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ONS: House prices increased 1.9% in 12 months to February


House prices continue to climb as far as the national average is concerned, although not as high as in the previous 12 months, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) but this masks significant regional differences. London continues to lead the way, with a 5.9 per cent rise, while prices fell by 7.7 per cent in Northern Ireland. Strip London and the South East out of the equation and you get a very different picture. The national average is therefore useful as a very general indicator of what is going on but not much more than this.

Worryingly, first-time buyers continue to pay more for their first home, with prices 1.6 per cent higher than in February 2012. While homeowners will welcome higher house prices, those struggling to get on the housing ladder for the first time are unlikely to feel the same. There was good news from the Council of Mortgage Lenders yesterday suggesting a rise in the number of first-time buyers which does suggest that funding is easier to come by for those with more modest deposits. But can it keep up with the rise in property prices? If property prices continue to edge up, this is not going to help the situation.

The outlook for the housing market is increasingly positive, with Funding for Lending and the Help to Buy schemes fuelling interest and optimism that now may be the time to get a mortgage. We expect this to continue throughout the year.

Jonathan Harris
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Jonathan Harris

Advice increasingly crucial as mortgage fees reach 25-year high


The average mortgage arrangement fee has risen to £1,522, according to research out this week from Moneyfacts – the highest figure recorded since the company started monitoring such data.

Record low mortgage rates

While mortgage rates have fallen to record lows, particularly on fixed-rate deals, arrangement fees have continued to rise. A typical five-year fixed-rate mortgage for those with a 25 per cent deposit now has an average fee of £1,258 compared with £964 at the start of the year.

However, borrowers shouldn’t necessarily let hefty fees put them off: those with large mortgages may find that it is worth paying the bigger fee in order to access a rock-bottom rate.

Do the sums – or better still, get someone else to do them for you

What is important is to look at the bigger picture when it comes to choosing a mortgage, and look at all the fees associated with the deal as well as the rate in order to compare like with like. But it’s not just what you pay that is important: will the lender consider complex income streams, such as retained profits in a business and share dividends, when deciding how much you can borrow? Is interest-only available or what about a loan greater than £5m – can the lender accommodate that?

Anderson Harris can do the sums and point you in the right direction when it comes to choosing the lender most suited to your situation. It may be that a private bank proves to be a much better fit than a high-street lender – we have access to many private banks and specialist lenders as well as the mainstream high-street lenders.  If you are asset rich but have limited income and are purchasing or remortgaging a high-value property, and require discreet advice, we can help.

Adrian Anderson
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Adrian Anderson