One to One: Deborah Reeves, key relationship manager, Skipton Building Society

Reeves_Deborah

A desire for stronger links between lenders and developers, a call for lenders to factor in new-builds to affordability models – and a childhood spent dancing

What trends and events do you expect in the post-Brexit new-build market?

After an initial handful of customers walk away from new-build deals, I expect to see a defiant sector where buyers are still happy to invest.

The short term has proved that new-build can continue to do well despite post-Brexit uncertainty, and at Skipton we have seen a comparatively strong Q2 in applications, so hopefully the market is continuing to stabilise quickly. The dependency on Help to Buy, and how potentially it is replaced, will have a big impact on this but overall I am still excited to be involved in the new-build space.

How should the mortgage market adapt?

I am keen to see stronger links between lenders and developers, building on relationships and better understanding each other. Lenders will need to understand client situations and help new-build borrowers to achieve their goals. The design of products will be key alongside criteria and longer fixed terms.

In a survey Skipton carried out this year, 54 per cent of borrowers said they had bought new-builds because of lower heating bills, through better thermal efficiency, and lower maintenance costs, through builder and appliance guarantees.

Unfortunately, neither of these reasons are reflected in lenders’ affordability calculations to help new-build borrowers. Because new-build houses are energy efficient, owners have lower heating and running costs compared to those buying older homes, so this should be reflected in affordability calculations.

Although lenders’ current affordability models are generally simple to use and provide a good guide, they do not recognise the benefits of owning a modern, well-insulated and low-maintenance home.

If lenders could factor new-builds into their affordability models, it could mean larger, affordable loans being granted for new-build borrowers. If we are serious about delivering one million new homes by 2020, we need to revisit lending criteria and affordability for new-build borrowers, who could benefit from reduced outgoings. This would be a step in the right direction and could see lending evolve to meet the challenges of the housing market.

As a child, what was your dream job?

A ballroom dancer. I spent years having lessons and taking dance exams; the glitz and glamour seemed like a great way of life.

Do you have any secret talents?

No, but I wish I had. The ability to sing would be good. I married into a family of talented singers, so I feel very average in comparison.

What are your hobbies?

Netball; I play in a league in Essex every week. I also enjoy running (I completed the London Marathon last year and it gave me the running bug), walks with my little dog (a 10-month-old Shih Tzu) and the odd glass of red wine.

What is the best advice you have received?

Control the controllables. One of my first managers gave me this advice as I often try to find reasons and I become frustrated with things I cannot change or influence.

Who is your all-time hero, and why?

My granddads, both of whom grew up through the Second World War. I wish I had been able to chat to them more about their experiences. They had brilliant humour and true family values.

If you were not in your current role, what would you like to be doing?

Baking cakes. Maybe I would have a little tea and cake shop somewhere in the countryside. I find baking really therapeutic and my carrot cake is a favourite among family and friends.

What is the toughest decision you have made?

Probably my biggest decision was to move to Essex from my home town in Leicestershire.

I met an ‘Essex boy’ and his job was less flexible so I made the move. The distance was initially a big deal but I soon settled into Essex life.

If you were Chancellor for a day, what would you do?

Keeping to the new-build theme, I would loosen rules for councils to enable them to build on existing public land.

COMPANY PROFILE

Year established: 1853
Headcount: Around 1,650
Address: The Bailey
Skipton
North Yorkshire BD23 1DN
Tel: 0345 850 1700
Web:  www.skipton.co.uk

HISTORY
The firm was founded by George Kendall as the Skipton and District Permanent Benefit District Building Society. It was renamed as Skipton Building Society in 1928.

Now the mutual has 750,000 members, group assets of £13.9bn and more than 100 branches nationwide.