BARCLAYS and NatWest have cut the amount home buyers can borrow by up to 18%, leading to fears more lenders will follow suit.
Barclays is now capping home loans to 4.49 times the borrower’s salary, down from 5.5 times, a difference of 18%.
The high street lender introduced the limit on Friday without warning, and is applying it to applications that have already been submitted.
It means hopeful buyers won’t be able to afford homes previously within their budget or face stumping up a bigger deposit to make up the difference.
For example, someone earning £25,000 a year previously would have been able to borrow up to £137,500 but now they are limited to £112,500.
The cap won’t apply to mortgage deals that have already been offered but are waiting to complete.
Meanwhile, NatWest reduced the amount it is willing to lend to self-employed workers who apply for a loan from September 4 onwards.
It has issued a new mortgage calculator to brokers that limits borrowing to 4.25 times the borrower’s earnings, instead of 4.9 times before – a 13% drop.
For someone who earns £25,000 a year, the amount they can borrow is reduced by £16,250 – from £122,500 to £106,250.
Typically, mortgage customers can borrow up to 4.5 times their annual salary but it depends on the conditions set by the lender.
There are other factors that can also affect how much you can borrow, such as your credit score and the size of your deposit – the best deals are given to the least risky customers.
But now there are fears more lenders could follow suit, locking many potential buyers out of purchasing their first or next home.
Mortgage broker Rachel Dixon, from RH Dixon, said: “I’m disappointed at the banks’ sudden change of rules.
“These decisions clearly show lenders are concerned about the future of the economy, the end of furlough, the direction of house prices.
“I expect more lenders to follow in coming weeks.”
It’s the latest in a string of restrictions borrowers now have to overcome following the economic impact of the coronavirus lockdown.
Nervous lenders pulled almost all mortgages that only required a 5% or 10% deposit in the immediate aftermath.
And while some 10% deposit mortgages have returned, it’s still only 6% of the number of deals on offer this time last year, according to figures from comparison site Moneyfacts.
Flat buyers are also being locked out of some of the best deals, meaning first-time buyers won’t be able to make the most of the government’s Help to Buy equity loan scheme.
On top of this, Nationwide is refusing to lend to first-time buyers whose entire deposit has been gifted to them, by the bank of mum and dad for example.
Furloughed workers are struggling to get a mortgage too, as lenders wait until the scheme ends and redundancies begin to take affect before offering loans.
It comes as the government hope to stimulate the economy through the housing market by temporarily axing stamp duty for all properties worth up to £500,000 until March.
A spokesperson for Natwest told The Sun: “We continually review our proposition to ensure it is in line with current market conditions.”
A Barclays spokesperson added: “We regularly review our lending policies and today have made some changes to loan-to-income multiples.”