Are you already seeing customers struggle with affordability?

Journalist: Les Steed, AE3 Media / Mortgage Solutions

ended 27. May 2022

Are you already seeing customers struggle with affordability?

Some points you may wish to consider in answers:

How does affordability affect your clients? Please tell us about cases that have stood out, and what you did/do to help them. 

Are there any unconventional ways that you discovered to help those who are most vulnerable to affordability problems? What can lenders and the government do to get more people on/moving up the housing ladder? 

We'd also like to know your thoughts on how the cost of living crisis is affecting the future of the mortgage industry. Is this situation something that's here to stay, and if not, when will things get easier on borrowers? How has this affected first time borrowers and those still trying to get their first home?

 

5 responses from the Newspage community

"There is no issue with affordability; the problem lies in people's wages not keeping pace with inflation and the inexorable house price rises due to a chronic shortage of housing stock because we have a growing and ageing population but fewer new housing starts than we need. The biggest tips to get the maximum borrowing are to clear off as much debt as possible, save as big a deposit as possible and then speak to a great local independent broker that knows the area. Ideally one with a majestic beard. Getting on the property ladder is never a no; it can sometimes be not right now. If that's the case, I help potential customers make a plan, and we review it 3,6,9 or 12 months down the line and pick up where we left off."
"At the moment I have luckily not had any more issues with affordability than usual. However, I do expect that to change over the coming weeks as affordability models are updated and have already heard anecdotal evidence of this impacting some clients. It may skyrocket in the months ahead. There are a number of lenders that have extended affordability rules for certain occupations; professional and key workers for example, so sometimes a client cannot get the mortgage they would like from the High Street, but can get it from a lender offering these types of schemes. In broader terms, the cost-of-living crisis will affect mortgage borrowers as the underlying data that lenders' affordability calculators use rises, so the same household income will get a lower mortgage at the end of this year than they would have been offered at the beginning. Frustrating if your house hunt takes a few months, but more worrying if you have a mortgage already, as you could potentially be unable to remortgage away from your current lender - not an issue if your lender offers good value deals to existing clients, but a big issue if not."
"The biggest issue facing anyone looking to borrow right now is affordability. This is largely being driven by incomes not increasing at anywhere near the rate of property prices. The clients I have found that are having a problem with this are those with average incomes but large unsecured debts so the conversation is having to be had around what’s more important right now: the new car PCP or actually purchasing a home. For the clients I speak to, it’s never a no without a reason provided so people can understand what the exact issue is and how to rectify it by either clearing that credit card debt when they have the means to do It and allow them to increase their affordability. The cost of living crisis can potentially be solved with Government intervention, especially around the cost of utilities, which will be a problem for most people going forward."
"Being able to borrow the desired amount is a common problem, as many buyers need to borrow to their maximum capacity just to get on the ladder or upsize. Lenders have been tweaking their affordability calculators behind the scenes to account for the higher cost of living so it's now even more difficult to reach the maximum income multiples and borrowers are commonly stretching their mortgage term as long as possible to squeeze out extra lending. On more than one occasion I have spoken to buyers who are due to view properties and had to tell them that they can't borrow the amount they require but there are some options that have been working really well, such as Nationwide's 'Helping hand' scheme, which allows first-time buyers to borrow up to 5.5 times their gross income compared to the more common 4.5 times. Monthly mortgage payments are already significant for many borrowers and that was in the best possible circumstances. Now that rates have shot up, along with the cost of living I think many will notice a real difference in disposable income and will have to cut down on luxuries."
"There's a lag between what 's going on now in the economy, and lenders' affordability calculators. They don't tend to be updated in real time, and we've had one widely publicised update this year. If the cost of living and wider economy continues down this inflationary path, lenders will certainly tighten their affordability belts further. However, some lenders are inherently more risk averse, while others are able to offer higher borrowing amounts reflected by higher charges and interest rates. The key danger is that pushing a client's affordability to the maximum takes away the financial cushion. If things go wrong, these borrowers will find themselves in financial difficulty first."