Keep the changes in perspective: most buy-to-let lending is refinancing, and stamp duty is levied only on purchases
It seems that not a month goes by without Chancellor George Osborne making a surprise announcement on the subject of buy-to-let landlords.
The latest proposal regarding an increase to the stamp duty land tax payable on an investment property or second home comes on top of the changes to mortgage interest relief for higher-rate taxpayers announced in the Summer Budget.
We are also yet to see what the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee will do once its powers of direction in the buy-to-let market have been ratified.
I can imagine that the people who rely on the buy-to-let market to make a living are becoming seriously worried. And, to be frank, there are a lot of people who do rely on it.
But while I am concerned about the cumulative effects of intervention, we need to put things into perspective. Many people talk about the growth in buy-to-let gross mortgage lending but the majority of it (around 60 per cent) is refinancing of existing mortgages. These transactions will be less affected by the changes because stamp duty land tax is levied only on purchases.
Also, landlords who refinance tend to have benefited from house price inflation over a number of years, so they often require much lower LTVs than those purchasing.
Fifteen per cent of the total stock of mortgages in the UK is buy-to-let, which will still need to be refinanced, especially as the base rate starts to rise.
Purchases, on the other hand, will take the full brunt of the changes and there is no doubt that this will make some would-be landlords think twice. However, I do not regard this as a bad thing. As I have written in this column before, when the conversation at dinner parties is dominated by people talking about their property portfolios, you know it is time to worry. The average landlord that we lend to has multiple properties and is in it for the long term.
While they will not be delighted by the changes, they will benefit from fewer speculative landlords in the game.
In my opinion, the Bank of England Stability Report is completely rational and makes perfect sense. I also take comfort in the fact that the FPC will wait to see what the cumulative effects of the taxation changes are before it takes action.
So while I think there may be some softening of the buy-to-let mortgage market next year, and a shift towards more professional landlords, I certainly do not envisage a massive drop-off.
With the underlying demand for rental property being so strong, any softening is not going to last for long.
Monday 21st December 2015 – 9am - 6pm
Tuesday 22nd December 2015 – 9am - 6pm
Wednesday 23rd December 2015 – 9am - 6pm
Thursday 24th December 2015 – 9am - 1pm
Friday 25th December 2015 – Closed
Saturday 26th December 2015 – Closed
Monday 28th December 2015 – Closed
Tuesday 29th December 2015 – 9am - 6pm
Wednesday 30th December 2015 – 9am - 6pm
Thursday 31st January 2016 – 9am - 5pm
Friday 1st January 2016 – Closed
Simon Carr, Sales Development Director
Well, I've started the MCD road trip. Visiting a number of second charge master brokers to discuss our proposition and how the world will change. (For those who haven't seen me, don't worry I'll be in touch real soon).
In planning my road trip, I've considered the changes afoot and how I should develop an effective communication strategy for the wider market. I have to say, for second charges, many of the hot topics such as stress testing first and second charges, developing a robust affordability model and allowing the consumer the option to pay for telegraphic transfers or the product fees - up front, from the loan or adding those fees to the loan - have been in place from when we first launched.
We've made a couple of changes to the online sourcing system - we haven't had to rebuild anything and the good news is that a move is on the horizon. This will see second charge loans become fully regulated - in the exact same way as a mortgage. What does this mean? We will be producing the mortgage illustration and mortgage offer via the system - yes that's right - manually producing documents is a thing of the past.
A crazy thing called XML (which stands for Extensible Markup Language – technical hey) means that your sourcing systems will do all the hard work for you. You get a decision in seconds and submitting an application to us allows the production of the documents I mentioned earlier - just like child’s play (see what I did there - refer to Precise Mortgages’ latest advertising campaign).
The Mortgage Illustration requires us to name the credit intermediary responsible for the sale - including email, telephone number and web site. The rest of the information forms part of the normal process we have always followed.
I'm desperately searching for the big news scoop, the big thing to announce to the market. I'm afraid, no scrap that, I'm delighted to say it's business as usual. Oh hang on, here it is...you'll experience a smooth, slick, efficient process which complements and supports your evolving sales process.
We've improved the speed to ‘yes’ and our market leading products will help you convert more business with us, not less.
