Marketwatch – January 2012

Swaps continued on their slight downward trajectory last week, with LIBOR again holding firm.

Three-month LIBOR is unchanged at 1.09%.
1-year money is down 0.09% at 0.98%
2-year money is down 0.08% at 1.23%
3-year money is down 0.09% at 1.26%
5-year money is down 0.10% at 1.48%

This is just my third Marketwatch but I have already had a taste of the difficulties of writing this column and how people – and by people I mean lenders – react to it.

There will be times when lenders will be mentioned because they have missed a trick or done something which needs to be looked at again.

I can assure everyone that the point is not to sensationalise, to pick on lenders or companies for the sake of it or to stab lenders in the back.

From my conversations with many lenders I appreciate the difficulties in this challenging environment and the broker community is here to support them.

The point of obtaining feedback from Twitter and other mediums is to get more dialogue going with the many brokers who perhaps feel that sometimes their voices are not heard, and to refer to it if and when it is relevant.

We need to ensure that there is more communication between lenders and brokers, which on the whole has improved immeasurably in recent times, and to help intermediaries understand the issues that lenders face. New media is a great way for lenders to communicate, know what is being said about them and get their message out quickly.

HSBC and Virgin are two companies that use Twitter and communication well to head off awkward issues and connect with customers.

For our industry to work effectively the relationship between producer and distributer must be as watertight as it is between broker and customer.

With mortgages at their most affordable for 14 years, according to research from Halifax, new products have been hitting the shelves more often than a John Terry remortgage application.

Skipton Building Society has released a 5.99% five-year fixed rate available up to 95% LTV, while Abbey for Intermediaries has streamlined its products and simplified its range.

Abbey has also enhanced its buy-to-let proposition by reducing rates by 0.20% and launching two-year tracker options at 60% and 75% LTV.

Woolwich has tweaked the terms on its reserve limit which affects offsets as well but it has also provided some excellent retention products up to 95% LTV and, rather nicely, pays proc fees on retention business.

Finally, now is a good time to call the vast number of your customers whose rates are due to mature in the next three months.

heroes&villains

Hero of the week is Andrew Lees, Paragon Mortgages’ head of sales, who is retiring in February after 23 years with the business. He is one of the industry’s good guys and we all wish him a great retirement.

Villain of the week Although fortunately few and far between now, any lender that is not willing to communicate with intermediaries effectively. We all have the same goal and should be working together more to achieve it.