Here at Property Reporter we like to tackle the big questions surrounding the housing market, and with Christmas drawing ever closer we thought we'd look at how everybody's favourite festive character would fare in the current mortgage market.
We all know Santa Claus as the hardworking, jolly old man who brings presents and joy to us all on 25th December - but with ho-ho-homeownership an aspiration for many of us, would he be able to get on the ladder as well as down the chimney?
Firstly, there's his age to take into consideration. Legends about an old man delivering gifts have been around for centuries in many cultures, so it's safe to say he's old enough to collect his free bus pass (although with his trusty reindeer and famous sleigh he might not need one!). IMLA recently published a report that claimed fears of a future clampdown by regulators are preventing mortgage lenders from offering loans that stretch into people’s retirement. Could this be a problem for Saint Nick? Despite this research from IMLA, Brightstar Financial recently noted that, while some lenders are reluctant to lend to older borrowers, there are still options available - so a nice two-sled semi at the North Pole might not necessarily be out of the question.
As with all mortgage applications in the wake of MMR, checking affordability is key to securing a suitable mortgage product. Allowing for grazing space for Rudolph and co, as well as space for his fabled workshop, our jolly housebuyer will need to borrow more than a few chocolate coins to secure his dream home. While we know he's gainfully - and permanently - employed, Mrs Claus isn't so lucky. With a single income and elves to support, lenders might be worried about how Father Christmas would cope with the imminent rate rises we're all anticipating.
And while we're on the topic of Santa's income, it's difficult to say how this would be calculated. As far as we know there aren't many accountants - or even banks - in the North Pole, meaning providing proof of income could be tricky. If he files his tax returns as a self-employed worker, he could be in luck, as Dudley Building Society recently urged the industry to address self employed lending gaps and to end discrimination against the borrowing needs of the self employed when it comes to home ownership. However, we're not entirely sure that sherry and mince pies count as adequate payment methods and certainly wouldn't cut it with any lenders in the post-MMR landscape.
It looks as though it might not be all chestnuts and open fires for our festive hero, as he falls into several categories of borrowers who are struggling with high prices, loan-to-income caps, and self-employment lending gaps in the current UK mortgage market. With mortgage rates set to rise and 91% having worries about selling up due to high house prices, it looks as though Santa might remain in the North Pole for the foreseeable future. On the other hand, he could always try his luck with Hollyfax, Santa-nder, or Barsleighs...