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Home loan for LESS than 1%: Are we in for a mortgage price war?

Voice Of EU



Is the mortgage price war back? There’s a deal at LESS than 1% and new 95% loans for first-time buyers… but borrowers still face a grilling

  • Hinckley & Rugby BS will launch a two-year discount variable mortgage at 0.99%
  • Meanwhile, a raft of state-backed 95% mortgages went live on Monday 
  • Experts say the surge in offers is a vote of confidence in the housing market

A mortgage price war could be in the offing as banks flood the market with fresh deals. 

Hinckley & Rugby Building Society will launched a two-year discount variable mortgage at 0.99 per cent on Friday, the first sub-1  per cent rate in a year.

Meanwhile, a raft of state-backed 95 per cent mortgages went live on Monday, Nationwide is boosting the amount first-time buyers can borrow and Santander is relaxing criteria for the self-employed.

Top deal: Hinckley & Rugby Building Society has launched a two-year discount variable mortgage at 0.99 per cent, the first sub-1 per cent rate in a year

Top deal: Hinckley & Rugby Building Society has launched a two-year discount variable mortgage at 0.99 per cent, the first sub-1 per cent rate in a year

Experts say the surge in offers is a vote of confidence in the housing market and economy as the UK emerges from lockdown. 

Chris Sykes, of mortgage broker Private Finance, says that Hinckley & Rugby’s new deal underlines an ‘encouraging environment’.

He adds: ‘It is pitching for that competitive, high-quality, low-LTV clientele that lenders like to have on their books to lower the overall risk of their lending proposition.’

Most lenders are returning to the 95 per cent mortgage market with rates of around 4 per cent, but Sykes believes competition will drive this down.

This in turn will lead to lower rates on lower LTV products, he adds. This is because if there is little difference between the rate on a 90 per cent and 95 per cent mortgage, for example, borrowers will simply plump for the higher LTV offer to get a bigger deposit.

But Sykes says all eyes will be on whether lenders start bringing back rates below 1 per cent on fixed-rate mortgages.

Loyalty costs £1,000 a year 

Around three million loyal mortgage customers are at risk of being overcharged by up to £1,000 a year each.

Citizens Advice found 42 per cent of borrowers whose fixed-term mortgage had ended since the start of the first lockdown had not switched to a new deal, meaning they will have been automatically rolled onto their lender’s standard variable rate, costing more.

One in five borrowers said the switching process was too time consuming or difficult.

A spokesman for trade body UK Finance says: ‘Lenders will always contact customers before fixed-rate periods end.’

The best fixed rate is being offered by Platform – at 1.06 per cent for borrowers with at least a 40 per cent deposit. 

Mortgage availability has improved in the first three months of the year but is expected to rise further thanks to a reduction in mortgage rates, an increase in high LTV mortgages and an easing of credit criteria.

Rachel Springall, personal finance expert at Moneyfacts, says: ‘It’s great to see rate competition within the mortgage market but it is vital borrowers compare the overall true cost of any deal.

‘Competition can prompt other lenders to become more confident and react with their own deals to entice borrowers.’

There are now 110 deals that offer 95 per cent mortgages available to borrowers, including 38 under the government guarantee scheme.

In January 2020, there were 313 first-time buyer mortgages available for those with a 5 per cent deposit, but by June, these had all been pulled amid economic uncertainty. Now, the cheapest 95 per cent five-year fix is at 3.45 per cent with Barclays Springboard.

Among the deals that are part of the government guarantee, Halifax is offering the lowest rate with a two-year fix at 3.73 per cent, although it comes with a £999 fee. Natwest is offering 3.9 per cent with no fee.

Katie Brain, banking expert at finance data firm Defaqto, says: ‘Although there have been a few products that have been briefly available during the pandemic, this is the first time we have seen mainstream lenders in the high LTV market in nearly a year.

‘The new government backed mortgages are very competitive if you want a two-year fixed deal.’

Meanwhile, Nationwide will become the first major lender to allow first-time buyers with deposits of 10 per cent or more to borrow 5.5 times their salary when it launches its Helping Hand mortgage later this month.

It means a couple who are first-time buyers with a joint income of £50,000 and a 10 per cent deposit could borrow up to £275,000.

The deal will be for first-time buyers only, and the self-employed will be excluded. However, last week Santander said it would set aside the 2020-21 accounting period if those running their own businesses had been hit financially by the pandemic.


