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The only way is up

There is still a lack of variety but a growing number of mortgages available to brokers shows the market is heading in the right direction. Paul Thomas reports

Mortgage Brain’s most recent monthly product analysis shows the number of mortgages available to intermediaries has reached its highest level in two years.

In total, the number of live mortgage schemes listed on Mortgage Brain’s sourcing system in October rose to 7,654. This is the highest figure since October 2008, when the figure stood at 8,106.

In the past 12 months alone, the number of products has increased by 183 per cent. Variablerate deals have increased for the 11th month in a row, increasing by 13 per cent in October to 1,112. Fixed-rate products also rose by 7 per cent to 4,984. However, tracker products fell by 7 per cent last month to 1,558.

Mortgage Brain chief executive Mark Lofthouse says: “The data from this month’s analysis is very encouraging and is a further indication of the positive direction in which the market seems to be heading.

“Overall, product availability is at its highest in more than 24 months. Fixed-rate products are on the rise again and if variable rate products continue in their current form they could soon bear witness to 12 consecutive monthly increases, which would be fantastic.”

Emba group sales and marketing director Mike Fitzgerald says he is seeing more innovation as the number of products available to intermediaries grows.

He says: “It is getting better almost week by week, plus there are a few new lenders out there, with more coming along. We are seeing a lot more products and more innovation.”

Email Mortgages chief executive Michael White says while the news is good for the market, the situation is still not as good as a few years ago.

He says: “A bounce always follows a phase of product dissipation. If that is what this is and there is a growing range of products available to intermediaries, then that is great.

“It is not how it used to be but good news is good news and if product availability is improving, it has to be a good thing. It provides more scope to the intermediary and a better marketplace.”

Your Mortgage Decisions director Martin Wade says the underwriting criteria on mortgages is more important than product numbers and that a lot of the products currently on the market are similar.

He says: “The increase in numbers could be significant but it is all down to the criteria. Unfortunately, sometimes the products available are dressed up and there is nothing to choose between them. The increase is positive but criteria remains key.

“Any broker would say we would like to see criteria open up to be a bit more flexible and generous. It is better than it has been for a couple of years but it a long way from where it used to be.”

White agrees and says he would prefer to see increased flexibility.

He says: “The variety has yet to come back to the way it used to be and there is not the required flexibility in underwriting criteria. I would prefer there to be less variety and more flexibility if given the choice.”

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