Market Watch: We can do strength and stability

Get out and vote – apathy gets us nowhere. Meanwhile, how significant is a third consecutive fall in house prices?

If I start with the words ‘strong and stable’, I’m sure you know where I’m heading.

Unfortunately for Prime Minister Theresa May, who is looking more weak and capricious than anything else at the moment, this week’s election is going to be a lot tighter than we all thought at first.

The worrying prospect of a hung parliament or unworkable slim majority is not what we need going into negotiations with Europe.

This, of course, leads to more uncertainty, which leads to more wait-and-see comments from clients. That said, I also have some clients so worried that a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour victory will send serious shockwaves through the system that they are desperate for an offer before the vote.

Looking at the two main manifestos, it is easy to see why people are exasperated.

The Conservatives are promising more of the same, plus ridiculous vote losers like the long-term care debacle, abolishing school lunches in favour of breakfast, and more of an economic policy that has not really delivered.

At least Labour is offering something different, however ill conceived and costed. Corbyn is many things but converts, who still do not like or trust him, are crying out for a new approach. Brexit, Trump, Macron: the signs are there.

But while the choice of leader across the board is the worst I can remember, we must still get out and vote as best we can. Apathy gets us nowhere.

In other news, house price declines are the talk of the town with Nationwide reporting a third consecutive drop of 0.2 per cent in May. We all knew this was going to happen sooner or later but the real question is whether it is just another slight correction or something deeper.

Meanwhile, in a watch-this-space moment, the first rumblings of further credit issues in the US have begun in the car debt market. This is a £930bn industry and one where affordability calculations, income details and so on are often ignored. It has begun to slump, with some borrowers struggling to pay back loans. We should follow the news with interest.

In the markets, three-month Libor is still at 0.3 per cent while swap rates clearly have no faith in the economy, falling further.

2-year money is down 0.02% at 0.53%
3-year money is down 0.03% at 0.60%
5-year money is down 0.03% at 0.76%
10-year money is down 0.04% at 1.12%

There has been the usual plethora of changes in the mortgage world this week. Accord has increased proc fees and started to pay 0.45 per cent gross, which is good news for brokers. It is also reducing some product rates and adding cashback incentives to others.

Santander has an 85 per cent LTV product priced at 1.79 per cent, fixed for two years with no fee, free valuation and £250 cashback. It has reduced its Help to Buy fixed rates by 0.15 per cent.

Virgin Money has also lowered its five-year fix Help to Buy rate at 75 per cent LTV to 2.25 per cent with a £995 fee and £500 cashback. Buy-to-let rates are reduced by up to 0.4 per cent.

Barclays has added free legals to a selection of BTL products and removed early repayment charges from residential tracker products for loans above £500,000. Fees have increased a bit to enable this.

Newcastle Intermediaries has new 80 per cent LTV products, which are pretty competitive. The two-year product is fixed at 2.05 per cent with no reservation or completion fees, a free standard valuation and £200 cashback. There is a great three-year deal at 1.85 per cent and a 10-year fix at 3.29 per cent, plus the lender has refreshed first-time buyer rates at 95 per cent LTV from 4.15 per cent for a five-year fix.

In BTL land, Mortgage Trust has a limited edition five-year fix to 75 per cent LTV at 3.45 per cent, with no fee and a rental stress test starting at 125 per cent at 4 per cent for basic-rate taxpayers.

Finally, BM Solutions has come to the remortgage party with free valuations on its products.

Andrew Montlake is director at Coreco