housing market

Mortgages and interest rate increases

by Madaline Dunn

The latest figures shows that in the six months to May, UK mortgage rates rose at their fastest pace in ten years. According to research by Hamptons estate agents, this interest rate rise means that it is now cheaper on a monthly basis to rent than to buy. Moreover, over two million households in the UK will see mortgage payments rise.

If you have a mortgage, the headlines are likely causing confusion and concern, and it can be challenging to know where you stand.

At The Salary Calculator, we’ll walk you through:

  • What’s happening to interest rates on mortgages and how people will be affected, and
  • What options do people have to navigate soaring costs

The interest rate rise and its effect on mortgages

In an effort to address rising inflation, the Bank rate rose from 1% to 1.25% and there have been further warnings that this could increase to as much as 3% by the end of the year. The rate hasn’t been above 1% since 2009, following the financial crash.

According to David Hollingworth, L&C associate director, this means “an entire generation of homeowners used to low rates could be facing a shock. Adding: “Although rates remain low in historical terms the available deals have already risen rapidly. Our analysis shows that the average of the ten largest lenders’ lowest two-year fixed rates for remortgages have already trebled since the lows of last October. That is an increase of more than £130 per month for a £150,000 25-year repayment mortgage.”

But, what does this mean for those with mortgages? Well, those on standard variable rates (SVRs) or tracker rates will be hit the hardest, with the former seeing an average annual increase of £191, and the latter £303, according to UK finance. This will also impact around 2.25 million homes (a quarter of mortgage borrowers).

Those who are on fixed rates (85% of all mortgages), however, will not have to deal with the increase until they remortgage. That said, 1.3 million borrowers are set to come to the end of their fixed-rate deals this year. According to Moneyfacts.co.uk, those remortgaging onto a fixed rate deal will be faced with average rates of around 3.25% for a two-year fix and 3.37% for those locking in for five years.

It’s not just those with mortgages who will feel the sting either. Tom Selby, head of retirement policy at AJ Bell, outlines that renters will also be on the receiving end of this hike and “also likely see costs increase.” Speaking to Sky News, he said: “Landlords will inevitably pass on their own higher costs, although when this happens will depend on the terms of your rental agreement.”

Discussing the impact that these rising rates will have on people, Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said that rising prices and rates risk will lead to people being trapped in pricey mortgages that they’re unable to escape, turning them into “mortgage prisoners.” Unfortunately, though, this is already happening and according to Rachel Neale, lead campaigner for the UK Mortgage Prisoners group, over 200,000 people in Britain have already been put in this position.

What are the options?

Looking ahead, it’s likely that rates will climb further. Grainne Gilmore, head of research at Zoopla, said to cope with this, “locking into a rate shortly could save hundreds over the longer-term.”

Meanwhile, for those whose mortgage is set to expire in the next six months, it might be a good idea to remortgage, as it could work out cheaper than later on (for example, November or December’s average rates.)

It has also been recommended by some that overpaying now could save you money in the long-term; Alice Haine, personal finance analyst at Bestinvest, said: “Paying down debt or adding an extra monthly sum to their emergency fund would also strengthen their financial reserves against the myriad of challenges ahead.”

Some lenders are also offering help. For example, Nationwide has expanded its lending ratio, and introduced a simple switcher process. Santander, on the other hand, has introduced a 5% deposit for first-time buyers. At the end of June, it was also announced that from 1 August, borrowers’ finances won’t be subjected to the mortgage market affordability test, where banks and building societies calculate how much to lend.

Mortgage Prisoners UK, a not-for-profit organisation that campaigns for fairer mortgage rates for all, argues not enough is being done, and has called on the government to take action. However, in a statement, a Treasury spokesperson said: “We know that people are struggling with rising prices and worried about the months ahead. That’s why we’ve stepped in to ease the burden, helping eight million of the most vulnerable British families through at least £1,200 of direct payments this year – and giving every household £400 to help pay their energy bills.”

Adding: “As part of our £37bn support package we’re also saving the typical employee over £330 a year through the imminent National Insurance tax cut, are allowing Universal Credit claimants to keep £1,000 more of what they earn and have made the biggest cut to all fuel duty rates ever.”

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Wednesday, July 6th, 2022 Mortgages No Comments

None of the content on this website, including blog posts, comments, or responses to user comments, is offered as financial advice. Figures used are for illustrative purposes only.

