UK mortgage costs have reached new highs, driven by rising interest rates that are creating challenges for households and potential homeowners, tightening borrowing criteria and impacting the housing market.
According to Moneyfacts Group Plc, the average five-year fixed-rate home loan has risen to 6.01%, nearing the peak of 14 years reached in 2022, while the average two-year fixed-rate deal increased to 6.47% after breaching 6% for the first time since December.
This surge in mortgage rates, combined with economic uncertainty and a cost-of-living crisis, is putting immense pressure on the UK housing market. With the Bank of England expected to raise interest rates to 6% to combat inflation, the era of cheap money that fueled demand for homes is coming to an end.
Lenders are responding by raising loan costs, withdrawing deals, and tightening borrowing requirements. This creates difficulties for first-time buyers trying to enter the market and adds financial strain for existing homeowners when their mortgage deals expire. Recognizing the challenges faced by borrowers, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has secured commitments from major banks to offer forbearance, though direct fiscal support from the government has been ruled out.
The outlook for new home sales is further dampened by the concerns expressed by JPMorgan analyst Rajesh Patki, who warns of a potential softening in sales rates due to uncertainty surrounding interest rates. Patki’s note to clients includes a downgrade of Persimmon Plc to neutral and places Taylor Wimpey Plc and Vistry Group Plc on a “negative catalyst watch” ahead of their interim financial results.
The affordability issues in the housing market may lead to lower average selling prices, as indicated by Nationwide Building Society’s report of a decline in UK house prices in June. In addition, since the end of last year, over 11 million homes in the UK have experienced a decrease in value due to expensive mortgages, causing disruption in the real estate market. According to estimates provided by property portal Zoopla, approximately 38% of these homes have seen a decline of at least 1% in value between November and May. On average, these properties have lost £7,700 ($9,788). This represents a significant increase compared to the previous 12 months up to May, where only 18% of homes experienced a loss in value.
The surge in UK mortgage costs and the tightening of borrowing criteria have significant implications for the housing market, potentially dampening new home sales and impacting affordability. As interest rates continue to rise, households and prospective homeowners face challenges in accessing affordable mortgages, underscoring the need for careful consideration of the housing market’s future and its broader impact on the economy.
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