With lenders continuing to gain confidence, homebuyers and investors seeking mortgages now have the highest level of mortgage options available since March 2020.
Lenders recently launched a range of new mortgage options for property buyers. Currently, there are 3,215 mortgage deals available, according to Moneyfacts. This is the highest number in 11 months, when there was 5,222 deals available on the market.
In the first half of 2020, mortgage options fell sharply. Many lenders withdrew mortgages while they reassessed the level of risk they could take in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, borrowers with smaller deposits had few mortgage deals available.
During the second half of 2020, the mortgage market started recovering. Since October, the number of mortgage options has grown by 42%. This is the biggest four-monthly increase since 2007 .
Additionally, at the end of 2020, mortgage approvals were at the highest level since 2007. The housing market remained busy as homebuyers and property investors have been rushing to beat the stamp duty holiday deadline.
Mortgages with smaller deposits available
Choice in mortgages is particularly increasing for borrowers with smaller deposits. In the past few months, the most significant rise was for 90% loan-to-value (LTV) mortgages. This LTV mortgage where borrowers only need to put down a 10% deposit is typically used by more first-time buyers.
Eleanor Williams from Moneyfacts says: “Those with 10% deposit or equity might be especially pleased to note that this tier has, for a second month, seen the largest uplift in availability.
“With products at this level often favoured by first-time buyers and traditionally being seen as higher risk for providers, willingness to extend lending in this risk bracket could be an indication that lenders have confidence in the sector, despite ongoing, wider economic uncertainty. This is echoed by the average two and five year fixed rates at 90% LTV seeing the largest fall of all the lending tiers, reducing by 0.09% and 0.07%.”
Mortgage interest rates stabilising
Average interest rates have increased across all LTVs. However, the average rate has increased only fractionally, which shows rates are stabilising. This is likely due to increased competition in the mortgage market. It also shows lenders are gaining more confidence and less risk averse than before.
Eleanor Williams comments: “At 2.53%, the two year fixed overall average rate is now 0.11% higher year-on-year, while the five-year equivalent at 2.73% is equal to where it sat in February 2020.
“Therefore, while these rates have risen again, the increases are of just 0.01% and 0.02% this month, which may be a sign of the start of some stability in the market, especially when compared to the drastic monthly increases witnessed over the course of last year.”
Choosing the best deals
Moneyfacts advises borrowers to take into account a number of factors when choosing a mortgage deal. Don’t look at just the interest rate. It’s important to also take product fees and incentives into consideration.
Recently, two-year fixed products have been particularly popular. Two-year fixed deals typically have lower interest rates than five-year fixed deals. However, for some, the five-year option could be a better choice in the long run. And the interest rate gap between two and five-year fixed rates mortgages has dropped to its lowest level since 2013, according to Moneyfacts.
As the economy and mortgage market remains uncertain, five-year fixed deals could provide longer-term stability. However, this depends on the borrower’s needs. Seek independent financial guidance to find the best mortgage deal for your circumstances.