Wake up to Wales – it’s a buzzing market and a visit might do you some good

From Helen Thomas

Where I live is not generally something to complain about. South and west Wales have some of the most beautiful countryside and seaside. I live 30 minutes away from the popular resort of Tenby and 30 minutes in the other direction from the thriving city of Swansea. You’d think this would be an ideal place to live and start a business, which I did in the first quarter of this year. Little did I know what a drawback it be. Whenever I read the trade press all I ever see is stuff about the issues facing areas in England and sometimes the big cities in Wales, but never rural areas.

The property and mortgage situation in Wales is fascinating. This is an area where we have seen massive growth in property prices, allowing us to catch up with our English cousins, but there is still a massive discrepancy between wage levels in England and Wales. It is even tougher for first-time buyers here than in England. Since increased income multiples, the problem is no longer getting a mortgage for my clients but them finding a property before a landlord snaps it up.

But the most annoying thing is the fact that despite putting business with a huge range of lenders since I started this business, it is startling how many – or rather how few – relationship managers have been out here to see me. This is down to the fact that I live too far away for most people to warrant the trip. I usually find lenders either have me on their flight path as they are seeing other people in my area at the same time or they just can’t be bothered to make it this far. And, of course, the problem with being on a flight path is if one flight gets cancelled, so does your visit.

My location is also a problem when it comes to courses and meetings. Nothing ever takes place in south Wales or west Wales, come to that. This week I have to attend a course in Heathrow which means that I have to leave the house at 5am to get there on time. I wouldn’t mind if it was now and again, but nothing ever comes here.

What I would like to say to all areas of the financial services industry is – wake up to Wales because we have an awful lot to offer. And believe me, you will enjoy the scenery as you drive here. As they say in the tourist board adverts, the word ‘stress’ doesn’t mean anything in Wales. The trip might do you some good.

My advice to small brokers is, make sure you get hold of a copy of Mortgagestream. It’s brilliant.