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Johann van Graan non-committal on prospect of Conor Murray return

Voice Of EU



Johann van Graan was somewhat less than adamant that Conor Murray will make his seasonal re-appearance in their United Rugby Championship (URC) fifth round match away to the Ospreys next Saturday night, which is just two weeks out from the first of Ireland’s November test series, with the All Blacks to follow a week later.

“He might possibly be involved next week,” said the Munster head coach after their latest act of escapology to beat Connacht 20-18 at Thomond Park on Saturday night.

Might possibly?

“We’ll see how the week goes. We’ve taken our time with his recovery, so if he comes through the week then we’ll make a call at the back end of the week whether we’re going to select him or not.”

Van Graan assured us that Murray is not injured.

“No, he’s good. He had non-23 training on Friday so really looking forward to getting him involved.”

Van Graan wore the smile of a relieved man after Connacht had pushed them to the wire with a clever, fired-up all-round display in a spicy derby, during which the lead changed hands five times.

“I think if you look at the table, it’s three Irish teams at the top. Connacht are always such a big team in the interpros and you’ve got to give credit to them. Last season they beat all three of the Irish teams away.

“That’s why the players and the coaches and the supporters, and everybody involved loves an interpro, because that’s what you get. It’s not a classic but for the purist it’s a battle.

“That’s what the game is about and that’s why Irish rugby is in such a good place because they have got four top teams and some very good players across the four teams. That was a grind from our side, and proud of the way we finished that with that try and the conversion,” he said in reference to Diarmuid Barron’s 78th minute try and Joey Carbery’s nerveless conversion.

His counterpart, Andy Friend, was left with immense pride in his team’s performance mixed with acute frustration at their infuriating inconsistency and key mistakes, not least at restart receptions, but also the key decisions that went against his team.

Most notable of these was the failure by TMO Brian MacNeice and referee Chris Busby to spot that Tadhg Beirne was clearly in front of the ball before hacking on Rory Scannell’s crosskick in the build-up to Chris Cloete’s 39th minute try.

“I’ve got to be careful here,” he said when asked if he felt Connacht don’t receive a fair rub of the green from officials. “I’ve been here three and a bit years, mate, and if it’s a 50-50 I rarely see it going our way.

“I know that, but listen we’ve got to keep pushing our limits and making sure that we’re trying to be as squeaky clean as we can with things. I’m just…. to me, that try and the missed offside there – that’s inexcusable. Whether it’s Connacht or somebody else, I don’t know, it’s just inexcusable.”

To compound his frustrations, nor does the URC have channels to go through.

“We don’t have a referees’ manager, so I’m assuming that URC will be looking at that and hopefully something happens to the TMO that missed it. But it doesn’t help us, mate.”

Putting his own team’s errors into perspective, Friend highlighted their lineout pressure, strike plays, kicking and defence.

“On the whole the majority was really good, there’ll always be elements we need to work on. Otherwise we’d be out of a job.”

With next Saturday’s home game against Ulster at the Aviva in mind, Friend said: “What we will use is that we know we’re a good football side.

“We’ve just pushed a good Munster team who haven’t looked like losing a game this year and have played some really good rugby.

“We’ve turned up at their home field, where we beat them last season, knowing full well there was going to be a kick-back and we pushed them all the way to their limits.

“So, we know we’re a good football side. Our blip last week (against the Dragons) was a blip. We just have to make sure we never drop to that again and we keep our standards high.”

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Irish man (24) who drowned in swimming pool in Marbella is named

Voice Of EU



A 24-year-old man who drowned in a swimming pool near Marbella in Spain has been named locally in Co Clare as Irish Defence Forces member Gerard McMahon.

Authorities responded to a distress call at 10.25am on Friday. The alarm was raised by friends who found Mr McMahon lifeless in the pool.

Spanish authorities are treating the death of the holiday maker as a “tragic accident”.

Mr McMahon lived in the Killaloe area of Co Clare. Local priest Fr Jerry O’Brien confirmed he had met the family of the young man and expressed his sympathy on behalf of the community.

Ogonnelloe GAA posted a tribute to Mr McMahon who was well known and liked in the community.

“It is with profound shock and sadness that we learned today of the sudden passing of our young member and friend, Gerard McMahon. Our thoughts and prayers are with his parents, Pat and Carmel, his sister Bríd, and all the McMahon family at this extremely difficult time.”

The club Facebook page posted a picture of Mr McMahon from 2016 when he and his team mates won the Division 3 League.

