Improved product affordability has helped to speed up mortgage activity following a slow end to 2014, according to the National Mortgage Index. In December 2014, total mortgage applications had declined by 28% since the previous month. In contrast, total applications increased by 18% in the month to March. Month-on-month, purchase applications were up 16% and remortgage applications were up 21%. The average primary salary of a purchase mortgage applicant fell to its lowest point in over two years in March. The findings suggest that improved mortgage affordability is helping those with lower incomes to climb the property ladder. The typical primary income for a borrower in March was £38,159: 2.9% lower than February and the lowest average salary seen by the Index since November 2012 (£36,807).
In its Annual General Meeting statement issued this morning, HSBC said it would be looking into moving its headquarters out of the UK. The bank said the review followed "regulatory and structural reforms" since the financial crisis.
The latest Trends in Lending report from the Bank of England shows that overall, gross secured lending was higher in 2014 than in recent years and within this, the share of gross lending for buy-to-let purposes has increased.
In the minutes of the Monetary Policy Committee meeting released today, the committee admitted that the "actual path Bank Rate would follow over the next few years was uncertain, and would depend on economic circumstances." The Committee’s guidance on the likely pace and extent of interest rate rises has now been described as "an expectation, not a promise." According to the minutes, there are "a range of views over the most likely future path of Bank Rate, but all members agreed that it was more likely than not that Bank Rate would rise over the three-year forecast period. "During a recent speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Carney said that inflation could return to its 2% target within two years.
House prices rose 1.6% in April, bringing the average house price to a record £286,133, according to the latest Rightmove house price index. According to Rightmove, the property shortage experienced in many parts of the country has been exacerbated by a 2015 slump in the number of properties being put up for sale and by increased demand. The number of new sellers is down 4% so far in 2015 compared to 2014, yet March was the busiest ever month on Rightmove - up almost 20% year-on-year to 115 million. The price of property coming to market has risen by an average of nearly £85,000 (+27.5%) since the last election in May 2010. Rightmove are now stressing the importance of policies to ensure that more homes are made available as housing becomes an important election topic.