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Lenders pull 500 mortgages as average rates hit seven-year high

Banks and building societies pulled more than 500 mortgages from sale in the last month, leaving borrowers facing less choice and higher interest rates.

There were 518 fewer mortgage products available at the start of March compared to the beginning of February, according to financial information service Moneyfacts. 

It said this was the biggest monthly fall in availability since May 2020, when 626 products were pulled as a result of uncertainty and disruption caused by the pandemic.

This left 4,838 deals for borrowers to choose from; 384 fewer than were on offer in March 2020.

Less choice: In February, mortgage products experienced their biggest drop since May 2020

Less choice: In February, mortgage products experienced their biggest drop since May 2020

In response to increases in the Bank of England’s base rate, lenders have removed individual products from the market, while others have suspended lending for particular deposit sizes.

In addition, mortgage product shelf-life has plummeted by 14 days in the last month, giving prospective mortgage customers just 28 days to secure their preferred deal on average.  

Overall average two and five-year fixed rates have increased for the fifth consecutive month, rising 0.21 and 0.17 percentage points respectively.

At 2.65 per cent the two-year average was the highest Moneyfacts has recorded since November 2015.

This could be bad news for those coming off two-year fixed mortgage deals, who could find rates more expensive than when they took out their last mortgage – especially if they have not built up enough equity to move up to a higher loan-to-value band and get a more competitive rate.

Going up: Two and five-year fixed mortgage rates are both on the rise, according to Moneyfacts, with the average two-year rate now sitting at 2.65% – a seven-year high

Going up: Two and five-year fixed mortgage rates are both on the rise, according to Moneyfacts, with the average two-year rate now sitting at 2.65% – a seven-year high

The five-year average rate of 2.88 per cent was the highest since April 2019. 

Those coming to the end of five-year fixed deal from 2017 may still be able to secure a competitive deal, as the average rate remains 0.05 percentage points below where it sat in March 2017 at 2.93 per cent.

Mortgage availability only improved on 5 per cent deposit loans, where seven new deals were added, with all other deposit sizes seeing an increase.

However, March marked the first time that the two-year fixed average rate for 5 per cent deposit mortgages increased since April 2021, going up by 0.06 per cent to 3.11 per cent.

While the base rate does not directly impact fixed mortgage rates, lenders usually increase rates because the costs they incur when borrowing money also rise. 

In the summer of 2021, mortgage rates hit all-time lows with the cheapest charging as little as 0.83 per cent.

This was because lenders wanted to capitalise on the hot property market, and could borrow cheaply with the Bank of England’s base rate sitting at 0.1 per cent.

However, that was subsequently increased to 0.25 per cent in December and then 0.5 per cent in February, with further rises anticipated.  

Eleanor Williams, finance expert at Moneyfacts, said: ‘Borrowers contemplating securing a new mortgage deal may be disheartened to see that rates are continuing to rise this month.

‘While factors beyond lenders’ control are uncertain, as the cost of living crisis continues and economic conditions are volatile, to mitigate the risk of default, it could be that providers may tighten their lending belts even further moving forwards.

‘Borrowers looking to get onto the property ladder or to remortgage may therefore be wise to seek advice to ensure they are abreast of the changing market and to move forwards with securing the most suitable deal for them.’

What are the best fixed-rate mortgage deals? 

There are still rates out there which are substantially lower than these average figures, especially for those with more equity or larger deposits. Therefore, borrowers are advised to shop around for the best deal.

This is Money has rounded up some of the lowest remortgage rates available for each deposit size, though borrowers should also consider how fees would affect the amount they pay overall. 

You can compare rates and fees using This is Money’s calculator. 

Best remortgage rates by deposit/equity size 
Deposit/equity  Fix length  Lender  Rate  Fees 
40% 2 years  First Direct 1.64%  £490 
40%  5 years  First Direct  1.74%  £490 
25%  2 years  First Direct  1.69%  £490 
25%  5 years  First Direct  1.79%  £490 
10%  2 years  Clydesdale Bank  1.85%  £1,999 
10%  5 years  Clydesdale Bank  2.25%  £1,999 
Source: This is Money/L&C mortgage tool. Based on a £300,000 home being remortgaged on a 25-year term.      

What is happening to variable rate mortgages? 

Looking at variable rate mortgages, the average two-year tracker rate for all loan-to-values rose by 0.33 percentage points monthly to 2.03 per cent, according to Moneyfacts.

This represented an increase of 0.45 percentage point increase since December 2021 – outpacing the 0.4 percentage point increase the Bank of England base rate has experienced over the same period.

Borrowers on their lender’s standard variable rate are also seeing their mortgage payments increase.

The average SVR increased by 0.15 percentage points to 4.61 per cent this month according to Moneyfacts; the largest single monthly rise on its records.

Many lenders are yet to amended theirs following the first back-to-back base rate rises since June 2004.

