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Brokers must wake up to EU threat

The mortgage industry has had more than its fair share of government intervention over the past few years. Mortgage regulation cost a lot and produced lots of paper but there’s no evidence that it has led to consumers shopping around more or getting better mortgage deals.

On the positive side we’ve started to see action in dealing with some of the rogues in the market that give us all a bad name. If it helps run the cowboys out of town it’s great news for the industry, but that will be thanks to the Financial Services Authority showing its teeth rather than government intervention.

Some time ago we had the U-turn on self-invested personal pensions which created many problems for brokers and clients. Those who bought off-plan properties to go straight into SIPPs probably had sleepless nights trying to unravel the mess created by the chancellor’s change of mind.

Recently, we had another remarkable volte face from the government, this time over Home Information Packs. Here it was bowing to pressure from all quarters as its proposals were unworkable. At least that was better than ploughing ahead regardless of industry opinion. But even then the government only changed tack once the industry had sunk a reported 225m into getting ready for HIPs.

And now a more pernicious government threat looms on the horizon, this time from across the water. New EU mortgage directives could throw our industry into disarray. The UK has the most dynamic and competitive mortgage market in the EU but Brussels wants to unify regulation across the 25 member states.

This would have the effect of dragging us down to the lowest common denominator and boost other mortgage markets at our expense. I have a mortgage in Spain and the market there – while above the European average – is about 10 years behind ours.

Any such regulation could have a big impact not only on lenders but also on brokers and their clients. Chris Cummings and his team at the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries are doing a ster- ling job informing the industry and lobbying on our behalf, helping to shape and influence the directive before it is finalised.

It’s time for brokers to get up-to-speed on this important issue and to stand up and be counted. They should lend their support to AMI and take the opportunity to look at its latest factsheet that can be found at www.a-m-i.org.uk.

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