Few people are shedding any tears over the end of 2016, least of all savers. But it was a bumper year for borrowers. Let’s take a look at what happened to financial products in 2016 – and what’s in store for savers and borrowers in 2017.
Mortgages and housing market
Last year saw a welcome increase in competition among mortgage lenders thanks to cheap funding from the Government, but the lowest of the low rates will not be around forever. HSBC withdrew the lowest fixed rate on the market at 0.99 per cent towards the end of 2016, which could give other lenders the green light to change their own range. HSBC first offered the sub-1 per cent fixed deal in June, so it has been around a reasonable amount of time for borrowers to consider.
It’s the time when lenders aim to meet their lending targets and assess which deals to bring into the New Year, but with economic uncertainty and rising SWAP rates there could be a slowdown in competition and some rates could well start to rise from their current lows. At the start of January 2016, the average two-year fixed mortgage rate was 2.56 per cent, but it fell to 2.33 per cent, as did the average five-year rate, from 3.27 per cent to 2.95 per cent over the 12-month period.
House prices have felt the effects of the EU referendum vote, but have otherwise been relatively stable. However, this doesn’t mean new buyers should wait around to grab a new mortgage. The Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee scheme ended in December, so first-time buyers might be concerned that it will be more difficult to get a loan. Nevertheless, it is still too early to tell whether its removal will dampen competition.