The mortgage broking community is reeling from the shock news that research conducted by UCB Home Loans indicates people in the 16-21 age bracket are not particularly keen on becoming mortgage brokers.And there is even worse news for brokers as the research – undertaken in October among more than 1,000 young people – reveals that two-thirds of those interviewed would rather be an estate agent than a mortgage broker! Quite why is anyone’s guess but two-thirds of 16-21-year-olds would rather sell bricks rather than the finance to purchase them. And as we report on page 6, it’s more or less the same throughout the country with London being the only region in which more youngsters would prefer to be mortgage brokers. Estate agency might seem a strange career choice but you have to remember that in this unregulated sector, there’s plenty of opportunity to make fast money. And now, with the launch date for Home Information Packs set for June 1 2007, estate agents could emerge as the biggest threat yet to the mortgage broking community. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that estate agents have the potential to be at the forefront of HIPs, and that most will offer clients heavily subsidised discounts on packs – provided they use the firm’s mortgage adviser. But the problems don’t stop there. Ratings agency Fitch suggests HIPs could create further conflicts of interest. A report from the agency rightly points out that the question arises as to whether lenders (or indeed buyers) should commit funds based on a ‘marketing’ pack prepared by an unregulated estate agent with no responsibility to either buyers or lenders. What’s more, it’s possible those preparing Home Condition Reports could be susceptible to pressure from estate agents motivated, as ever, by the commission they will make from the sale. Be warned. Taking your eye off the ball now could seriously damage your wealth.