But it must be said that the broker sector does not often come across as being behind the times or lacking in initiative. Far from it.
At the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries, we are always invigorated by the way our membership adapts to fresh challenges and turns them into business opportunities.
It is this sort of forward thinking that shapes the way we act, as your trade body.
This is something we say a lot but it remains true that a trade body is only as good as its members want it to be. As your businesses progress along with the market, it is our job not only to keep up but also to pre-empt your needs in regard to information and regulation.
With this in mind, it is our intention that 2007 will be the year we add further strings to the AMI bow in terms of member benefits.
You might already know that we are revamping the AMI website to make it more user-friendly and provide even more information for members.
My last column also indicated our intention to establish a packager task force, an idea which has already gathered significant mo-mentum. We are in the process of putting this together and plan to meet in early April.
Our most recent member re-source is our Quarterly Economic Bulletin. Since AMI was established it has delivered presentations on regulatory issues and the prevailing economic environment.
It has become apparent that this type of information, from a trusted source, is useful to members in providing data and analysis regarding economic trends.
That being the case, we decided to formulate this information into a document which could present members with the prevailing economic highlights while providing a view as to the direction in which these indicators might move.
We have also fo-cussed on the UK housing and mortgage markets, drilling down into information on sectors such as buy-to-let and equity release as well as figures on mortgage delinquencies.
Our latest issue, covering Q1 2007, covers economic data including consumer price inflation, interest rates, house prices and figures for gross domestic product, unemployment and earnings growth.
Housing market data includes house prices, property transactions, mortgage to income ratios, the proportion of income spent on interest and housing market confidence indicators and forecasts.
Mortgage market data covers net advances, mortgage approvals, nominal spot curve data and information on buy-to-let including values paid by landlords for new purchases, rents and yields.
Our first bulletin of the year shows some challenges on the horizon. Slower economic growth compounded by a higher than anticipated Bank of England base rate suggests that unemployment could rise further.
We believe that the constraints on property supply – arguably the principal driver of house price rises – will sustain house price inflation in the short term.
The lesson of 2004 when an increase in interest rates caused a levelling off of house prices late that year and into early 2005 seems to point to a slowdown in mortgage volumes. The longer rates stay high (and the higher they go), the more dramatic the slowdown will be.
The full bulletin is available to members from the AMI website at www.a-m-i.org.uk and the bulletin for Q2 will be available in May.