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Scots cash in as mortgage bills down by £1000

RECORD low interest rates have left Scottish homeowners almost £1000 a year better off compared to five years ago, figures show.

Figures published by Halifax has shown the average mortgage in Scotland now costs £4632 annually, a reduction of more than 15% compared to the 2009 total.

The drop, along with pay increases, means the proportion of wages paid out on mortgages has also reduced drastically, from an average of more than a quarter five years ago to 18.9% now.

But the price of mortgages has risen in London and the south east by up to £2000 in the same period.

Soaring property prices in south England has been seen as a factor behind Bank of England governor Mark Carney's suggestion this week that a interest rate rise could happen "sooner than markets currently expect".

Michael Luck, managing director of Slater, Hogg & Howison estate agents, the largest estate and letting agent in Scotland, warned that an interest rise to address the situation in the south would be dangerous for the market north of the Border.

"There is no evidence in most parts of Scotland of an overheating of the property market," he said. "It would be to stem overheating of London. They should not deal with a London and south east problem by penalising the rest of the country.

"In Glasgow, you can buy a lot of property for under £100,000 and quite a lot for under £80,000. It is affordable and not suffering massive inflation. It (an interest rate rise) would be bad for the property market and the whole economy. The property market in most parts of Scotland is highly fragile."

Mr Luck said that while mortgage costs had become more affordable as a result of low interest rates, the best deals had eluded those without large deposits.

"People with mortgages already have benefitted hugely," he added. "But they are not all that affordable if you do not have a big deposit. The market is very segregated now. There are those who have big deposits and great credit ratings, and those who do not."

According to the Halifax research, only homeowners in Northern Ireland had experienced a greater fall in mortgage payments over the past half-decade, after interest rates plummeted to 0.5% in 2009.

Public sector workers in Scotland pay 18.5% of their disposable income on mortgage payments while those in the private sector pay 19.2% - the lowest levels in Britain.

Craig McKinlay, Halifax mortgage director, said: "Scotland is the clear winner for mortgage affordability for public and private sector workers, with a mortgage there taking up an average of only 18% of a new public sector salary, which is substantially less than the UK average.

"In the majority of regions, mortgages are substantially more affordable today than they have been in years.

"In fact, new mortgage borrowers are spending far less on their mortgages than the high point of the market in 2007, when people were spending close to half of their income on their mortgage.

"The reality is mortgage affordability outside of London and the South East is close to its best level for 12 years. In London, however, affordability is worse than it was in 2009, as the capital has shown exceptional house price growth."

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