Promising signs from the mortgage markets
AS expected, the Bank of England maintained the Bank of England base rate at 0.5 per cent in February and kept the programme of emergency funding in the form of quantitative easing unchanged at £375bn.
Forecasters are suggesting the base rate will remain unchanged until 2015 and possibly longer.
The Government programme to stimulate lending in the wider economy – Funding for Lending (FLS) – does seem to have kept the rate war within the mortgage industry going, and we have continued to see further falls in average interest rates over the last few months.
At the beginning of February the average two, three and five-year fixed rates stood at 4.11 per cent, 4.36 per cent and 4.14 per cent respectively – the lowest levels since our records began. When the FLS initially launched, the most attractive rates were aimed at those with big deposits. Now we are seeing attractive rates higher up the curve.
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Two-year fixed rates are now available at below 3.50 per cent for those with a 15 per cent deposit, and under 4 per cent for a five-year fixed product.
For those who have a big deposit or equity of 40 per cent, borrowing is even more attractive.
Borrowers remain focused on fixed initial rates, with more than nine in 10 electing to fix during both December 2012 and January 2013.
Most lenders will increase their mortgage lending this year and, as a result, we expect to see continued healthy competition in the market, benefiting house buyers and those looking to refinance.
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