16 November 2020

Press coverage

Many buyers choose flats because that is all they can afford but are they still an effective stepping stone on to the housing ladder? Mortgage broker SPF Private Clients looked at what it could mean if current trends persist. If a first-time buyer wanted to purchase a two-bedroom flat in Kentish Town for £450,000, would they be able to trade up to buy a house locally some 9.4 years later (the average time people hold a flat for)? It’s tricky. Their annual income would have needed to nearly quadruple to £294,598 to qualify for a mortgage to buy a three-bed terrace in the area for £1.6m. Mark Harris of SPF Private Clients, said: ‘Trading out has been a big trend for London flat owners in recent years and we expect this to become even more pronounced.’ The Financial Times, 12 November 2020

Halifax said property prices were 7.5 per cent higher in October than a year ago. Mark Harris of SPF Private Clients, said: ‘People require more outdoor space and not all flats have roof terraces and balconies. But while Covid is having a massive impact it is likely to be temporary in the scheme of things, with people not able to work from home four days a week forever. Once we have more normality, [employers] will want to see people in the office more. Those flats that are 20 minutes from the workplace will be more appealing than a house on the Dorset coast if you have to be in the office four times a week.’ BBC News, 6 November 2020

As soon as the government confirmed England would be locked down again, lenders confirmed they would extend mortgage payment deferrals. Mark Harris of SPF Private Clients, said: ‘Many borrowers will be worrying about paying their mortgage and extending payment deferrals for up to six more months will provide them with some comfort. However, the advice remains the same – only ask for a payment deferral if you need one. Interest will still rack up and you will have more to pay off in the long run so the option should only be used by those who really need it.’ This is Money, 3 November 2020

However, if you do think you need a mortgage payment holiday, talk to your lender sooner rather than later. ‘If you find yourself struggling with your mortgage payments, make a proposal to your lender – you might not be able to afford to pay all your mortgage for example, but you could offer to pay half. The important thing is to ask for help as early as possible rather than ignoring the issue,’ said Mark Harris of SPF Private Clients. ‘While lenders should offer support to borrowers, they can only do that if they know there is a problem.’ The Evening Standard, 3 November 2020

House prices hit a record high of £227,826 in October, the fastest rate of growth in values since 2015. Mark Harris of SPF Private Clients, said: ‘The stamp duty holiday has clearly stimulated the market, combined with the impact of Covid and the desire for people to move somewhere with more outside space. The end of the stamp duty deadline is a concern, and needs looking at by the government, although it is focusing buyers’ minds on getting deals done in the short term. The problem borrowers face is lenders’ service levels, with some struggling with the rise in demand. Price and criteria are key when choosing a mortgage, but borrowers must also consider how long a lender is going to take.’ The Independent, 30 October 2020

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