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  • Writer's pictureInvestment Synergy Team

Mortgage costs to stay high until 2025 as experts warn more interest rate hikes are needed

June 19, 2023 6:49 pm

The Treasury believes that each increase in interest rates by the Bank of England takes around nine months to feed through to the economy

The squeeze on mortgage costs is set to last until at least 2025 with interest rates expected to rise again this week.

Experts have warned that rates are unlikely to start coming down again before the end of next year as inflation remains stubbornly high.

And Treasury insiders believe that it will take nine months for the effect of rate hikes to feed through to people’s pockets – meaning the financial pain, including higher mortgages, is highly unlikely to end before the next general election.

Rishi Sunak will make a speech on Thursday, after the Bank of England is expected to confirmed another rise in rates, in which he will appeal to the public to have faith in his economic strategy.

The Government has warned that it has no further plans to intervene in support of people who are struggling to afford their mortgage repayments in a world of higher interest rates. A No 10 spokesman said it was “concerning time for homeowners, for mortgage holders” but insisted there is a “raft of support” available.

Jeremy Hunt is adamant that the best policy solution is to bear down on inflation through tight fiscal and monetary policy, which lowers consumers’ level of disposable income and therefore reduces demand in the economy as a whole.

One Conservative MP admitted that rising mortgage rates were “a big electoral risk” but added: “The Treasury has very little power to actually do anything. There are plenty of ways they can increase inflation, but very few ways they can bring it down. It’s not a great place to be in.”

Andrew Sentance, a leading economist who formerly sat on the Bank’s rate-setting panel, said that high wage growth made it almost inevitable that rates would rise by at least 0.25 percentage points and possibly as much as 0.5, which would take them to 5 per cent for the first time in 15 years.

He told i that the Bank’s monetary policy committee (MPC) had been “slow” to act to curb price rises, adding: “Any sort of surge of inflation should have been met with interest rises.”

He said: “I don’t think we’ll see inflation returning to 2 per cent before the end of next year, unless something comes along that is fortuitously helpful. That is the Bank’s forecast. It depends on what level interest rates go up to but I don’t think we should expect interest rates to come down from 4-5 per cent range in the short term, not until the end of next year.”

Mr Sentance predicted that consumers would remain resilient because they had built up savings during the pandemic, allowing them to cope with a hit to their income.

He said: “Both the financial support provided and the long period of low interest rates allowed financial reserves to be built up – this wasn’t distributed very evenly – but they are there and helping to support spending. That partly explains why the economy has been more resilient.”

Sir Charlie Bean, a former deputy governor of the Bank, said: “It would be amazing if MPC didn’t raise by at least 0.25 percentage points and possibly 0.5 percentage points, especially if Wednesday’s inflation release is bad.”

Treasury analysts believe the lag between the Bank’s action and the real-world effect on the economy is now as long as nine months, because most mortgage borrowers are on fixed rates and therefore do not face an immediate hit from hikes.

Most people are on two-year or five-year fixed-rate mortgages. Those who took a two-year fixed rate before the increase in interest rates began will see their deals end at the end of this year and will have to remortgage at a higher rate. The Treasury calculates that this, combined with other economic factors, will start to result in decreased spending nine months after rates rise.

There are also fears that the rise in the cost of a mortgage could lead to a housing crash.

A fall in house prices of 10 per cent or more is now a “realistic outcome”, said housing market analyst Neal Hudson.

Hudson warned that if mortgage rates remain at 5 per cent or 6 per cent, adding an estimated £2,900 to the average cost of a new mortgage next year and making home ownership less affordable for many existing borrowers, “we could easily be looking at a double-digit correction in house prices of 10 per cent or more”.

Labour’s shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves called on the Government to work with banks to ensure that those struggling with their payments do not risk losing their homes.

She said: “From my conversations with the banks they are determined to do what they can to help people who are struggling with their mortgage costs, but the truth is, by the end of this year, something like 1.6 million people will be coming off fixed-rate mortgage deals and be seeing their bills go up, their mortgages go up by several thousands pounds a year.

“So we’re looking at all these things, but I think the Government just dismissing it out of hand will just be more bad news for people with mortgages who were looking to come off those deals this year.”

The Liberal Democrats have called for a new mortgage support fund which would offer subsidies to those facing the largest increase in costs, but most other MPs have accepted that a furlough-style intervention is not plausible given the state of the public finances and the number of people who could be eligible.

Investment Synergy - Try having a mortgage in the early 90´s ! - whose responsibility really is this ? the banks have been called out for being draconian in approving mortgages mainly under affordability checks... the Government cannot subsidise private mortgagees ... if so what about subsidising renters !

Borrowing whatever the rate, circumstance, is the responsibility of the borrower - No?

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