Paragon Mortgages’ Financial Adviser Confidence Tracker (FACT) Index, a panel-based survey of mortgage brokers, found that 39% of landlords obtained a buy-to-let mortgage via a financial adviser for remortgage purposes in the third quarter of 2009, the lowest level recorded since the first quarter of 2007.
In contrast, the proportion of landlords obtaining buy-to-let mortgages for portfolio expansion purposes has hit its highest level since the question was introduced to the FACT survey in 2001. It found that 48% of landlords obtained a mortgage to extend their portfolio in the third quarter of 2009. This represents a rapid recovery from the final quarter of 2008, when just 31% of landlords were taking out a buy-to-let mortgage for portfolio expansion purposes.
Only 10% of business via financial advisers surveyed was conducted by first-time landlords, the joint lowest level on record. The proportion of buy-to-let mortgages taken out by first-time landlords has decreased steadily over the decade, falling from 42% in the fourth quarter of 2001 to its current level.
John Heron, Paragon Mortgages’ managing director, said: “Landlords are not remortgaging for two reasons – they can’t because of the low number of mortgages available and there is little incentive to do so because the reversion rates when coming off an introductory deal are so attractive due to the low Bank of England Base Rate and Libor. Landlords are happy to stay with their existing lender and we think this will remain the case for the foreseeable future.
“It is encouraging that landlords are now adding to their portfolios. We haven’t experienced the mass sell-off of buy-to-let property during the recession that some commentators were predicting, but buying activity has been subdued. As house prices have stabilised, landlords now obviously believe that it is a good time to start expanding before house price inflation picks up again.
“However, product availability in the buy-to-let market remains low, with only two lenders writing any significant levels of new business. Therefore, it is too early to start talking about the recovery of the sector because investors continue to suffer from a severe lack of competition in the mortgage market.’”