Marketwatch – January 2012

So here we all are in 2012 and welcome to my inaugural Marketwatch column. Stepping into the shoes of Jonathan Cornell is more than a little daunting and I will do my best to honour the spirit of the column while offering my own strange spin on events.

Andrew Montlake 150x125

As a working broker my main job is still seeing clients and I will be nothing if not honest – but it’s nothing personal, yet!

If there is anything that really grinds your gears or good things that should be shared, please tweet me – @montysblog.

But I am still a lover of some tradition too so let’s begin.

Since the last issue, swaps have eased off and risen again slightly, with LIBOR also increasing a smidgen.

Three-month LIBOR is up at 1.09%. 1-year money is up 0.05% at 1.15% 2-year money is up 0.04% at 1.37% 3-year money is up 0.05% at 1.41% 5-year money is up 0.03% at 1.615%

So what have we got to look forward to in 2012? Well, quite a lot.

Don’t be put off by the doomsday brigade writing off the year before it has even started – we are not all living in caves and fashioning blunt instruments out of stones just yet. Mind you, a nice cave in south-west London would probably fetch at least £200,000 these days and solve a few issues.

The point is that if we all talk negatively, we will only have ourselves to blame and let’s face it, we have enough on our plates without fighting ourselves. We now have the latest Mortgage Market Review paper, which brokers should welcome.

Obviously, recognition of the benefits of advice is a big step, but just having some direction should give us all something to work with.

We may see more sensible policy decisions by lenders who had perhaps swung the pendulum too far in worrying about possible retrospective FSA rules.

Buy-to-let will continue to grow and remortgaging will begin to come back now that rates are starting to mature to higher variables once more.

Well done to Coventry, which has kicked off the new year in style with 75% LTV buy-to-let products and 65% LTV residential products. You have to love its flexible fixes with free valuations and no penalties at all, with five-year rates starting at 3.58%.

Watch out as well for changes from Paragon and Mortgage Trust, which are upping rates but offering decent criteria enhancements.

Sorry to see Woolwich is still struggling with its buy-to-lets, with cases seemingly stuck and their systems going down. It is a shame as the products were good and Woolwich has worked hard on service in recent years.

I am assured that this is just a buy-to-let systems issue rather than demand management and any urgent completions are being escalated accordingly. Residential deals are still flying through.


Hero of the week is Jonathan Cornell. Writing this column, he has represented both our industry and himself with dignity and professionalism. The FSA will be a better place and our industry will be a little colder without him.

Villain of the week is anyone who has written off 2012 before it has even started. We can’t control the euro but we can control our attitude and how we lay out our arguments. It is not naive to focus on the positive while understanding the full picture.