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MS Leader: A toast to the year ahead

The Council of Mortgage Lenders’ annual dinner in December has long been, like the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association’s dinner in September, a way to gauge the relative health of the industry.

At the height of the market in 2005, the CML held its annual dinner at a hotel in Hammersmith and such was the noise created in the room by the hundreds of people toasting a record year of £288bn in gross mortgage lending no one could hear the CML’s former director general Michael Coogan give his opening speech that year.

And after a long delay between a curious sorbet sludge starter and main course the alcohol fuelled revelry started to get too much for many in the room.

This was an industry with its cup running over – and as we all know, the hangover from those years of excess have been long, painful with frequent purges.

Thankfully for those in attendance last week, in contrast to its 2005 event, the trade body’s 2012 dinner on the Embankment in London last Wednesday was a class act.

And at the end of his opening speech Council of Mortgage Lenders’ director general Paul Smee, taking advantage of an industry actually listening to what he was saying, pointed out that for the mortgage industry, “in 2012 the glass was half empty”.

“Let 2013 be the year when it becomes half full again,” he added. We couldn’t agree more.

As our cover feature this week shows, this has been a year of tough regulatory battles, flat lending, with the market still typified by a lack of confidence and insecurity.

While 2013 will be no bed of roses – just check out the predictions made by Hometrack’s Gary Styles on page 22 this week – hopefully it will be the year when the market starts to take on a more positive outlook.

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