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Mortgage rates are not expected to rise further in the near future after the Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, altered his “forward guidance” earlier this week to indicate that rates would remain low despite a fall in unemployment. David Hollingworth of mortgage broker London & Country said: “His remarks took the worry out of some of the talk of near-term increases in rates. We had seen a flurry of increases in the rates of five-year fixed mortgages earlier this year, but those appear to have gone through the system.” Ray Boulger at rival broker John Charcol agreed, saying: “I don’t think we’re going to see mortgage rates rise much in the short term. There’s no great pressure on lenders to put rates up.” But Bank Rate is not the only factor influencing mortgage rates, and Mr Boulger cited new, tougher lending rules, applying from April, as having a possible impact. “If lenders decide they are attracting more business than they want or can deal with, they may put up rates,” he said. “All the lenders are saying they are ready for the changes but it’s likely that a couple may need to restrict the amount of business they write. The easiest way to do that is to increase rates.”
A poll of 476 brokers conducted by Mortgage Strategy over the past week shows 70.1 per cent believe it will be more difficult to obtain a mortgage post-MMR. Under the MMR, lenders will have to verify income in every case and ensure the borrower can afford their mortgage. The new stress testing requirements mean lenders have to take into account the impact of expected future interest rate increases with reference to market expectations over the next five years. Some lenders have warned this could cause decline rates to soar. Start Financial Services manager Tom Cleary says: “There’s been a lot of negative media recently relating to affordability and how stringent lenders are going to be post-MMR. ”Obviously with the Kensington budget planner putting the wind up everyone, I think there’s a worry amongst brokers that this will be the scene across the board and that it will become a lot harder to get mortgages agreed once the new rules come into play.”
Tens of thousands of borrowers could be turned down for mortgages this summer because they are deemed to spend too much on pets, eating out or other luxuries and might have to cut back if interest rates jumped, a banking chief has warned. Almost a third of borrowers who would be approved for a mortgage today could be rejected by lenders when onerous “affordability” rules are imposed by the regulator in April, according to the boss of Ipswich Building Society. This would mean that from April-July, 67,000 mortgage applications are rejected. Paul Winter, chief executive of mid-sized mutual Ipswich, said this is the level of rejection currently anticipated within the mortgage industry. If such projections are correct, he warned, they could “kill the housing recovery stone dead” and hold back wider economic revival. Mr Winter said: “There is likely to be a shortage of finance available in April, May and June, which will bring a halt to the market at a time when it should be kicking off in earnest.”