We are long accustomed to a yearly festive lull, but in the run-up to one of the most prominent general elections in recent years, it’s fair to say this also had some impact on activity levels across the mortgage market.
However, it remained business as usual for the buy-to-let sector with a number of lenders extending and improving their propositions.
Specialist buy-to-let lender Foundation Home Loans made changes to its criteria to accommodate more landlords with missed credit card payments, while reducing rates.
Where borrowers have missed up to four credit card payments in the last 24 months but have caught up by the time of application, Foundation will now include credit cards in the same category as it does with mail order, communication and utility bills.
Previously these had been assessed in a separate category. Foundation said broker feedback had influenced the decision to make the change.
The lender has also made rate reductions across the buy-to-let range, including its five-year fixed rates which are now priced from 2.89 per cent, and opened up its range of mortgages to first-time landlords.
Staying on criteria enhancements, Accord modified its minimum income requirements for buy-to-let lending and the way earnings are assessed to appeal to more landlords and speed up the mortgage process.
The minimum income requirement has been changed from £25,000 for at least one applicant to £25,000 per application.
The number of years’ evidence for self-employed applicants has been reduced from three years to two.
Furthermore, brokers are being asked to focus on obtaining SA302 and tax overview documents for self-employed borrowers. An accounts reference will be accepted if tax information is not available.
TMW and Coventry BS
Turning our attention to products and rates, The Mortgage Works (TMW) launched a range of buy-to-let switcher mortgages for limited companies.
At 75 per cent LTV, rates start from 2.99 per cent for two-year fixes and 3.99 per cent for five-year fixes. All of these come with a £1,995 product fee.
TMW first piloted its range of limited company mortgages just over two years ago meaning some of its first borrowers are coming to the end of their deal.
This new range will allow such borrowers to switch to a new product with TMW.
Coventry for intermediaries reduced rates on its five-year fixed standard buy-to-let and portfolio buy-to-let mortgages.
Highlights include a buy-to-let product at 50 per cent LTV having its rate cut by 0.16 per cent to 1.79 per cent, and a buy-to-let mortgage at the same LTV which saw its rate drop by 0.20 per cent to 1.85 per cent.
Both come with a £1,999 product fee and early repayment charges payable until 31 July 2025.
A place in the sun
Principality Building Society has cut rates by up to 0.13 per cent on selected buy-to-let mortgages.
Reductions include the 70 per cent loan to value (LTV) mortgage which has been reduced by 0.12 per cent to 2.37 per cent.
And the 75 per cent LTV product has also been reduced by 0.13 per cent to 2.42 per cent.
Finally, and quite apt in light of the barrage of sun-kissed adverts we are currently seeing on TV, Leeds Building Society has cut the rate of its two-year holiday mortgage by 0.15 per cent as part of an update to its range.
The 2.49 per cent two-year fixed rate comes with a free standard valuation up to £999 and fees assisted legal services for standard remortgages. It is available up to 60 per cent LTV.
Not bad for a strange month and I also expect 2020 to start with a bang, so watch this buy-to-let space.