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The Mortgage ‘Prisoners’

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It is estimated that around one in three homeowners (an estimated 3.5 million) are trapped in their current mortgages, as they are unable to move to find a cheaper deal.  The problem exists because those who wish to change lenders are finding the path blocked by tough new rules imposed by banks and building societies.  Perversely, those that are hardest hits are often mature borrowers who have been paying back their loan for many years.  As house prices continue to fall in many areas of the country, the problem could get worse.Many other homeowners who want to move house also find themselves trapped when they find that they are unable to take their current loan with them.  Borrowers who find themselves in this mortgage ‘prison’ typically fall into the following criteria:
  • Homeowners whose property has fallen in value, typically leaving them with a deposit of less than 10%
  • Those whose income has dropped or remained static since they last took out a mortgage
  • Borrowers with adverse credit history (in some cases, even a minor blemish such as a missed credit card payment)
  • Middle-aged borrowers on interest-only mortgages
  • The self-employed who are required to produce proof of income
Although major reforms to the way that banks and building societies approve mortgages is due to be implemented by the FSA (Financial Services Authority), most of them have already adopted a tougher approach in readiness of the City watchdog’s wrath.  In fact, the CML has suggested that around 3.2 million of the 6 million borrowers that have had a mortgage approved since 2005 would not have been given the green light under the new guidelines.  Such restrictions are preventing many borrowers from benefiting from the lowest Bank of England rate of interest in history.  FSA figures show that a third of all borrowers pay a mortgage rate of over 4.5%, even though Bank of England base-rate has been at 0.5% since March 2009.  Bank of England data suggested that 4% fewer people moved home in April 2011 than did in March, and that those remortgaging over the same period, plunged by 10%.  In short, homeowners are shocked when they find that they are no longer eligible for the mortgage deal that they’re currently on