Abbey and Nationwide tighten lending

Another day brings another shuffle in the mortgage market, taking home loans further out of reach.

The UK’s largest mortgage lender, Nationwide, will reduce it’s maximum loan-to-value (LTV) to 90% on Thursday, on all of its products for new borrowers except its three-year fixed rate mortgage and its three-year tracker, where a 5% deposit is required.

The building society is also cutting its maximum loan size from £1 million to £500,000, and only offering its standard variable rate mortgage to customers who can stump up a 25% deposit.

Nationwide’s SVR mortgage of 6.24% has proved popular recently because it had become cheaper than some of its fixed and tracker-rate deals.

Nationwide's divisional director for mortgages, Matthew Carter, said: "These changes will allow us to maintain control of the volume of business the Society is attracting, while enabling us to continue offering our full range of mortgages to our existing members in a controlled and prudent way."

Yet the news will come as a huge blow to borrowers who are already struggling to find a mortgage in the shrinking market. Nationwide says existing borrowers will not be affected by the changes and will continue to have access to all products up to 95% LTV, yet those with less than 5% equity will find it difficult to remortgage because large LTV loans have become very thin on the ground.

Meanwhile, Abbey has announced plans to tighten the criteria surrounding interest-only loans. From today, those wanting to take out or switch to an interest-only loan in order to reduce monthly repayments by repaying just the interest and not the capital of the loan – will need equity worth at least 50% of the property’s value. 

The moves come as lenders are increasingly reluctant to lend against a backdrop of falling house prices. Figures released from the Land Registy yesterday show house prices fell by 0.4% to an average £184,798 in March.

Louise Cuming, head of mortgages at, said: "Despite the Bank of England shoring up the mortgage market with an injection of £50 billion, these announcements from Abbey and Nationwide show there is no limit to the amount of bad tidings homeowners can receive.

"Abbey’s announcement comes amid a growing concern that too many interest-only mortgages are being taken out as a way of reducing payments, without much thought being given to how the mortgage will eventually be repaid.

“While Nationwide’s move to cut it’s maximum lending to £500,000 shows the credit freeze is spreading further up the rungs of the housing ladder."

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