Paula John: Market news

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The Independent Online

GOING UP...

The cost of taking out a fixed-rate mortgage is increasing – and it's not just the interest rates themselves that are going up. According to mform.co.uk, a mortgage website, the average arrangement fee charged on a two-year fixed rate has soared from £999 to £1,478 in the last 12 months. The hike in fees for three-year fixes has been even more dramatic, with the average nearly doubling from £578 to £1,132. The increases are bad news for anyone hoping to lock in to the security of a fixed-interest home loan, including almost 120,000 borrowers due to come off two-year fixed rates this year.

GOING DOWN...

Vendors in some part of Britain have reduced asking prices by around 10 per cent from their peak level. The website Rightmove reports that prices are now falling because, for three months running, the supply of houses available for sale has outstripped demand – the first time this has occurred since it started collating the data in 2002. The oversupply exists in spite of the fact that the actual number of properties coming to the market has dropped since a year ago, suggesting that demand is drying up thanks to uncertainty about the economy in general and the housing market in particular.

GO FIGURE... £50bn

The sum that the Bank of England will pour in to the banking system to ease the liquidity crisis. With banks unwilling to lend money to one another at competitive rates, their cost of funding has increased. As a result, many lenders have put up their mortgage rates, despite three cuts in the bank base rate. The Bank of England has now agreed to allow mortgage lenders to swap their mortgage-backed assets for the more liquid government bonds. In theory, the cost of funding should reduce and they should pass on that reduction in the form of lower interest rates. In practice, lenders may continue to price their loans cautiously.

Paula John is editor-in-chief of Your Mortgage

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