The beat of the regulatory drum gets louder for second charges. I'm convinced that as a specialist lender of choice - Precise Mortgages and its comprehensive range of first charge and second charge residential and buy to let products along with our bridging loans - will be a number one consideration for any mortgage intermediary.
• Limited edition range available to all distribution channels
• Percentage fees replaced with fixed fees saving many customers thousands of pounds
• Lifetime Tracker range reduced by 0.26% giving a rental calculation based on pay rate of 3.49%
• Maximum tenancy term increased to 36 months from 12 months
Precise Mortgages, the specialist lender has launched today a limited edition range of buy to let exclusives which could save customers thousands of pounds in mortgage payments and product fees.
Highlights of the 75% LTV limited edition range are:
• Lifetime tracker rate reduced by 0.26% to 3.49% pa and product fee changed from 2.5% to £2495. The average saving for customers on this product could be in excess of £5000 when compared to lender’s core range.
• 5 year fixed rate reduced by 0.40% to 3.99%, low revert rate of 4.10% pa and product fee changed from 2% to £1995
• 2 year fixed rate reduced by 0.30% to 3.69% pa and product fee changed from 2% to £1995
• 2 year tracker rate reduced by 0.11% to 3.39% and product fee changed from 2% to £1995
Alan Cleary, Managing Director of Precise Mortgages says:“The buy to let market is very competitive at the moment and these products will give significant savings to landlords. The introduction of a fixed product fee will also give mortgage intermediaries more choice especially for larger loans. Whilst these products are expected to be withdrawn by Christmas the change to the maximum tenancy term is a permanent change to our range.”
The Buy to Let Business’s roadshow hosted excellent discussions on new-build and Government initiatives
I was fortunate enough to be invited onto the panel at the recent round of The Buy to Let Business’s roadshows. The week started off at Aston Villa Football Club’s stadium and there was a great turnout of quality brokers. One of the first questions put to the panel asked if lender attitudes to new-builds had changed.
My view is that lenders, brokers and housebuilders alike have enjoyed a renewed sense of optimism of late as Government initiatives, coupled with a much better economic outlook, have driven the housing and mortgage markets into the most positive territory seen since the financial crisis. Lenders’ nerves – which were shredded as considerable sums of money were lost on new-builds post-crisis – appear to have calmed.
A potential issue for lenders active in the new-build space is that mortgage fraud may rear its head again. Property clubs – which Fleet Mortgages chief executive Bob Young was vociferous about – were previously at the root of many of these issues. Bob stressed that brokers should watch out for the return of property clubs and avoid them like the plague.
We are confident that changes introduced over the past few years, such as the Council of Mortgage Lenders’ disclosure of incentives form and improvements in technology, make new-build a much safer market.
Next stop for the roadshow was Old Trafford and, again, questions on new-build. The main topic here was about new lenders. I highlighted the fact a lot of new-build lending is controlled by housebuilders and their chosen brokers, which are often based in the marketing suite of the development. New lenders to the new-build market, which include big names like Santander, are finding it difficult to get brokers and housebuilders to even consider anyone other than Nationwide and Halifax.
It seems to be the case that, if a customer wants to buy a new-build but does not fit the Halifax or Nationwide criteria, it is not worth the effort trying. Of course, I am against this. Why should a self-employed person, for example, who fails that criteria not be given a chance to buy their dream home?
Day three’s venue was in Bracknell; not a football club this time but a hotel in the style of a Swiss skiing lodge. Here, the hot topic was buy-to-let regulation. It is a subject that has been covered extensively by Mortgage Strategy so I will not go over it again. What I will say, though, is that the panel agreed the driver of buy-to-let lending is the demand from the private rented sector and not investor or lender appetite.
The big finale was at a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Canary Wharf. I arrived fairly early and could not see a single sign for the roadshow. At this point I was told there are two DoubleTrees by Hilton in Canary Wharf and I was on the wrong side of the river.
I finally arrived at the correct venue with time to spare and to a packed audience of more than 100 business writers. There were more excellent discussions about the future of the market, growth of the new-build sector and how Government initiatives were stimulating demand.
All in all, it was a really productive week. Time very well spent as far as I am concerned.