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Could mortgage market ‘seize up altogether’?

by Alison Feemantle

Advice coming from a proportion of mortgage experts suggests that potential buyers should be looking to arrange a mortgage before the market seizes up. The claims come in the wake of moves by Santander to drastically reduce its lending for the near future.

The bank has allegedly dropped its share of the lending market through brokers from 25% to 14% in recent months and the concern from everyone’s point of view is that nobody is stepping in to fill that void. The end result could be that lending grinds to a halt bringing the property market to a complete standstill.

In contrast with these claims, figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) showed that mortgage lending surged in March but brokers have recently been suggesting that there has been a slowing of this market for some considerable time now.

“Both confidence and funding could be affected by the renewed eurozone uncertainties, so the underlying picture of a relatively quiet mortgage market seems likely to persist for some time,” said Bob Pannell, Chief Economist at the CML.

There are, of course, many lenders who are currently increasing rates and adjusting their selection criteria so why are Santander being singled out? It seems that the bank have been such a major home loan provider since the Credit Crunch back in 2008 that their absence from the market today is being keenly felt.

Ray Boulger of John Charcoal Mortgage Brokers revealed that 10% of his company’s business was placed with Santander in 2011 and that figure stood at 11.5% at the beginning of 2012. However, at the present time only 5.5% of its present mortgages are funded by the Spanish based bank.

“Those who want a good mortgage deal should act sooner rather than later, in case the market seizes up altogether,” Mr Boulger said.

In the meantime, Ben Thompson of the Legal and General Mortgage club said that alternative lenders were hoping to fill the gap in the market left by Santander but funding conditions were making it extremely difficult.

In addition, there is a range of potential new lenders looking to enter the mortgage market but have yet to be regulated by the FSA. Those names include Tesco Bank and Castle Trust and as they wait for clearance, the blame for the delay has been levelled firmly at the FSA.

You could certainly name the FSA as a culprit in the lack of capacity,” Ray Boulger added. “It would be helpful if it stood by its own deadlines.”

With Santander pulling back, there is a clear need for someone to fill that gap but is anyone going to be in a position to step in during 2012?

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One response to “Could mortgage market ‘seize up altogether’?”

  1. Sam says:

    Totally agree, lending could potentially contract massively over the next few months. Still, banks and building societies need to keep making money, and finance is always going to be available for those with decent deposits and a reasonable income. The struggle is for first time buyers, the self employed, buy to let landlords, and anyone with less than 15% deposit.

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