Scarriff Hurling also paid tribute to Mr McMahon who played for them at juvenile level. “Always with pride, great skill and giving all to the team and club.”

Meanwhile, local Fine Gael councillor Joe Cooney said the family of the young man were in the thoughts and prayers of the community.

Mr McMahon was a Private in the First Infantry Battalion in Renmore Barracks in Galway. St Patrick’s Garrison Church posted a message on Facebook asking for prayers for Mr McMahon and for his “family and comrades”.

A postmortem was expected to take place over the weekend at the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Malaga.

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VICTORIA BISCHOFF: Don’t waste energy switching

Voice Of EU



For years, Money Mail has urged readers to regularly switch energy supplier.

It wasn’t the most glamorous money-saving tip, but sticking with your existing provider meant you were almost certainly overpaying. 

And the return on this straightforward, mundane chore was lucrative, with households saving hundreds of pounds a year. But for now, you should forget all that.

The energy crisis has caused an unprecedented rise in wholesale gas prices. And the market remains incredibly volatile, with experts struggling to predict what will happen over the coming months.

Stick with it: The energy crisis has caused an unprecedented rise in wholesale gas prices meaning it not longer makes sense to switch  providers

Stick with it: The energy crisis has caused an unprecedented rise in wholesale gas prices meaning it not longer makes sense to switch  providers   

This means suppliers, many of which are at risk of going under, are just not able to offer competitive fixed deals.

Some comparison websites are still running an energy switching service, but there are only a handful of tariffs listed. 

And, as we reported last week, some would cost the average household almost £3,000 a year.

So for now, your best course of action is to stay put.

If you are coming to the end of a fixed deal, roll onto your supplier’s standard variable tariff. 

These default deals are protected by the energy watchdog’s price cap — £1,277 a year for the average gas and electricity user — until April 2022. And there are no exit fees, so you are free to switch away the moment better deals return.

For those who signed up to ultra‑cheap deals a year or two ago, there is no getting away from the fact that your bills are going to rise. 

But locking into a new fixed deal now could mean you’re hit with even higher energy costs over the cold winter months.

To avoid adding to any confusion, Money Mail has temporarily removed all energy tariffs from our Best Buys tables. 

But rest assured, we are tracking the market closely and will update you as soon as something changes.

Suppliers, many of which are at risk of going under, can't offer competitive fixed deals

Suppliers, many of which are at risk of going under, can’t offer competitive fixed deals

Tip top!

While on the topic of rising bills, a big thank you to everyone for their top energy-saving tips after I publicly scolded my husband, Chris, last week.

Money Mail reader Molly Clark suggests leaving the oven open after cooking so not to waste the heat, using candles for softer lighting and ditching the dishwasher in favour of a good old-fashioned washing-up bowl. 

Another reader, Robert, goes a step further and washes his dishes with cold water. 

A small squirt from a 29p bottle of diluted white vinegar along with a dash of washing-up liquid on a little green fabric scouring cloth used in circular motions will ensure they are squeaky-clean, he assures me.

But I was most taken by Julie Priest’s suggestion of a fridge alarm that will go off when the door is left open.

Amazon has one with a ‘repeated siren’ mode — and if that doesn’t teach Chris to close it, I don’t know what will.

But at £21.99, I might stick to nagging for now.

Keep those tips coming!

Many see a monthly subscription, such as Netflix, as essential (pictured: Netflix's Squid Game)

Many see a monthly subscription, such as Netflix, as essential (pictured: Netflix’s Squid Game)

Need for Netflix

It’s fascinating to see how our spending priorities have changed since the pandemic.

Take the popular streaming service Netflix. Once a luxury, a monthly subscription is now considered essential, according to a report by the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association published yesterday. 

One pensioner commented that their partner’s quality of life would just not be the same without it.

Another man from Wales said that he had not realised how important dining out was for ’emotional well-being’.

But as the cost of living soars, experts fear people could cut back on pension saving. With many already failing to put aside enough for the lifestyle they want in retirement, this could prove disastrous.

So if you have spare cash leftover at the end of the month, consider using it to give your future self a better life.

It could be me…

Inspired by a colleague, I bought my first ever EuroMillions lottery ticket last Friday. It was a rollover with a juicy £174million jackpot, and I was feeling lucky.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t win. But what fun I had daydreaming about what I’d do with such a windfall. 

And since no one scooped the prize money, I figured there was no harm in having one more go in last night’s record £184million draw. Who knows, I could be a multi-millionaire by the time you read this.

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