The Financial Conduct Authority is remaining tight-lipped as to whether its newly-announced assessment of MMR will lead to easier access to mortgages for buyers.
The Mortgage Market Review, introduced last April, made it significantly harder for borrowers to access mortgage funds thanks to far more extensive questioning about applicants’ financial position, and restrictions over multiples that could be used as lending criteria by mortgage firms. Many groups, particularly the self-employed, found it considerably harder to secure finance for buying homes.
At the time lending reduced considerably, although even 15 months later there remains debate whether that fall was because of the new rules or because individual applications were dealt with more slowly than usual as the new processes were bedding in.
However, the National Association of Estate Agents has made repeated claims that MMR has led to fewer mortgages being agreed, and delays leading to sale fall-throughs.
Now the Financial Conduct Authority says it is to review the implementation of MMR.
FCA director of strategy and competition Christopher Woolard says no one wants to return to the unaffordable lending practices of the past, so assessments of applicants’ circumstances will remain strict and will require substantial care.
“We do, however, have to remain sensitive to the impact of these reforms over the long run. And we certainly need to keep focussed on outcomes and whether the market is working well. Even if we believe our rules are proportionate, we need to remain alert to how firms are interpreting them and the effect on consumers. That is why we will be undertaking a mortgage market study soon, which will include a review on key aspects of the implementation of the MMR” he says.
The FCA would not expand on the remit or timing of the review - which is thought to be different to the much-vaunted review of buy to let mortgages, which were not subject to the restrictions introduced under MMR.