I’ve covered a variety of topics in this column – from house prices and transactions to lenders’ service levels and attracting new brokers into the market.
On these issues, and many others raised by my peers across the industry, there is rarely enough commentary or debate.
But Ricky Okey, in his previous role as managing director of Abbey for Intermediaries, was an exception to this rule.
He was prepared to stick his head above the parapet, even when others were taking pot shots. Most product providers tend to stick to bland self-advertisement rather than engage in interactive debate.
And as a guest at Mortgage Strategy’s Mortgage Summit on May 24-25 I am looking forward to the opportunity for some serious discussion.
This event will be a great opportunity for lenders and brokers to find innovative ways of working together and provide a platform for airing some important issues in the industry.
For my part, I will be using the Summit as a chance to give fellow delegates an insight into the housing market.
Of course, there are some key elements in play which will affect the housing market.
For example, the remortgaging sector is almost dead and will, in my view, remain that way for some time. Meanwhile, interest rates are likely to stay flat for the rest of the year and customers moving off lenders’ SVRs is a big ask at the moment.
I will be using the Summit as a chance to provide delegates with an insight into the housing market
Our transaction figures for the year to date reveal a pretty modest increase compared with last year but encouragingly, we have seen a 25% rise in vendor instructions.
Many pundits said the general election would put a damper on sales activity but right in the middle of the campaign we had our best single sales week for two years.
That said, transactions this year are up marginally compared with last year, while property prices are increasing steadily. I am advised by a director of a high-end estate agency in London that prices and transactions at the upper end of the market – deals over £5m – are rising dramatically.
I hope this will cascade down to the mid-level market in the near future.
What’s encouraging is increased competition in the 90%-plus LTV market, which can only be good news for first-time buyers.
Skipton Building Society recently launched a 95% LTV product for branch customers, and there are also 90% LTV deals available via Connells and Pink Home Loans. I believe we will see more 95% LTV products come onto the market in the remainder of this year, but expect to see none higher than this.
Constraining factors include Lloyds Banking Group taking measures to tighten its criteria and imposing restrictions on interest-only lending, which will not be allowed on deals over £500,000. The group will also require more specific repayment details on smaller loans.
I think this makes sense but it’s nevertheless a drag on volume compared with last year.
The upcoming Summit will provide a much-needed opportunity to debate this and other important issues affecting the mortgage market so we can find ways for brokers and lenders to interact more effectively.