiment backfired. It has now done the sensible thing and will allow all Law Society accredited solicitors on its conveyancing panel.

Abbey has been in the news for chopping 140 fast-track brokers. While it should not be the case, this is an area fraught with misunderstanding and I support many of the networks asking to be taken off fast-track. The sooner it is done away with the better.

Lenders seem to be engaged in a review on which brokers they want to continue to deal with, posing another challenge to small firms.

But it is good that NatWest has expanded access to its corporate range to around 200 directly authorised firms representing around 1,000 individual brokers.

I was also pleased to see lenders sending criteria tips to brokers – thank you Nationwide for reminding me it can accept a new job start up to three months ahead.

There can be a probationary period, a different line of work or a gap in employment. It needs a reference to confirm the salary and that the position is permanent.

Also, Virgin Money is happy to accept applications from first-time landlords and also true first-time buyers on buy-to-let products.

On a lighter note, I was amused by comments from Nigel Stockton, financial services director at Countrywide, in his entertaining column last week.

I agree my photograph needs an upgrade and I respect comments like this from a man who paid so much for his teeth.

I was also interested to read about Countrywide’s difficulty in getting anyone in the government to take its calls. So Nigel, when I next sit down with housing minister Grant Shapps, I’ll pass on any messages you might have.

Finally a nice quote tweeted last week originally made by the late Austrian psychologist Viktor Frankl – “When we are no longer able to change a situation we are challenged to change ourselves”.

Heroes & Villains

Hero of the week

is Newcastle Building Society for its funds booking feature. In a climate of frequent rate changes, this is helpful. I believe Nationwide is the only other high street lender that provides this facility.

Villain of the week

Fast-track – I just don’t like it on principal. Whereas self-cert was a legitimate product which offered benefits for the right applicant, the fast-track process some firms offer just does not seem to hold any benefits for anyone.

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