The Chancellor has announced that stamp duty is to be abolished for all first time buyers on properties bought up to £300,000, effective from today. In addition, first time buyers purchasing properties up to £500,000 will pay no stamp duty on the first £300,000.
In his Budget, Philip Hammond announced that 80% of first time buyers would pay no stamp duty at all. With 358,000 first time buyers in the last year, this means that at least 24% of all sales in the UK’s housing market are set to be charged 0% tax. Once other exempt sales under £125,000 are taken into account, this figure will be even higher.
Two thirds of properties bought so far this year across the country have been under the new threshold but there are large regional variations. In Wales and the North East, over 90% of sales in the last year have been over £300,000 while just 17% of sales in London were for less than £300,000.
While good news for first-time buyers, this will further squeeze investors in the sub-£500,000 market who are already suffering from increased taxes. What's more, it does not, give any encouragement to owners higher up the chain to downsize.
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With increasing house prices, higher deposit requirements and stricter affordability tests, it is no surprise that First-Time Buyers are choosing to take their mortgages over a longer period of time.
Loans have traditionally been taken over 25 years, but figures have shown a significant rise in the number of young buyers who now choose to take a mortgage for longer. A 30-year term is fairly typical today, but borrowers are even stretching to 35 or 40 years, in a bid to keep their monthly repayments as affordable as possible.
Taking a repayment mortgage over a longer period of time will mean lower initial payments, and with lenders tightening up their affordability calculations over recent years, extending the mortgage term is the only way for some to get their foot onto the property ladder.
Before doing so however, it is important to understand the implications. Payments could be hundreds of pounds cheaper per month by extending the term of the mortgage, but taking a loan over 40 years could ultimately result in thousands of pounds in additional interest over the life of the mortgage.
A borrower’s age must also be taken into consideration. Maximum age caps vary between lenders, but most will require the mortgage to be repaid by 70 or 75, and borrowers will have to provide detailed proof that they have adequate income going into retirement, which can be difficult to provide. This means that the availability of 35 to 40 year mortgage terms is often limited to younger first or second time buyers.
In reality, most borrowers don’t keep the same mortgage for the whole term. When a fixed or variable period comes to an end, remortgaging presents the opportunity to review the term and perhaps shorten it if higher monthly payments are affordable. Securing a more competitive interest rate may even mean the term can be lowered without increasing payments.
Most lenders also allow borrowers to overpay, which is another chance to reduce the overall amount of interest paid. This can be done regularly or on a more ad-hoc basis if more flexibility is needed.
If you are considering a new mortgage and need mortgage advice, then please speak to the Guild Mortgage Service provided by fee free L&C Mortgages.
You can contact L&C mortgage on 0800 073 1945.
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