If the story of the credit crunch ever becomes a Disney cartoon then surely it should be a version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. For Princess Mortgage, put to sleep two years ago after encountering a bad apple, continues to slumber today.
The question is, can a prince be found to break the spell and help more people get mortgages?
First of all, how deep is the sleep? The number of mortgages has shrunk by 90 per cent since 2008 and loan-to-value rates have dropped to 85% even for the most credit worthy. Also, the number of mortgages approved each month has plummeted from 98,000 in July 2008 to 42,000 last month.
There are some positives that have helped keep the property market afloat and most importantly, lending has remained cheap. The Bank of England base rate has been bumping along the bottom at half a percent since March last year and mortgage rates have followed. For example in April it was revealed that the average rate for a two-year fixed deal had fallen by 3.36% over the past 12 months, dropping the average monthly repayment by £316 to £853.
And there’s more. Recent research by a money comparison website reveals that both the number of 85% and 90% loan-to-value mortgages is beginning to increase as is the number of mortgage products available. For the first time for nearly 18 months there are more than 3,000 mortgage products, although this is still small beer compared to the 28,300 that used to be available.
But have matters improved enough? We decided to have a look at an online service from HSBC, which provides a mortgage finder service that claims to help you cut through the red tape and get to the nub of the question – ‘I am eligible for a loan’?
The answer is, in our case, just. We tried out the hardest scenario – a first time buyer looking to purchase a £250,000 home (bang on the upper 0% Stamp Duty threshold) with only a 10% deposit – or in other words seeking a 90% loan-to-value mortgage. HSBC has two to offer – a 5.49% two-year fixed deal at £1,380 a month or a 4.49% lifetime tracker at £1,249 a month.
But if you are moving home and have plenty of equity up your sleeve then the number of mortgages available rises dramatically. For example, if you are trading up to a £750,000 home but have £250,000 equity in your old one then HSBC has 26 mortgages to offer starting at 2.19% and rising to 3.94%.
Scratched heads among estate agents at Gascoigne Pees who, despite being excited to see in today’s Daily Mail that WAG and TV presenter Abbey Clancy is on the hunt for a place in London, were confused to read that she’s looking north of the river, where GPees branches are decidedly thin on the ground.
Pictures of a casually-dressed Clancy strolling past one of their branches with a mobile clamped to her ear located the model and long-standing girlfriend to Peter Crouch somewhere in Tottenham which, the writer reckoned, the couple could be planning to make their home.
But the branch in question, we are happy to point out, is the Walton on Thames one deep in Surrey’s commuter belt and the house she’s looking at in the window is a £650,000, five bedroom address in Shepperton. But it must have been pure curiousity – her and Peter live in a £6 million mansion in nearby Weybridge.
On the other hand, the area Abbey is pictured wandering around is best known as the home of Shepperton Studios, so perhaps she was looking for a rental property to use as a bolt-hole while filming her next TV series – she’s already fronted several including ITV’s The Fashion Show and has appeared on others as a guest including Alan Carr: Chatty Man and The Chris Moyles Quiz Night. She is also currently hosting the fashion elements of ITV’s mid-morning TV show This Morning.
We have just rolled out two great new features on Zoopla.co.uk. They’re designed to make your search for property for sale or to rent even easier and provide you with up to date information on the property market. Ultimately, they exist to help you make the best possible property related decisions.
Sort by: ‘Most Reduced’ or ‘Most Popular’
When you search property to buy or property to rent on Zoopla.co.uk you can now sort your results by ‘Most Reduced’ or ‘Most Popular’. You’ll find these clever little tools at the top of the search results, right next to our existing sort features: Highest Price, Lowest Price and Oldest Listings – see the images with the highlights below.
Sort by: ‘Most Reduced’
Sort by: ‘Most Popular’
The other feature, the first of its kind in the UK, is a powerful listings history information box. We’ve done all the hard work and in this box you’ll find the history of any property for sale or to rent which includes: when the property was first listed on Zoopla, asking/rental price changes, the number of page views the property has received and last sale date where applicable and where we know it. This clever little box can be found on the right hand side of the property details page – see the image below.
‘Listing History’ information box
News has reached us of yet another Grand Designs house for sale, which begs the following question:
If, like most participants, you’d put so much time, effort, cash and emotion into creating the home of your dreams, why would you want to sell up a couple of years later?
Yes, the recession may have been a factor for some but I wonder whether it’s ever a wise decision to throw every penny you have (or can borrow) into a property, as many of the programme’s homeowners continue to do under the watchful eye of Kevin McCloud.
Equally, perhaps it’s a bad idea to invite in a TV crew to witness your whole ‘Dream Home Journey’ warts and all if you’re then going to try and sell later on.
The latest Grand Designs home to hit the market is Longwood House in Cambridgeshire aka The ‘Wooden Box’. It first appeared on series three of the show in 2003 and was then featured on a ‘Revisited’ episode five years later.
As is customary in the series, many hoops were jumped before the project was completed; the house was later extended as the 2008 ‘Revisited’ programme revealed.
The property is now on the market for £700,000 through Chesterton Humberts in Stamford, but to give an idea of the number that don’t become life-long homes, there’s also…
The Curved House, Clapham
This re-design was originally about providing more living space but became a Grand Designs classic due to the planning permission problems concerning a giant tree which resulted in the curved wall.
Earlier this year, the owners decided to put the property on the rental market. Ironically, they’d decided that the house was too big for them.
Brighton Modern Mansion
A very contemporary design with outstanding countryside views. This property featured on the show just last year, leading people to question why it was up for sale so soon after.
No takers so far despite it having been on the market for several months.
The Loch House
This Scottish house sits right on the edge of Loch Lomond so you can imagine the wonderful views from the double height glass windows.
It’s another fairly recent one having featured on the programme in 2008, and again, it’s been lingering on the market for a while.