Leader: Brokers face make or break

The latest figures out from the Halifax House Price Index showed bizarrely that despite the snow there was actually a 0.8% house price rise for the period between December and January.

Praise-be the brave house hunters who were not put off by the cold – but will we see a similar pattern for the rest of the year? The current predictions certainly don’t look good.

The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries’ quarterly economic bulletin predicts similar housing transactions and lending levels in 2011 as 2010. Considering Halifax has reported a year-on-year 2.4% house price fall, that’s hardly great news.

Meanwhile, Gary Styles, strategy, risk and economics director at Hometrack, predicts in this week’s Mortgage Strategy (see page 25) that gross lending could slip back this year to £132bn, volumes not seen since 2000. In such a diminishing market it’s no surprise many brokers are looking to charge fees to cover their overheads.

Many in the market are looking on 2011 as a make or break period with more consolidation along the way. With dual pricing continuing to make it hard to do business and the increasing costs of regulation even successful brokerages have told Mortgage Strategy that they’re thinking about quitting.

All of which would be a great tragedy. Both the Financial Services Authority on page 24 and the MoneySavingExpert himself Martin Lewis in this week’s cover feature, make the case for the valuable role that brokers play in helping UK consumers find the best deal.

Mortgage Strategy’s Fighting for our Industry campaign continues to garner support and it’s vital that lenders and industry bodies do more than pay lip service to supporting UK brokers.