We need to get better in our adoption and use of technology, and in the message we send out as professional brokers
As ever in life, certain events happen that make you take stock and wonder why any of us moan about anything.
In the same week that brokers across the UK were swearing about the European Mortgage Credit Directive, fantasising about leaving the EU and realising the MMR had been a breeze compared to this load of old cobblers, events in Brussels reminded us of the common threads we share and how we all need to stand together in the face of adversity.
My views on Brexit do not matter. Today, je suis European.
Speaking of Europe, however, just when you think politics cannot become any more sad and comical, it seems to do just that. The fallout from the Budget has descended into chaos, with U-turns, shouting matches and resignations, which, when everything is stripped away, appears to be just about the EU referendum and the jostle for power. It would be best to ignore everything uttered by anyone in a position of power until the vote is over and done with.
Meanwhile, lenders continue to adapt to technology, with Halifax and Lloyds the latest to introduce a mortgage advice service via video. It is interesting to read claims that a third of Lloyds Bank customers who would have completed over the phone are now doing so via the new video service.
As many have mentioned before, although this technology is not groundbreaking it shows that lenders are starting to adapt to the changing needs of their customers, who are our customers too. We need to get better in our adoption and use of technology, and in the message we send out as professional brokers.
Indeed, video is great but why would a client spend an hour or two watching it to get advice on only one set of products when they can spend the same amount of time with a broker and assess products from a whole host of lenders?
Technology will truly move forwards in the best interest of consumers only when lenders and brokers start to work together.
In the markets, three-month Libor is still on strike at 0.59 per cent while swap rates have also decided not to do anything much.
■ 2-year money is unchanged at 0.83%
■ 3-year money is unchanged at 0.90%
■ 5-year money is up 0.02% at 1.07%
■ 10-year money is up 0.02% at 1.48%
In the product world, Virgin Money has been promoting its new first-time buyer deals available up to 95 per cent loan-to-value with no fees and a £300 cashback. Its two-year fix is at 3.85 per cent and its three- and five-year fixesare at 4.6 per cent.
Halifax is reducing a swathe of rates by up to 0.2 per cent, on two- and five-year fixed 80 per cent and 85 per cent LTV products and on its two-year 95 per cent LTV product.
Bank of Ireland will now allow let-to-buy, including capital raising for the onward purchase, and it has amended its buy-to-let stress rates. Below 65 per cent LTV or on a five-year fix the stress rate is 5 per cent, and above 65 per cent LTV the rate is 5.5 per cent.
The Mortgage Works, which seems to be having service problems at the moment, has amended its minimum lease requirements. It needs a minimum of 70 years unexpired at application, which is up from 55 years. HMOs must contain no more than seven lettable rooms.
Coventry has some decent 80 per cent LTV buy-to-let rates, priced at 3.69 per cent fixed for two years or 4.49 per cent fixed for five years, with £1,999 fees.
Meanwhile, Market Harborough has released an interesting guarantor mortgage product to enable parents to assist their children in purchasing first homes without incurring the additional 3 percentage point stamp duty fee.
The product is a 1.5 per cent term discount, with a pay rate of 3.99 per cent and a 0.75 per cent fee. The guarantor must be able to afford the whole loan in their own right. However, a joint affordability is required with confirmation from the guarantor that they will assist with the mortgage payment if required.
Andrew Montlake is director at Coreco