68% of brokers think Base Rate had no impact on their businesses

Michael Lloyd

December 18, 2018

More than two thirds (68%) believe that the two Bank of England Base Rate increases seen since November 2017 had no impact on their business, United Trust Bank’s broker sentiment survey has found.

The Base Rate currently stands at 0.75% following an increase from 0.50% on 2 of August this year.  The rate was increased from 0.25% to 0.50% on the 2nd of November 2017.

Some 16% of brokers felt the two increases had had a positive impact on their businesses as opposed to 16% who felt they had had a negative impact.

Harley Kagan, group managing director – United Trust Bank, said: “It is encouraging to see that for a majority of brokers the two Base Rate increases have had little to no impact on their businesses over the last 12 months.

“I believe the same is broadly true from a lender perspective although expectations of higher mortgage rates to come may have been a contributing factor to a general cooling of activity in the residential property market.

“Developers and housebuilders need to be mindful of future demand and pressure on pricing when planning future projects and that, coupled with Brexit uncertainty, is causing some to take their foot off the gas with new starts.

“The Base Rate has been less than 1.0% for the best part of 10 years. Originally a measure to stave off the worst effects of the financial crisis, for many, and especially the latest generation of consumers and borrowers, ultra-low interest rates are now the norm.”

Kagan added: “As such it doesn’t take much of an increase to inject some nervousness into the market, especially for first-time buyers.

“However, a return to the interest rates seen before the credit crunch seems unlikely. Whilst a 5% Base Rate appeared reasonable in 2008, the PRA recently challenged the resilience of banks and other lenders using a 4% Base Rate for stress testing, an indication perhaps of what they believe would be an extraordinary interest rate for the current economic environment.

“Hopefully, once the nature of our future relationship with the EU is clearer and uncertainty in the economy is replaced with stability, buyers will be back in even greater numbers and housebuilders will be more encouraged to get on with tackling the UK’s inherent housing shortage.”

However, when asked what impact the increases have had on the UK’s residential property market over the last 12 months, 27% believed the effect had been negative.

Nearly half (46%) expected one more increase of 0.25% between now and the end of 2019, taking the Base Rate to 1.0%, while 12% expected the rate to fall.

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