With the average overall two-year fixed rate 1.96 per cent below the average SVR, borrowers who are able to do so are advised to seek out a fixed rate and lock in lower payments.

What is the advice for borrowers? 

Mortgage experts are warning borrowers of all types to keep a ‘cool head’ and not rush into any decisions.

Michael Thompson, advice director at national mortgage broker Key Solutions, said: ‘The vast majority of UK mortgage holders are safely locked into a fixed rate and therefore, won’t need to worry about how this will impact them until their current mortgage agreement comes to an end.

 This shouldn’t put people off from moving to the house of their dreams or taking that first step to get on the property ladder

Mortgage broker, Michael Thompson 

‘Rates have gone up which will cost homebuyers a little bit more, but I want to stress this shouldn’t put people off from moving to the house of their dreams or taking that first step to get on the property ladder.

‘We’ve seen a sharp and slightly panicky reaction to the Bank of England base rate rising to 0.5 per cent in February but 30 years ago in 1992, it was more than 20 times higher at 10.38 per cent. So, we must view this rise with some much-needed context and with a cool-head.’

While mortgage rates are still low in historical terms, today’s house prices are at an all-time high compared to average salaries.

While in the early 1990s the UK house price to earnings ratio sat below 3.5, that figure has recently reached an all-time high of 6.6 according to Nationwide. 

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

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Living in a surfer’s paradise! Chic townhouse with incredible floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking beach in Cornwall goes on the market for £2.75million

A chic townhouse with breathtaking views over a surfer’s paradise has gone on the market for £2.75m.

Gwel Tresla has incredible floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the surf mecca of Polzeath, Cornwall, and even has a sky hammock to take full advantage of the panoramic views.

The five-bedroom home is one of three striking contemporary townhouses completed in 2020 with high specifications and smart technology throughout and has been a successful holiday let with Latitude 50.

The property is arranged over four storeys with reversed living accommodation to make the most of its incredible beachfront and west-facing position, which means the owners will get to enjoy spectacular sunsets.

It has 2,863 sq ft of accommodation with the entrance lobby and a double bedroom with en suite on the ground floor, and four bedrooms and four bathrooms on the first floor.

Gwel Tresla in Polzeath, Cornwall is on the housing market for £2.75million

Gwel Tresla in Polzeath, Cornwall is on the housing market for £2.75million

The property is located in the small seaside resort village overlooking the beach that is popular with surfers

The property is located in the small seaside resort village overlooking the beach that is popular with surfers

The property is arranged over four storeys with reversed living accommodation to make the most of its incredible beachfront and west-facing position

The property is arranged over four storeys with reversed living accommodation to make the most of its incredible beachfront and west-facing position

On the second floor there is an impressive open plan living space with a kitchen/dining area

On the second floor there is an impressive open plan living space with a kitchen/dining area

The kitchen has a breakfast bar where the owners can enjoy a meal as daylight shines in through the floor-to-ceiling windows

The kitchen has a breakfast bar where the owners can enjoy a meal as daylight shines in through the floor-to-ceiling windows

There is a built-in-bar on the other side of the kitchen which is perfect when hosting guests

There is a built-in-bar on the other side of the kitchen which is perfect when hosting guests

On the second floor there is an impressive open plan living space with a kitchen/dining area with built-in bar at one end and a living area with a vaulted ceiling and a sea-facing balcony at the other.

The top floor has another living area/TV room with the sky hammock looking out over the beach and a bathroom. There is also a large covered terrace with built-in outdoor kitchen and barbecue.

Outside there is secure underground parking for two cars, a lockable surf and equipment store and outdoor hot and cold showers.

The house is just 25 yards from Polzeath Beach, a popular holiday spot with safe bathing and surfing and a vast expanse of beach.

Polzeath is close to the other popular resorts of Rock and Padstow and has a number of excellent restaurants and pubs nearby, great watersports opportunities and walking and golf.

The reversed living accommodation allows the owners to enjoy beautiful sunsets from the living room

The reversed living accommodation allows the owners to enjoy beautiful sunsets from the living room

The top floor has another living area that leads out onto a large covered terrace

The top floor has another living area that leads out onto a large covered terrace

There is a sky hammock on the top floor looking out over the beach

There is a sky hammock on the top floor looking out over the beach

The covered terrace has built-in outdoor kitchen, barbecue and seating

The covered terrace has built-in outdoor kitchen, barbecue and seating

Josephine Ashby from John Bray Estates said: ‘This striking architectural design, by Studio Arc Architects, delivers on all fronts, with breath-taking coastal views from all the principal rooms, and high specifications and smart technology throughout.

‘Completed in 2020, Gwel Trelsa is the dream beachfront property, offering comfortable and spacious accommodation that seamlessly blends comfort and luxury, resulting in a highly desirable family home or holiday home.

‘Situated in a prime frontline position at Polzeath, Gwel Trelsa commands front line views across the beach and over the surrounding coastline.’

