Author : Ian Barbar
The leading British mutual financial institution, Nationwide, has warned that the mortgage repayment in terms of proportion of take-home pay is returning to levels that were last seen during the 2008 financial crisis. According to the latest affordability report from Nationwide, first-time buyers are spending 40% of their net pay on mortgages at present based on an 80% loan-to-value mortgage at an interest rate of 5.5%. That figure is way above the recommended long-run average of around 30% and is dangerously close to the 45% levels seen in 2008. High mortgage rates in the UK have skyrocketed the cost of servicing a mortgage.
First-time homebuyers are finding it difficult to raise a deposit because of the high prices of homes compared to their average earnings. Homebuyers in London and the South of England are the worst affected. The most affordable regions in the country are Scotland and the North of England. Senior economist for Nationwide, Andrew Harvey, believes that the rise in the cost of servicing a mortgage because of the rising mortgage rates has severely impacted housing affordability in the UK. The five-year fixed mortgage rates rose from 1.3% at the end of 2021 to 2.9% by mid-2022 as market interest rates rose sharply. This rise was in anticipation that the Bank of England would raise rates drastically in the years ahead to control the surging inflation and bring it down to a manageable level of two%.
However, mortgage rates spiraled out of control after the September mini-budget to touch the highest level since 2010, making saving for a mortgage deposit difficult for many. With the cost of living set to outdo growth in earnings and rents galloping at a strong pace, savings will be even more challenging in the coming years. Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank, said: This is a confusing moment for anyone buying a property. Mortgage rates are three percentage points higher than they were this time last year but are also falling.
First-time homebuyers will face challenging times ahead, as monthly expenses will rise by hundreds of pounds, and the cost-of-living pressures will add to their financial misery. The light at the end of the tunnel is that the mini-budget shock is dissipating, and rates are expected to fall soon. The declining rates are not expected to fall below what it was last September, but any decline will be a relief in any case. Home affordability has changed dramatically because of the pandemic in most places, especially outside London. However, the re-balancing between the capital and the rest of the country is yet to be achieved. Experts reckon it will take some time. Greater London is expected to perform poorly compared to the rest of the UK, but affordability issues will continue and will be the single most influencing factor on house price growth.
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