(Bloomberg) -- British lenders have begun to withdraw mortgage deals as concerns rise that the Bank of England will have to hike interest rates to support the pound.
Lloyds Banking Group Plc said in an emailed statement that its Halifax subsidiary would make changes to its mortgage product range “as a result of significant changes in mortgage market pricing.” The British lender has withdrawn the fee option from its product range, with changes set to take effect from Wednesday.
“There is no change to product rates, and we continue to offer fee-free options for borrowers at all product terms and LTV levels, but we’ve temporarily removed products that come with a fee,” a spokesperson for Halifax said in an emailed statement. Products with upfront fees typically offer lower interest rates.
Virgin Money UK Plc said it would temporarily stop making home loans to new customers, citing volatile market conditions.
“Given market conditions we have temporarily withdrawn Virgin Money mortgage products for new business customers,” a spokesman said in a statement. “Existing applications already submitted will be processed as normal and we’ll continue to offer our product transfer range for existing customers. We expect to launch a new product range later this week.”
The UK housing market has so far this year shaken off the impact of a cost-of-living crisis, with home sellers this month boosting asking prices for their properties at the strongest pace in four months, the property listing website Rightmove said Monday. But mortgage rates are spiraling higher, adding to the pressure on the market.
“I think that by next week there are going to be very few fixed rate mortgages available below 5%,” said Ray Boulger, senior mortgage technical manager at loan broker John Charcol.
A spokeswoman for Skipton Building Society said it had temporarily withdrawn its mortgage range to new customers “so we can reprice following the market response over recent days.” Clydesdale Bank, Family Building Society and specialist buy-to-let mortgage lender Paragon also withdrew some or all fixed rate products Monday, according to an email sent to brokers and seen by Bloomberg.
HSBC UK emailed brokers on Tuesday to say it was removing from sale new business residential and buy-to-let products for the rest of the day, although it said they would be available again on Wednesday. Santander told brokers it was temporarily removing all 60% and 85% loan-to-value products from its new business range.
The moves come with sterling and UK government debt markets roiled by Friday’s fiscal statement, which spooked global investors with talk of unfunded tax cuts.
Read More: Defending the Pound: Here Are the BOE’s Risky Options
Not everyone is pulling products. So far, Barclays Plc has made no mortgage changes, apart from alternations to pricing following last week’s base-rate rise, according to a representative for the bank. Nationwide said in an email to brokers that it is increasing rates across its new and existing borrower product ranges from tomorrow.
“I don’t see any of the major lenders being out of the market for long because they can still obtain funds,” said Boulger. “The question is at what price are they going to have to pay. With the markets so volatile it makes it difficult for them to know where to price their new rates.”
(Adds details on Santander and HSBC in ninth paragraph.)
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