This week has been a week of mixed fortunes in the personal finance world.
In property, the Halifax reported that there were more first-time buyers looking for homes last year than at any time since the financial crash in 2007.
The research estimated there were around 335,000 first-time buyers in 2016, the highest since more than 350,000 were searching for new homes in 2007. The average first-time buyer deposit has doubled since 2007 and now stands at more than £32,000 – it was just over £15,000 a decade ago.
2016 was also the year where the average price for a first home tipped £200,000, according to the mortgage lender.
Yet, Lloyds Bank research says that in 2016 less people moved home – the first time the figures have dropped in five years.
The bank says that 354,000 houses were bought and sold, 4% down on 2015. This news comes when it is reported that more people are facing difficulties repaying loans and overdrafts.
Lenders reported to the Bank of England’s Credit Conditions Survey that default levels on unsecured debt rose in the final three months of 2016.
Debt write-offs have been at historically low levels, but the demand and availability of credit has been increasing and the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has already said that the Bank is going to be vigilant about unsecured debt levels as they have risen to their highest level in 11 years.
In the world of banking, HSBC has agreed to repay thousands of shoppers who spent on credit, but were overcharged when they missed repayments.
Between 2003 and 2009, nearly 7000 customers were charged an “unreasonable” amount and will be compensated to the tune of £4 million. When customers fell behind with their payments they were charged 16.4% of their outstanding balances as a debt collection fee.
The Office of Fair Trading deemed this charge was unreasonable in 2010. Affected customers will be contacted directly by HSBC.
In personal finance, a new survey has shown that men pay £101 more for car insurance than women.
On average men paid an insurance premium of £812 for fully comprehensive car insurance at the end of last year, compared to £711 for women. The premiums are higher despite there being legislation in place that bans insurers from considering gender when calculating insurance premiums.
In other insurance news, the Co-op has been ordered to give clearer insurance quotations by the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA), after it failed to tell drivers about a separate charge for no claims bonuses.
The CMA ordered all insurance companies to separate the additional charges for extra protection, but the Co-op was the only insurance company that missed the August deadline to implement the changes. As a result, more than 100,000 people received unclear quotes.
The Co-op has now solved the issue and from the beginning of February customers will receive two quotes, one with no claims bonus protection and one without.