Sunday, December 5, 2010

Million Pound Mortgages On The High Street - Maximum Mortgage Limits

Finding and arranging a large mortgage used to be easy. Lenders used to fall over themselves to arrange a million pound plus mortgage and many had specialist high value departments who offered a premium application service to their well healed prospects.

Falling house prices, funding issues, bank closures and mergers and the FSA’s proposed guidelines on income requirements and interest only mortgages have left a gap in this market and many people looking for a large mortgage come up against barriers which can turn even the most simple application into a major challenge.

Over the next few weeks, Enness Private Clients will explore each of the issues and give some useful guidance along the way. Topics will include income requirements and self certification, interest only mortgages, property types, buy to let mortgages and offset mortgages

We will however start with:

Maximum Loan Amounts

Funding constraints caused by the drying up of the wholesale credit market and increased capital requirements have left lenders short of money to lend. This has been well documented and government intervention was required to (some say not fully) improve the situation.

As a result, many high street lenders imposed limits on the maximum mortgage they will grant, instead focusing on a higher number of individual mortgages which both spreads risk and improves profitability (Ten £100k mortgages will generate 10 arrangement fees, One £1m mortgage will only generate one arrangement fee. The margin on the loan will be the same).

A quick survey of the high street lenders and their published products shows the limits - Nationwide £1m, Santander £1m, Woolwich £1m, Coventry £1m, Birmingham Midshires £1m. Some of these lenders will exceed their published maximums in some circumstances, but the application will have to be strong, the loan to value below 70% and occasionally there will need to be an existing relationship between the clients and the bank.

A one million pound mortgage is a lot of money and will require an annual family income in excess of £200k - so this is not a problem which affects or is an issue to very many people. There are however more than 132000 properties valued at more than £1m in the UK, an increase of 393% in the last decade (The Independent, 11 July 2001). There is therefore a solid market for these mortgages

So where are these lucky individuals getting their mortgages? This has been a major shift in the market and is the Private Bank who has stepped in to help.

Private banks work on a case by case basis and mortgages over £1m are not an issue if the application supports it. These lenders assess on a case by case basis and the application is often more detailed than a similar one on the high street so the decision to lend is justified. Private Banks are delighted to be collecting so many high valued clients in so much as we have been approached by more than 5 new lenders in the last month who have requested we offer their products to our clients.

The problem for the borrower is that these lenders very rarely advertise (you will never see Coutts at the top of the best buy table in the money section for example!) so access can be difficult. The banks often have minimum entry requirements (such as a minimum asset level) and their criteria is very seldom listed on their website so finding the right one may involve a round of interviews before the client can find one suitable. As a result, the client will almost certainly require the help of a Large Mortgage Broker.

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