UK's top mortgage lender to reprice mortgage range

Halifax ended a turbulent week for the mortgage market today with the announcement that it was repricing its mortgage range.

Halifax ended a turbulent week for the mortgage market today with the announcement that it was repricing its mortgage range.

Britain's biggest mortgage lender is increasing rates for people with smaller deposits, although those with larger ones will pay less.

Homeowners will be charged up to 0.35% more for borrowing between 90% and 95% of their property's value than under its current mortgage range, while those borrowing between 75% and 90% will pay an average of 0.14% more.

The winners will be people who have a deposit of at least 25%, which Halifax said accounted for 70% of its customers, as rates for them will typically fall by 0.1%.

The group previously had just two mortgage tiers, with different rates for loan to value ratios (LTVs) of up to 90% and between 90% and 97%.

It will also no longer be offering loans through brokers to people wanting to borrow 97% of their home's value, though these deals will still be available in branches at 0.35% more than now.

The change, which comes into effect for new customers on Monday and includes Bank of Scotland and Intelligent Finance mortgages, follows a similar move by Nationwide earlier this year, under which customers need at least a 25% deposit to qualify for its best rates.

The group is also launching a new range of mortgages on Monday specifically aimed at first-time buyers, including a five-year fixed rate deal of 5.69%, which it claims is one of the most competitive rates available.

Today's announcement ends a turbulent week for the mortgage market, which has seen the number of different products available dive by 13%, excluding the changes to the Halifax range.

Earlier this week, First Direct withdrew its entire mortgage range from new customers after receiving five times its normal level of business.

At the same time, the Co-operative Bank pulled all of its two-year deals and Lehman Brothers' two sub-prime divisions, Southern Pacific Mortgages Limited and Preferred Mortgages, effectively withdrew from the market altogether.

Meanwhile, the trend for lenders to raise their rates, reduce their LTVs and stop doing business through intermediaries continued.

Royal Bank of Scotland Group and Kent Reliance increased rates for existing customers on certain products and Hinckley & Rugby Building Society said customers would no longer be able to take out mortgages with them when they moved house.

David Hollingworth, a mortgage broker at London & Country, said: "It has got to be one of the most rapidly changing and volatile weeks any of us can remember.

"The credit crunch has really got a grip on the mainstream mortgage market and there is nothing you can look to that shows the situation is going to improve in the near future."

Ray Boulger, senior technical manager at Charcol, said that in terms of the percentage of mortgage deals withdrawn during the past five days, this week was possibly one of the worst the market had seen.

He added that the withdrawal of Lehman Brothers from the sub-prime sector was responsible for a large chunk of the products that were pulled.

He said: "There is no doubt that things are getting more difficult, and they are going to get more difficult before they get better.

"The longer things go on for, and they're not going to go away for several months at least, the more ways lenders are going to find to avoid doing business.

"Lenders are leapfrogging each other to make their products less competitive."

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