Weekly Round-Up: 18th January 2019

First Steps

First Time BuyersA mixture of competitive deals and schemes including Help to Buy saw even more first-time buyers get a foot on the housing ladder during November according to the latest analysis of the Mortgage Market by UK Finance.

Meanwhile, the research suggests homeowner remortgaging activity has steadied, after reaching its highest level in a decade the previous month as a large number of fixed-rate deals came to an end. Buy-to-let market new home purchases remain subdued, while remortgaging continues to grow as landlords lock into attractive rates.

In more detail 36,200 new first-time buyer mortgages completed in the month, some 5.8 per cent more than in the same month a year earlier. The £6.0bn of new lending in the month was 9.1 per cent more year-on-year. The average first-time buyer is 30 and has a gross household income of £42,000. This is in contrast to the 1.1% growth in new homemover mortgages completed in the month, and homeowner remortgages completed at 1.3 per cent higher than in the same month a year earlier. The £6.8bn of remortgaging in the month was the same year-on-year.

For Buy to Let, 6,100 new buy-to-let home purchase mortgages completed in the month, and 15,000 new buy-to-let remortgages completed in the month. Remortgaging was 9.5 per cent more than in the same month a year earlier.

On the rise

Retired Home OwnersRetired homeowners released £3.6 billion in new property wealth last year as the market doubled in size in just three years, new data from Key Retirement Solutions revealed. When further advances and additional drawdown are taken into account, figures suggest the market is now approaching to £4 billion, up from the £1.4bn in 2014.

Equity from people’s homes paid out nearly £10 million a day in 2018 with customers releasing an average £76,500 to improve their standard of living in retirement. The statistics indicate that the number of customers using money to help families rose to 27% from 24% the previous year highlighting how property wealth is increasingly supporting a wider range of financial needs for retired people. Money gifted to family and friends is typically being used to clear debts, pay for significant life events such as weddings or to fund house deposits. The figures show other major uses of gifts are to pay for large family holidays, fund university fees or buy cars.

The most popular use remains funding home and garden improvements with 64% re-investing some or all the money in their houses – often to “age-proof” the property. Around one in three (33%) paid for holidays and 31% used some or all the cash to clear credit cards or loans while 22% paid off existing mortgages.

Care takes its toll

Family CarerSandwich carers – those who care for both sick, disabled or older relatives and dependent children – are more likely to report symptoms of mental ill-health, feel less satisfied with life, and struggle financially compared with the general population. That’s the conclusion of the Office for National Statistics in its latest study into the Health & Wellbeing of the UK.

Almost 27% of sandwich carers show symptoms of mental ill-health while caring for both sick, disabled or older relatives and children. Around 1.3 million people, now have this responsibility and as a result are more likely to experience symptoms of mental ill-health – which can include anxiety and depression – than the general population (22%), according to the ONS analysis for 2016 to 2017.

The prevalence of mental ill-health increases with the amount of care given. More than 33% of sandwich carers providing at least 20 hours of adult care per week report symptoms of mental ill-health, compared with 23% of those providing fewer than five hours each week. More than 72% of the sandwich generation are aged between 35 and 54 years, while 62% are women. Whereas among the general population, 38% are aged 35 to 54 years and 51% are women. Many sandwich carers are not satisfied with the amount of leisure time they have. Those looking after their relative in their own home – half of whom provide at least 20 hours of adult care per week – are least satisfied. Women sandwich carers are also much more likely to be economically inactive than men – 28% are not part of the labour market, compared with just 10% of men in the same situation. It should be said, though, that the majority of sandwich carers are able to balance their job with caring responsibilities. More than 59% of those providing care at home say this does not prevent paid employment.

Clearly, caring for two generations could have an impact on carers’ finances. One in three sandwich carers say they are “just about getting by” financially, while one in ten are “finding it difficult” or “very difficult” to cope. Meanwhile, only 17% say they are “living comfortably”, compared with 32% of the general population.

Going Green

Driving NorwayThe Association of British Insurers this week has set out advice for consumers and businesses who may be affected by a no-deal Brexit. In new guidance drivers are being advised of the need to contact their insurer, arrange what is known as a Green Card and take it with them if they wish to drive their vehicle in the EU in the event of no-deal.

Green Cards would be required under EU regulations as proof of insurance if there was no-deal. The documents are supplied by an insurer and customers are advised to contact their insurer about a month before they travel to get one. Those who travel without one may be breaking the law. The same requirements will apply to EU motorists travelling to the UK. Among those affected include people who drive across the Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland border, anyone planning to take their vehicle to Europe e.g. a family planning a holiday to France in the Easter holidays and any freight company planning to transport goods into the EU after 29 March.

Although an agreement between the relevant European insurance authorities was made in May 2018 to waive the need for Green Cards in the event of a no-deal Brexit, this has not been confirmed by the European Commission, hence the industry is planning on the basis of Green Cards being required.


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