So unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few days you will know that Theresa May sort of won the General Election and has formed a minority government. The Conservatives won the most seats but fell short of an overall majority, which they wanted to be able to put themselves in a strong negotiating position when it comes to the Brexit issue.
Now that the dust has started to settle from the initial shock of the result what can we expect in the coming months and years for mortgages and the housing market?
The Brexit Effect
Running a business that is largely dependent on the housing market I can say from my perspective that the decision to leave the EU has affected the housing market. This may not be the view of other brokers but I would say that housing stock has fallen and the number of transactions have fallen. It feels very much like the housing market was post credit crunch. It also feels like there are fewer buyers around as people perhaps decide to sit tight instead of making major life decisions, like moving house.
The difference between the credit crunch time and now, is that money is cheap. It is easier to get a really competitive rate and this makes moving house still a viable transaction, as the interest rates are so low.
As ever with the housing market there will be regional variations. House prices are still rising nationally but not as quickly as before the referendum, probably a good thing. It is the reasons behind this slowing that might be a concern. My opinion is that this is down to lack of demand. If you thought your house was worth £x in Jan 2016 you might get a few interested parties competing with each other and actually achieve £x plus a bit more. Now the likelihood of competing buyers is pretty low.
Strong and Stable?
In order to bring some clarity to the country’s future Theresa May wanted a strong mandate to be able to show our European friends that she was fully supported by the great British Public. Unfortunately for her it didn’t quite work out that way. Commentators are now saying this might lead to a softening of the “hard Brexit” stance taken by the Tory party. I think largely it has led to uncertainty, which is not ideal. Uncertainty is what has led to the slowing of the housing market since the referendum so therefore if this uncertainty continues then I can’t see anything changing. Some readers might however feel positive about the election result, if the softening of the Brexit does happen then those “Remainers” might be appeased and feel more positive about the future.
What About Interest Rates?
Inflation is up to 2.9% and over the prediction made by the Bank of England (they said 2.8% by the end of the year). Historically a rise in inflation would mean a rise in interest rates but in this post financial crisis world in which we live this has certainly not been the case.
What the election result will not lead to is a rise in interest rates. Interest rates are out of government control and this is a good thing. The Bank of England make the decision and I don’t think rates are going anywhere until 2019 – that my friends is a prediction, not a promise!
Why do I think this? Although unemployment is low and we have the highest level of employment for a long time the key factor is wages. Wage inflation has been lower than price inflation for most of the last ten years. You will need to see a prolonged period of wage inflation outpacing price inflation before you see a rise in interest rates.
With the right deposit/equity you can secure a five year fixed rate mortgage at below 2%, if the lenders are happy lending for that length of time at such a low rate then they don’t think rates are going up either.
What Should You Do If You Want To Move Or Remortgage?
I would advise you to speak to a mortgage broker, like myself, or a financial advisor and discuss your specific circumstances. If the Election result or Brexit negotiations is creating uncertainty in your life – such as your job security – it may be that you could remortgage now to give yourself a bit more peace of mind.
If you’re looking to buy and selling a property is not an issue, it’s a buyer’s market for the moment and those low interest rates may also work in your favour.
Contact me if you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail or have an informal chat about your specific requirements.