Paula Jones: Market News

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The Independent Online

GOING UP...

Chill winds blowing across the UK mortgage market have prompted Halifax, the UK's biggest lender, to lift rates for borrowers with smaller deposits. In a clear sign that it is backing away from first-time buyers, the bank raised rates by an average of 0.14 per cent for borrowers whose loan-to-values (LTVs) lie between 75 and 90 per cent. It follows a handful of lenders who have been forced to raise rates to cover the cost of the credit crunch. Skipton building society has even introduced a £799 fee for home loans on its standard variable rate (SVR). These are tough times, indeed.

GOING DOWN...

As many as 60,000 UK homes are at high risk of repossession, say the Liberal Democrats. The grim statistic emerged from figures in the Government's Housing Statistics 2007. At-risk families, surviving with disposable incomes of less than £1,000 a month, shell out roughly £750 a month of that on mortgage payments – a near-impossible commitment. In what almost passes for a bright spot, the Council of Mortgage Lenders – which records repossession figures – stressed that it also predicted a rise in repossessions in 2008, but only to 45,000. Small mercies, you might argue.

GO FIGURE... 22%

The proportion of mortgage deals pulled from the UK's mortgage market in only five days. More than a fifth of mortgage deals available at the start of last week had vanished into thin air by Friday, as lenders – desperate to avoid being swamped by borrowers hunting cheap rates – withdrew their business. First Direct suspended all new mortgage lending on Tuesday while the Co-operative bank abandoned two-year fixes a day later. According to Moneyfacts, 22 per cent of last week's deals had disappeared by close of play on Friday. Today, there are some 4,270 mortgages in the market, compared with 15,599 in July 2007. Talk about pips being squeezed....

Paula John is editor-in-chief of Your Mortgage

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