Loans and Mortgages: How the Credit Crunch and New Base rate will affect you

picture of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

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%.

August 3, 2010 at 5:53 PM 3 comments

Where is Abbey Clancy house hunting?

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.

July 28, 2010 at 5:33 PM 6 comments

New sort and listing history tools now on Zoopla

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’

Listing History

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

As always, we welcome your feedback, so leave us a comment at the bottom or find us on twitter or facebook.

July 27, 2010 at 8:33 AM Leave a comment

Grand Designs ‘Wooden Box’ house for sale

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.

3-bed detached house for sale in Southwick, Cambridgeshire.

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

4-bed house to rent in Clapham. Rental price: £1,900 per week. Morgan Randall

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

6-bed house for sale in Brighton. Asking price £3.5 million. Hamptons International

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

5-bed house for sale near Killearn. Asking price £1.5 million. Savills

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.

July 23, 2010 at 10:54 AM 4 comments

Zoopla Rent v Buy Index – buying cheaper than renting in 74% of Britain

We’ve just released our Rent v Buy Index which reveals the top places across Britain where renting a property beats buying and vice versa in current climate. This was done by comparing current asking prices to the average rents for two bedroom flats in the top 50 locations around the country.

What may come as a surprise to many is that buying a home beats renting in 74% of cases around Britain with average monthly mortgage repayments being 8% lower, on average, than the cost of renting (assuming interest-only mortgage at 5% interest p.a.). Perhaps the biggest surprise is that it is still cheaper to buy than rent in London, despite high prices.

Topping the list of places where renting is a better option than buying currently is Huddersfield, where the average two-bed flat costs only £493 per month to rent versus £146,898 to buy. Renting is also cheaper than buying in a number of other places including Oldham, Brighton, Swansea and Edinburgh.

At the other end of the scale, Dundee comes in top of the list of places where buying is currently the best option with average asking prices for two-bed flats at only £88,263 versus £530 per month in rent. Other locations around Britain where buying is by far the better choice at current asking prices include Birmingham, Derby, Cambridge and Milton Keynes.

Even in London, which has the highest rents in the country, buying is still the more cost-effective option, with average rents on two-bed flats currently at £2,155 per month versus average asking prices at an eye-watering £446,345.

While buying wins out over renting today, the impact of a rise in interest rates cannot be ignored. If interest rates were to increase by 1% and rents to remain the same, renting would become more cost-effective in 80% of the locations studied.

Zoopla.co.uk Top 50 Rent vs Buy Index July 2010

Rank City Average Asking Price
2-bed flats
Average Monthly Rent
2-bed flats
Rent/Buy
Ratio
1 Huddersfield £146,898 £493 1.24
2 Oldham £153,228 £549 1.16
3 Brighton £274,231 £1,035 1.10
4 Swansea £185,925 £702 1.10
5 Edinburgh £179,583 £693 1.08
6 Bournemouth £181,772 £711 1.07
7 Bristol £189,691 £743 1.06
8 Cardiff £153,741 £614 1.04
9 Plymouth £157,546 £630 1.04
10 Stockport £143,721 £579 1.03
11 Warrington £127,178 £526 1.01
12 Bedford £140,139 £583 1.00
13 Wigan £115,820 £482 1.00
14 Liverpool £151,860 £640 0.99
15 Lincoln £130,535 £555 0.98
16 Leicester £130,679 £558 0.98
17 Bolton £114,301 £493 0.97
18 Wolverhampton £118,078 £515 0.96
19 Bradford £109,315 £491 0.93
20 Stoke-on-Trent £100,387 £451 0.93
21 Aberdeen £171,379 £770 0.93
22 Middlesbrough £109,493 £493 0.93
23 Reading £197,513 £907 0.91
24 Colchester £135,658 £626 0.90
25 Barnsley £96,327 £444 0.90
26 Sheffield £125,576 £580 0.90
27 Hull £118,527 £549 0.90
28 Newcastle £131,978 £613 0.90
29 Leeds £144,749 £675 0.89
30 Doncaster £104,072 £490 0.88
31 Swindon £119,549 £568 0.88
32 Manchester £142,508 £677 0.88
33 Ipswich £127,043 £609 0.87
34 Preston £116,626 £562 0.87
35 London £446,345 £2,155 0.86
36 Southampton £163,207 £790 0.86
37 Glasgow £116,271 £567 0.85
38 Rotherham £100,021 £491 0.85
39 Coventry £113,532 £558 0.85
40 Northampton £116,267 £574 0.84
41 Norwich £130,729 £655 0.83
42 Peterborough £116,481 £589 0.82
43 York £174,225 £891 0.81
44 Nottingham £123,160 £633 0.81
45 Walsall £94,437 £493 0.80
46 Milton Keynes £135,633 £728 0.78
47 Cambridge £193,577 £1,046 0.77
48 Derby £100,483 £562 0.74
49 Birmingham £131,546 £765 0.72
50 Dundee £88,263 £530 0.69

Source: Zoopla.co.uk

Zoopla.co.uk Rent vs Buy Index – Key and Methodology

The Rent/Buy Ratio indicates the degree to which renting is less/more expensive than buying in each location. A figure above 1.0 indicates it is cheaper to rent than buy and the greater the figure the more expensive buying is versus renting. Similarly a figure below 1.0 indicates it is cheaper to buy than rent and the lower the figure the more expensive it is to rent versus buy.

Current active property listings on Zoopla.co.uk have been used to compare the relative costs of buying versus renting two bedroom flats in the largest 50 cities/towns across Britain. The cost of buying is based on repayment costs of an interest-only mortgage at 5% interest per annum.

Property for sale and Property to rent

July 21, 2010 at 10:08 AM Leave a comment

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