MS leader: Keep smiling through

The Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association’s annual bash in September is always a good bellwether for how the industry is doing.

In 2007, 2008 and 2009 it was unsurprisingly like attending a wake, with many giving last rites to an industry they judged to be in terminal decline as the economic bad news engulfed not just the mortgage sector but the entire country.

In 2010 and 2011 there was certainly a more upbeat mood, with the survivors happy to still be around and some making grand predictions that products like secured loans would be the next big thing. Just a quick look at the results of Loans Warehouse’s latest secured loan index on page 9 this week shows that while things are looking more upbeat for second charge loans, the industry is still a shadow of its former self.

Talk at the 2012 IMLA bash last Thursday was of lending targets, rental caps as a good thing and even equity release being seriously mentioned as the next big thing.

Even some seriously anti-lender jokes from comedian Ruby Wax, who was providing the entertainment for the evening, failed to dent the positive mood.

That said, some people were understandably frustrated at the pace of change. But as a senior member of the industry pointed out, while the figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders were hardly anything to write home about – August was static on the same period last year – there was a lot to be positive about.

In the context of a tough economic environment and a summer most people spent glued to their TVs watching the Olympics, the fact that we’re on track to hit the same amount as last year is something that the market should be genuinely pleased by.

And with the Funding for Lending scheme and NewBuy both starting to make their mark, there could be something to genuinely cheer about at IMLA’s next annual bash in 2013.