Halifax “puts cat among the pigeons” with further mortgage rate cuts

Further rate cuts were announced Friday by the Halifax, with the new products set to put the “cat among the pigeons” according to one broker.

Brokers said 5-year fixed money continues to improve, with a 4.73% Homebuyer 5-year fixed rate with a £999 fee, and a 4.84% 5-year fixed rate with no fee, both up to 60% loan-to-value — and that 2-year fixed rate deals are also edging ever closer to 5%.

Justin Moy, managing director at Chelmsford-based EHF Mortgages, welcomed the news and suggested it may not be long before 2-year fixed rates with standard fees breach 5%: “It’s great to see the Halifax reduce rates across their fixed range, with 5-year money still leading the way, now as low as 4.73% with a £999 fee at lower loan-to-values. 2-year rates also continue to creep down towards the magic 5% figure, and maybe that will be the Christmas present lenders give us all after a torrid 12 months.”

Craig Fish, director at Lodestone Mortgages & Protection, was also upbeat but wished lenders would place greater emphasis on those seeking to remortgage: “And just like that, the UK’s largest mortgage lender is back in the game, with some favourable rates, especially at the 60% loan-to-value mark. It is still a shame that lenders seem to be ignoring those who wish to remortgage, and instead are focusing their attention on ‘new blood’, but it’s a positive move and one that should trigger further reductions from competitors.”

Peter Stamford, director at Moor Mortgages, said the lender appears to have shrugged off statements from the Bank of England Governor that the next base rate decision will be tight: “Halifax has ignored Andrew Bailey’s ‘maybe we will, maybe we won’t’ indications on the next base rate decision, and has reduced rates across many of their range. Good on you Halifax and keep them coming.”

Meanwhile, Jack Tutton, director at SJ Mortgages, said it would be interesting to see how other major lenders react to this move: “Halifax has clearly now set its sights on being the market leader. This 5-year fixed rate product appears to be a lot lower than what else is currently available. It will be interesting to see how other lenders such as HSBC and Nationwide react to this decision, as they, too, have been pushing to be top of the best buy tables.”

His views were shared by Steven Hargreaves, mortgage and protection adviser at The Mortgage Co: “This will put the cat among the pigeons. Traditionally, when one of the major lenders drops their rates, the rest follow. Halifax was already sourcing very well due to the last couple of rate drops in the past three weeks, so this really will set them apart from some of the other lenders, who will probably have no choice but to follow. Let the rate war continue.”

Graham Cox, founder at the Self Employed Mortgage Hub added: “Halifax, like other lenders, continues to cut rates and it’s even possible 2-year rates could be below 5% by year end. But for mortgage rates to continue falling, we need inflation to continue its descent. Any bump in the road could see rates start to soar again.” 
But Lewis Shaw, owner at Shaw Financial Services, had reservations about how much this will stimulate the market: “This is positive news for many who’ll be in the process of buying and may be able to switch to a lower rate. Hopefully, this will cause other lenders to follow suit, although it’s unlikely to bring the market back to life any time soon.”

Ben Tadd, director at Chippenham- and Bath-based broker, Lucra Mortgages, concluded: “Rates coming down further is only good news for existing homeowners and prospective buyers alike. The mini rate war that began in July continues to rumble on, with the biggest mortgage provider in the UK cutting their already competitive rates down further. With much of the final quarter of 2023 still remaining, lenders still have annual lending targets to hit, so will be forced to follow suit and reduce their rates further to compete for market share. Those borrowers whose fixed-rate mortgages are due to expire in the next 6-12 months will be watching on with a faint optimism that the new rate they will be moving on to might not be as bad as they’d initially feared.”