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Look to niche areas for ongoing growth

The avalanche of lenders changing their interest-only policies over the past few weeks is likely to cause a ripple effect among small lenders that will find themselves swamped with applications.

Of course this is not the only change affecting the intermediary market – there is also the lack of lending appetite being displayed by the big six.

The constant system crashes, withdrawal of entire product ranges and tightening of policy are all signs of the challenges lenders are grappling with at the moment.

If a big lender sneezes, small lenders catch a cold. The service of many second tier lenders is under pressure and we will see an increase in product withdrawals with little or no notice.

While this backdrop doesn’t look favourable, parts of the market are enjoying growth.

Buy-to-let looks as though it will expand again this year and with rental demand likely to continue to increase, it should be a good place for brokers to focus.

Near-prime is growing and with the continued squeeze on prime criteria, more and more borrowers will be unable to get a mortgage on the high street.

Bridging and short-term lending are also in expansion mode, fuelled by investors looking to boost their property portfolios to tap the buoyant rental demand.

It is going to be many years before the government’s building plans have any appreciable effect so for now the focus is likely to move towards products that support the private rented sector.

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