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The 11 things that make your garden look tacky, revealed by a top expert – including the flower colour that just screams cheap

A well-maintained garden may be a relaxing retreat – but it can also boost the kerb appeal and even the value of your home.

But, if done the wrong way, efforts to enhance your outside space can leave it looking cheap.

From choosing the wrong plant pots to – counterintuitively – being too tidy, the Mail’s gardening editor looks at the 11 common errors that can cheapen your garden, rather than helping it thrive. 

When tidy is too tidy

Many of us were brought up with strict ideas about well-kept gardens, with lawns neatly mown and weeds all pulled up. But that is no longer the prevailing aesthetic.

Letting go a little and being slightly untidy can lead to a more expensive looking haven. And leaving self-sown plants in summer and seed heads over winter will make your garden look more expensively abundant. Phew!

Wildflower beds with self-sown plants are now the prevailing aesthetic

Wildflower beds with self-sown plants are now the prevailing aesthetic 

Yellow’s not mellow

Don’t get me wrong, I have a soft spot for bright yellow flowers such as daffodils and sunflowers. But such garish flowers must be used in the right context.

Expansive garden beds the colour of a hi-vis vest? It’s a no. Yellow is difficult to match with other colours and should be used sparingly.

The perils of artificial grass

The quickest way to make your garden look cheap is to lay artificial turf. Used widely in sporting venues, fake grass became popular because it doesn’t need to be mowed or watered so is seen as low-maintenance and hard-wearing. But it almost always looks naff.

Plus, the disadvantages far outweigh the benefits. It is ruinous for wildlife and adds to global warming by absorbing more radiation than living grass, which acts as a carbon sink. Natural lawns allow rainwater to be soaked up, whereas artificial grass can cause run-off after heavy rainfall leading to flooding.

In hot weather, it can reach dangerous temperatures, especially for pets who might burn their paws. Plus, it only has a lifespan of ten to 20 years, after which time it is difficult to recycle.

 Soulless bare fences

Fences without greenery can make your garden look boxy and cheap. There are plenty of easy climbers you can plant to soften the feel and make your garden look more high-end.

Star Jasmine is a lovely evergreen with pretty white flowers, while climbing hydrangea is good for a shady corner.

If you want privacy, remember evergreen hedges can’t be more than 2m high, according to the High Hedges Act. Instead try planting deciduous silver birch trees with attractive white trunks and green foliage in summer when you are out in the garden.

Don’t settle for plastic furniture

Moulded plastic chairs are unsightly and should be avoided at all costs. Plus, they’re uncomfortable and topple if you lean too far back, or slice into any bare flesh unfortunate enough to touch the seat.

If your budget won’t stretch to buying new wood, rattan or metal alternatives, search local online groups to see if anyone has second hand deck chairs or outdoor dining sets on offer.

If you are willing to buy something preloved and weathered, it can often cost less but look more expensive.

Thin borders, a thing of the past

Narrow flower beds around the edge of a rectangular lawn used to be thought of as the ideal garden design, but these days it just looks scrimping.

Borders should be at least a metre deep to allow for multi-layered planting. Don’t just put them around the perimeter of your garden. Flower beds used to divide up a space add a touch of mystery and look much classier.

Gadgets and gazebos

Barbecues, fire pits, corner sofas, gazebos, over-sized paddling pools – its easy for your outdoor space to become cluttered with so many garden gadgets you can’t move around without tripping over them.

Decide what you really need and use often, then recycle the rest. Or store them away neatly in the shed until you want to use them.

Plastic plant pot horror

It is tricky to keep plants looking good in plastic containers, even the ones that attempt to imitate terracotta.

As well as the lack of sustainability, the trouble with plastic is that unlike materials such as wood and stone, it provides no protection for plants against drying out in summer and freezing in winter, and it is not breathable.

If you do have plastic pots, reuse them for propagating and save your best non-plastic containers for display purposes.

Paving the way to disaster  

Every gardener needs somewhere to sit, but this shouldn’t come at the expense of losing too much of your lawn.

Ideally there should be a ratio of at least two-thirds planting and grass to one-third hard surface. If you are putting in a new patio, consider leaving gaps between the pavers for low plants such as creeping thyme and Mind-Your-Own-Business which will also help with drainage. 

If you want to park your car in your front garden, choose a permeable surface with planting around the edges.

Fly-away greenhouses

I must confess I own one of these mini shelving units covered in a zip-up, see-through plastic smock. But after it fell over outside one too many times in windy weather, despite being tied to the wall, I have brought it in to our lean-to where I now use it as a propagating unit. A pile of overturned seed trays and spilled soil does nothing to add to kerb appeal.

Do away with dead pot plants 

Well-tended container planting can add a cheerful welcome to a garden or balcony, but there is little as off-putting as being greeted by a collection of unidentifiable shrivelled dead plants in pots.

Avoid this by doing your research and choosing plants you love which will encourage you to water and feed them regularly. Having a water butt nearby makes this task much easier.

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Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by Savills reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.


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