Recent research from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) shows that the number of mortgages being given at the moment are at their lowest ebb for nearly 35 years. In 2008 the number of mortgages approved by lenders fell 49% on those given in the previous year.
This isn’t just about people not applying for mortgages. Whilst it’s true that more consumers are choosing not to move because they are worried about rocking the financial boat during these lean times there are still plenty of people who would like to take out a mortgage. Some, for example, simply want to get on to the mortgage ladder and make their first purchase. Some want to buy a bigger property and some want to downsize to save some money and release equity from their homes.
But, this is becoming increasingly difficult to do. There are fewer mortgage providers working in the sector at the moment and those that will offer mortgages are having to impose stricter standards of application for approval. So, for example, now you are likely to face:
- Having applications rejected or interest rates increased if your credit record is not squeaky clean.
- Having to put down a larger deposit to qualify for a mortgage – at least two-thirds of new mortgage deals want a deposit of 25% compared to an average of 10% at the end of 2007.
- Having to put up with higher interest rates and fewer good deals either in the short or medium term.
Despite specific measures by both the government and by some lenders this situation does not look like improving in the short-term and it is unlikely that things will actually get better this year. Some experts even believe that it will get worse before it gets better.
So, what can you do to maximise your chances of getting a mortgage deal at the moment? For a start you should take a long hard look at your credit record and try to make sure that it is as ‘clean’ as possible. This may involve spending a period of time making sure that you toe the financial straight and narrow to make your record look better.
You will also certainly have to save harder to raise a larger deposit and you may have to undergo more stringent income checks before you can get approval for a deal here. In any case you shouldn’t borrow more than you can repay (and lenders will no longer allow you to do so) on the basis that this could lead to serious debt problems down the line.
Finally, you need to make sure that you shop around for the best deal. It is hoped that some mortgage lenders will try and break the cycle here in the hope of getting new customers on board. So, there are deals to be had and these may improve. But, bear in mind that you may need to move quickly. Mortgage deals and offers are no longer necessarily offered for long periods and may only have a limited shelf life.