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A better year ahead beckons the savvy

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David Finlay Intermediary Business Director Barclays

It’s that time of year when we get a little dizzy looking back over the past 12 months and then returning to the present. Reflecting on 2010, lending figures were disappointing but not unexpected.

Despite strong support from distribution partners, intermediary firms have found the conditions tough. But I believe that the number of brokers leaving the industry has bottomed out.

Looking back, my predictions for 2010 are not dissimilar to those for 2011. I expect comparable gross mortgage lending, improving towards the second half of the year.

The purchase market will remain challenging, with house prices fluctuating between increases and falls of 2%. And we have to be wary of government influence on the market in terms of policy, expenditure and resulting consumer confidence.

However, there will be some growth. The remortgage, buy-to-let and niche areas such as bridging and secured loans will all hopefully continue to add impetus.

Inevitably, there will be new entrants that will help innovation and competition. Although these are gratefully received I expect volumes from such lenders to be relatively small.

But the broker market will drive growth. Next year won’t herald the return of the good old days and I am not sure they were that good anyway. But opportunities remain for savvy brokers, and for those willing to embrace these conditions, prospects are certainly brighter than at this time last year.

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