The rising rent issue

by Madaline Dunn

Rent prices in the UK ​​are rising at the fastest rate in five years, further hiking up the cost of living as millions of people feel the squeeze. As the ‘cost of living crisis’ continues, politicians have commented that it’s a “very difficult time” but are failing to take meaningful action.

As more and more low-income tenants are forced to make ‘heat, eat or pay rent’ choices, many argue there has never been a better time to reintroduce rent controls to help address the crisis.

The latest news is undeniably distressing, but at The Salary Calculator, we’ll make sure you’re up-to-date with the latest on personal finance. In this article, we’ll walk you through:

  • Why rent prices are rising
  • What the experts are saying about the situation
  • Whether calls for rent controls are being taken seriously

What’s going on with rent prices?

In the UK, rent prices are on the rise, with statistics from ONS showing that this rise is at the fastest rate in five years. Research shows that the average annual UK rental growth has also reached a 13 year high, with rents increasing by 8.3 % by the end of last year. Unfortunately, there is further bad news, with Rightmove predicting that rent will increase by another 5% in the year ahead. Reports have revealed Wales and the northwest of England saw the largest increase in asking rents. There, rent prices increased by 12%, while in the southwest of England, rent rose by 11%.

Of course, this pinch is pushing many to the brink. Back in 2021, Citizens Advice revealed that half a million private renters in the UK were behind on their rent, with an estimated £360 million owed UK-wide, and within the last year, the situation has not improved. Together, housing charity Crisis and Heriot-Watt University have forecast that over 66,000 more people will be homeless by 2024. Likewise, a survey of 155 English councils found nine in ten town halls expect to see a surge of evictions from private rented homes in 2022.

So, exactly why are rent prices so high? Well, right now, there’s a high demand for renting and a low number of rental properties available, which is in part due to Covid-19’s disruption to the housing market. Propertymark, the membership body for property agents in the UK, has even warned that the situation is likely to worsen, with more landlords planning to exit the market due to “increasing regulation and taxation.”

Sarah Coles, a senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, calls this predicament a “dual problem” for renters, whereby rents rise while there are fewer properties on the market to choose from. Speaking to i News, she said: “No wonder we’re hearing so many stories of renters getting dragged into bidding wars, where they’re forced to pay more than the advertised rent in order to have somewhere to live.”

What are the experts advising?

When faced with rent hikes, often it feels like landlords hold all the cards, and there is nothing you can do as a renter to fight back, however as a renter, there are a few things you can do.

Renters are well within their rights to question why their landlord is increasing their rent. Likewise, it’s important to remember that landlords can’t just increase their rent prices by how much they want or whenever they want.

Once you’ve found out why your landlord is hiking your rent, you can also try to negotiate on the price. When negotiating, Citizens Advice recommends that tenants look at similar properties in the area and use those rent prices as “evidence” to show why the hike shouldn’t go ahead or that it should go ahead at a lower rate. The organisation suggests that often landlords will prefer to negotiate rather than lose their tenants.

That said, negotiation isn’t always possible, and in situations where tenants feel like they’re running out of options, they can appeal to a tribunal for rent complaints.

Unfortunately, if you’ve exhausted all your options, you may have to look into downsizing, becoming a lodger, sharing a house with other tenants, or moving into a cheaper area. Speaking about the terrible ultimatum renters are being faced with, Coles said: “Those hoping to stay in their home for another year are facing huge rental hikes. If they can’t afford it, they face the horrible expense and upheaval of a move – as well as the prospect of trading down to something smaller or in a less expensive area.”

Calls for rental controls

It is undeniable that the housing market is out of control in the UK, and to combat this; some are calling for rental controls to be reintroduced back into the UK. Rental controls are regulations that ensure the affordability of housing, and place a cap on the amount a landlord can charge tenants when leasing a new property or renewing a lease. These controls were essentially removed back in the 1980s during the Thatcher era, with the Housing Act 1988.

Now, Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, is leading the call for change in London, and in the past has said that introducing rent controls in London could act as a “blueprint” for other cities with out of control rent prices.

Elsewhere, in Bristol, local housing chief, Tom Renhard, is lobbying Ministers to access rent control powers and wants to involve other core cities with this plan. The cabinet member for housing and communities argues that while there are “some good landlords”, there are also “a lot of terrible ones.” Adding: “Some [landlords] aren’t doing the repairs even now when rents are going up. If you can’t afford to upkeep a home, then why are you renting it out? People deserve to live in a home that’s fit for human habitation.” Bristol City Council is subsequently held a “Renting Summit” on 2 March 2022 to explore this.

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Thursday, March 3rd, 2022 Economy No Comments

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