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Mortgage market is such a funny old game nowadays

Manchester United has in recent years been a football team in transition. This season it has had to cope with long-term injuries to defenders, an ageing midfield, and the incorporation of a host of young players.

Despite these challenges, the season has been far from a write-off.

While it hasn’t hit the heights of 2008, it was still in the race to win the league until the final minutes of the season, despite its performances against Manchester City.

Likewise, the mortgage market is in a state of flux, coping with the economic recession, and the return of Stamp Duty for first-time buyers to name but a few challenges.

But while it is a long way from its pre-2008 level, there are still areas of potential success for valuers and brokers alike.

Lenders are unlikely to increase their commitment to the first-time buyer market significantly in coming months, given the stalled economy and financial turmoil on the continent. But one area that is experiencing growth is buy-to-let.

In Q1 buy-to-let mortgages accounted for 12.5% of the whole market, compared to 11.6% a year ago.

This trend has continued, with 68% more valuations for buy-to-let investors in April than last year – not to mention the rising business due to demand for full building surveys on prospective purchases.

With first-time buyer business unlikely to take off, growth in the buy-to-let market is providing a burgeoning source of business for brokers, lenders and surveyors alike. This will continue as prospective investors look to take advantage of unprecedented tenant demand.

The remortgage market is also showing promise. Admittedly, it’s still a long way from the level seen before the credit crunch, but it has been rising in recent weeks.

Lending for house purchase is unlikely to rocket, but remortgaging and buy-to-let are looking healthier

For example, the British Bankers’ Association has reported that banks alone saw remortgage lending increase by 7% month on month in March, and in April we completed 33% more valuations for remortgagers than a year ago.

This boost is largely down to recent rate changes. Increases to SVRs by lenders such as Halifax and Clydesdale have given borrowers a greater incentive to shop around, and they are increasingly looking to lock into longer-term fixed rates, even though the Bank rate remains at a record low.

It’s true that some homeowners are hampered by weakened house prices, and when their properties are valued, a lack of equity is hindering moves on to more attractive deals.
Nevertheless, remortgaging is both viable and the most financially sensible option for many as rates rise.

With funding conditions likely to lead to more rises in the short-term, remortgaging should provide a growing stream of income in the mortgage industry.

Given the challenges the mortgage market faces, we can’t expect it to grow on every front.

Lending for house purchase is unlikely to rocket this year, but areas such as remortgaging and buy-to-let are looking healthier.

Firms that can identify opportunities for growth should see the market as a Manchester United side in transition rather than the current Wolverhampton Wanderers squad in decline.


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  • Mike Cullen 9th June 2012 at 10:12 am

    Lies, damned lies, and statistics, really. This is all fascinating, but counter that with valuers insisting a 30 year old property has to meet current buidling regs, despite their being no such legal or lender requirement, lenders taking between 25 – 55 minutes to answer the phone, lenders typiclaly are 5 – 7 days behind on post, subjective declines, so thanks for the patronising comments, but we do know our market and it is struggling.