Mortgage choice for UK buyers at highest for five years

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December 27, 2013 9:50 PM EST

The choice of mortgage for residential property buyers in the UK is now three times bigger than in 2009 meaning they had a choice of over 12,000 different products last month.

This is a five year high, according to the National Mortgage Index from Mortgage Advice Bureau (MAB), a leading independent mortgage broker.

November’s 12,032 products were more than three times the total available in April 2009 when the MAB began tracking these figures.

Using data from more than 500 brokers and 800 estate agents, the index shows activity slowing slightly with 10% fewer mortgage applications in November than October after an 18% surge between September and October.

Monthly application levels still remained 45% higher than in November last year, with 37% more applications in the first eleven months of 2013 than in the whole of 2012. Last year’s total was surpassed in September.

The growth in mortgage product numbers was fuelled by a 6% monthly rise in the range available via brokers. This grew for the fifth successive month to 8,961, representing 74% of the total product range.

In contrast, the direct only product range fell for the second time in the last three months. November’s total of 3,071 direct only products was 4% lower than in October and 6% lower than in August.

The MAB says that this continues a trend over the last 12 months for a greater volume of mortgage products to be offered to consumers through brokers.

The data also shows that two year tracker rates hit record lows, with the average reaching 2.89% in November, the lowest in over five years since MAB began tracking this data in June 2007.

With average two and three year fixed rates increasing slightly in November, it meant two year tracker rates have fallen further since January 2013 than fixed rates on either two, three or five year products.

‘More products keep arriving on the market, and anyone looking to buy a home or remortgage has the added bonus of attractive rates to choose from despite speculation about how long the discount season will last,’ said Brian Murphy, head of lending at the Mortgage Advice Bureau.

‘The variety of options, both with and without the benefit of government support, may be confusing to first time buyers and anyone with limited experience of getting a mortgage. For this reason, brokers have a vital role to play by looking beyond the headline rates and finding the best deal for each customer’s circumstances,’ he explained.

‘Many lenders are busy getting to grips with Help to Buy, the end of the Funding for Lending Scheme and changes to mortgage regulations next year. The fact lenders are increasingly working with brokers is welcome news for the home buying public, who can make use of impartial advice to find the best deal from a wider selection of products,’ he added.

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