Homeowners looking to move could receive a helping hand from Nationwide, says Emma Wall in The Daily Telegraph. The building society is offering 95% mortgages to those with small equity stakes. The Save to Buy scheme allows customers who deposit £50 a month in a special savings account access to the ‘Save to Buy’ mortgage. Previously available only to first-time buyers, the five-year, fixed-rate deal, charging 5.99%, requires a 5% deposit.
• The Bank of England says homeowners cut mortgage debt by £8bn in the third quarter of 2012 – the 18th successive quarter in which equity levels rose. Analysts say this is due to the current difficulties in releasing equity.
Jonathan Harris, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, told The Times: “One of the defining features of the financial crisis has been the difficulty in withdrawing equity from property... as lenders rein back on the maximum loan-to-values they will allow and charge higher rates of interest on smaller equity stakes. With property values falling, it is proving undesirable to increase the debt against the roof over your head.”
• If you have ever left money behind in a cash machine, you could get a windfall. HSBC plans to return cash left in its ATMs between 2005 and 2011. Royal Bank of Scotland will also refund 300,000 customers £10m.
There are no refunds for cash left before 2005 as banks are only required to keep six year records, while since April 2011 customers are automatically refunded. The banks will check their records and make automatic refunds. They’ll also add on interest based on rates at the time of withdrawal.
• Saving money is a popular new year’s resolution. Little surprise then that banks are busy competing for custom. Halifax’s current account offers £100 to customers switching from a competitor, plus an interest-free overdraft – not bad, given the average overdraft rate is almost 20%.
Switching should get easier when new rules come in in September. Banks will have to meet a seven-day deadline and will be liable for any charges if payments go astray.