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The top ten mortgage stories of 2016

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As 2016 draws to a close, Mortgage Strategy has compiled our top ten most-read stories of the year.

In the finest traditions of awards ceremonies everywhere, our list will start at number 10 and work down to the most popular mortgage story of the year.

So join us in revisiting the topics that got the industry talking.

10 – Die-to-let: Will the Chancellor’s B2L policies have unintended consequences?

In at number ten is an industry takedown of former chancellor George Osborne’s buy-to-let tax changes.

Unsurprisingly, Osborne did not come out well from our panel of industry experts…

9 – Santander warns borrowers on interest-only mortgages after completion

This quirky story came from an eagle-eyed Mortgage Strategy reader, who found that Santander was warning borrowers about the risks of interest-only mortgages after the sale had completed.

Stable door and horses bolting come to mind, but nevertheless the lender confirmed it was carrying out spot checks calling interest-only borrowers at random and testing their understanding of the loan they have just taken out.

8 – Is there a place for self-cert mortgages in today’s market?

In the first of two self-certification stories that made the top ten this year, we commissioned an article to examine how far the controversial lending could go, despite being banned by the FCA.

The results, including an interview with selfcert.co.uk founder Graeme Wingate, make interesting reading.

7 – FCA set to overhaul CeMAP qualification

Professional qualifications might not be the most sexy subject, but their underlying importance to the market led to a huge number of clicks in this case.

Mortgage Strategy‘s periodic searches of the Intellectual Property Register threw up an unexpected gem – that the FCA had trademarked some new mortgage examinations.

A bit more digging, and voila.

6 – Property pundits: Brexit set to freeze UK house deals

Brexit dominated the national news agenda this year, and the trade press was no different.

Our story, published the day after the Brexit vote, found that uncertainty is likely to put the brakes on the UK property market, with transaction volumes potentially falling by up to 20 per cent.

At the time, housing market pundits remained split over whether or not prices will fall in the long-term.

5 – FCA set to close loophole in consumer buy-to-let

The FCA, buy-to-let and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, all in one story? No wonder this was a hit.

The story came from a few lines in the FCA’s CP16/17 consultation paper in July, where the watchdog said it had spotted a regulatory loophole that left the FSCS liable for paying claims made against brokers who advise on consumer buy-to-let.

The FSCS normally does not cover CBTL but the FCA has realised that, if regulated mortgage brokers sell it without the correct permissions, this  could create an unexpected liability for the scheme.

4 – Landlords can save on stamp duty using tax loophole

Another loophole! And a reminder that Mortgage Strategy readers clearly have a keen eye for a deal, as shown by the number of hits this story got.

In an otherwise dull Treasury email to consultation respondents, seen by Mortgage Strategy, the Government department revealed that landlords can claim multiple dwellings relief to offset the lack of stamp duty carveout for those bulk purchasing six or more properties.

3 – Self-cert mortgages return as new lender opens

It is no surprise that the return of self-certification mortgages to the UK made the top ten twice.

Self-cert mortgages were banned under the Mortgage Market Review, but lender selfcert.co.uk found a way around the regulation by setting up in Prague.

The lender only lent to 300 households, making it a very small player, but broker ire at the move catapulted it up the most-read list in January.

2 – Michael Bolton jailed over £130k VAT evasion

The second most-read story was the extraordinary tale of the sentencing of former Edeus founder Michael Bolton for tax evasion.

Mortgage Strategy attended the trial, where the judge addressed an empty dock because Bolton had fled justice – and possibly the country.

Bolton was sentenced to two years for VAT evasion of £130,000, and the sentencing caused ripples in the mortgage market when Mortgage Strategy broke the story.

1 – How would a Brexit affect the mortgage market?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Brexit was the topic that garnered the most interest in 2016. Our story, published in February, took an advance look at Brexit and how it would hit the industry.

We found that Brexit is unlikely to hit the UK mortgage market hard, according to economists and trade bodies.

Other Brexit commenters took a more pessimistic view of the fallout from the referendum, but only time will tell which predictions are correct.

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