What did you make of the latest lending figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders?
Unsurprising. I think we’re going to continue bumping along like this until the new year. It’s encouraging to see some improvement in the remortgage market but loan criteria are tightening again. Despite the welcome entry of the likes of Aldermore and Precise Mortgages, and the return of Paragon to the buy-to-let space, landlords will have to work hard to bridge the gap. The private rental sector will become more relied upon than Florence Nightingale in the Crimea.
You recently said buy-to-let would be the Atlas of the market, why do you think that?
The government’s plans to cut social housing will cause chaos. Tightened loan and credit criteria have already forced many would-be first-time buyers to remain longer in the private rented sector, adding more pressure to the housing shortage. If the government sticks to its guns, it will be up to property investors and professional landlords to meet demand but they will only succeed if lenders support their efforts.
What does 2011 hold for buy-to-let?
Competition will make lenders enhance criteria and improve products and pricing. We foresee two or three new lenders by the end of Q2 that will ease in gently and be useful lenders by the year-end. Lending up to 75% LTV will be the norm with probably only one or two lenders joining The Mortgage Works at 80% LTV. Best of breed offers will be up to 70% LTV. Volume in the market will be above £10bn but still less than the 12% of mortgages buy-to-let used to represent.
If you were in charge of the Financial Services Authority for a day, what would you do?
Send the policymakers to spend a day in a broker’s office and have them explain to borrowers how the decline of mortgages under the new rules is in their best interests.
Who is the best person you’ve worked with and why?
John Bashford-Shell, the founder of Operation Raleigh, for his unswerving belief that the youth of all nations are our greatest hope.
Do you have any secret talents?
I hold a track category on my driving licence from my army days. I might just borrow a tank and take a trip to Canary Wharf to focus the FSA’s attention.
What book are you reading at the moment?
The Next 100 Years: A Forecast For The 21st Century by George Friedman.
INTERVIEW BY CHRISTINE TONER