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Marketwatch 09/03/2009

Swaps had another mixed week. Short-term money is still falling whereas longer term rates continue to edge upwards.

1-year money is down 0.03% at 1.85%
2-year money is unchanged at 2.24%
3-year money is up 0.01% at 2.54%
5-year money is up 0.04% at 3.05%

It will be interesting to see what happens to swaps following the decision to reduce the base rate to 0.5%. That said, each month’s base rate announcement is becoming increasingly irrelevant and only gives the consumer press a chance to write about SVRs.

Nationwide has trimmed its two-year fixed rates for purchases up to 75% LTV with a £995 fee by 0.1% and has reduced its three-year fixed rates for purchases from 60%LTV to 75% LTV to 4.33%.

A number of other two, three and five-year fixed rates have sadly gone up and the first-time buyer reservation fee has also increased to £745. Any lender with a 98-page rate guide should have a look at Nationwide’s.

It shows its purchase and remortgage fixed rates in two simple matrices which tell us everything we need to know.

I would like to apologise to Abbey for complaining that it advises me of rate changes but not its new rates. The reason is that it gives me a sneak preview of impending changes. Serves me right for moaning.

Abbey has launched a two-year fixed rate at 60% LTV to a number of its key accounts so I’m sure these will be accessible by clubs. The rate is an excellent 3.59% with a £1,995 fee for purchases and remortgages.

It has also introduced a few other fixed rates including a two-year fixed deal up to 60% LTV at 3.89% with a fee of £995 and a three-year fixed rate at 85% LTV of 5.84% with a fee of £995.

The lender has also increased the maximum loan size to £1m on its 60% LTV fixed products.

Cheltenham & Gloucester has made the sensible decision to split its mortgage ranges. The previous ranges were £5,000 to £999,999 and £1m to £1,999,999. The new ones are £5,000 to £500,000 and £500,001 to £2m. This should allow it to price deals more competitively.

Well done to Nigel Stockton who I understand has got the top job in the intermediary market at Lloyds Banking Group.

He did an excellent job at HBOS and am sure will do the same in his new role. It is wonderful that someone who understands brokers to the extent Stockton does is running the show.

One of the most useful free resources available at the moment is eMoneyfacts. It’s fantastic. Once you have registered you get a news email every day so you can be aware of important events that might affect the mortgage and property markets.

You also get a daily rate change update and loads of other useful information including a sourcing system.

Another excellent website is Tcfinfo.co.uk. This is an invaluable resource for anything relating to the Financial Services Authority’s Treating Customers Fairly initiative.

The FSA is now focussed on ensuring that all firms selling mortgages are able to show they are consistently treating customers fairly. Large firms should be able to handle this but Tcfinfo.co.uk has everything smaller firms need.

One lender consistently improving is Coventry so it was great to see it win a gong at the recent Mortgage Strategy Awards.

It gives a number of guarantees to brokers, one of these being a pledge to provide at least two working days’ notice of changes.

The lender has just launched a couple of capped rates so borrowers can benefit from a tracker but also from knowing their mortgages can’t go too high. It would be good to see some more competition in this sector.

By the way, to any lender that wants to make it easier for me to write about how good its rates are, please email me your updates at jonathan.cornell@btinternet.com

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