Money and mortgages in lockdown

There are a lot of questions that buyers have right now when it comes to their finances and their ability to secure a great mortgage. To shine a light on some of these areas, we spoke to Scott Howitt, Sales Director at Chartwell Mortgage Services.

Below, Scott explains why it’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to house hunting, and how lenders are still making dream homes a reality for buyers.

First things first. Is it possible to get a mortgage right now?

Absolutely. It is a misconception that all banks have stopped lending. As always in times like this lenders will adjust to the market, which changes rapidly and often, but the market hasn’t stopped and many major lenders are still offering great mortgages.

As is the case for many of us currently in our day-to-day lives, the lockdown period has given lenders an opportunity to reflect and hit the reset button. Lenders still want to lend and good products are still available but we are seeing subtle shifts, with most of the major lenders adjusting their products and rates.

Fixed rate mortgages have been at the lowest that they have ever been in recent years and fixed rates are still very low right now compared to what we’ve seen in recent history. Consumers want to buy and lenders know the demand is there in the market so are working hard to create solutions for buying virtually.

So there are reasons to be cheerful?

Yes and buyers shouldn’t be put off from approaching their bank or broker to discuss their options right now. While the market was halted for a short period, after lockdown we must remember this was not a financial crash.

Demand is still high as it was before and we’re seeing this ourselves at Chartwells. We’re qualifying lots of clients for Countryside and offering free, independent financial advice to customers as we usually do. Most importantly, buyers have plenty of choice across the market when it comes to mortgage rates, and payments are still low too. In short, the outlook is very positive for buyers and your dream home can still be a reality!

What can we do now to help our house buying journey?

This is a great time to sit down and review personal finances. Budget planning is always a good place to start – looking at all your outgoings and Direct Debits. I also recommend reviewing what your future income is likely to look like. 

Review your credit report too as maintaining a good score is paramount when house buying is in future plans. I would also advise reviewing current loans on credit cards and any overdrafts to consider if these need restructuring at all.

If purchasing a house is on your radar, then having a clear plan is vital, setting out the above is really important, as I always say: plan plan plan.

What are your predictions for the next year in property?

We’re expecting to see a surge in demand when we enter into the second half of 2020, and lenders will continue to introduce new offerings to a healthy market. Some criteria for lending may be reviewed and tightened slightly but I don’t anticipate this becoming a game changer.

Currently, the Government’s Help To Buy scheme changes are still scheduled to hit in 2021 so buyers will also want to keep a close eye on developments here to avoid missing out.