Stay alive to cash in when buyers return to market

Is it just me or is the rest of the mortgage industry also fed up with reading that house prices are going to have to drop by 40% before the market recovers, and that mortgage lending for 2009 will be less than price of a plasma TV?

We all know it’s going to be tough but it seems that everyone has found a statistic which shows the mortgage market and the economy are in the worst state since time began.

But now that we have removed all sharp instruments from the office and are getting on with generating business, we’ve seen an increase in mortgage applications.

Of course, the word increase has been removed from the mortgage dictionary in the past year or so, along with words such as volume, exclusives and margins. And in fairness, the rise in applications we have seen is only small but at least it’s a move in the right direction, and having spoken to a number of brokers I know they are seeing a few green shoots emerging too.

They have also added a chunky amount of insurance business to their stable of products and are asking themselves why they didn’t do this before.

As a result, we have seen insurance income rise to its highest level. It seems our training and encouragement has paid off. I am sure other networks will have seen similar positive signs.

Meanwhile, well done to the Building Societies Association for speaking out against a further drop in rates for all the right reasons.

BSA director-general Adrian Coles says the problem lies with mortgage availability rather than the cost of mortgages, and he’s spot on.

There are now more consumers worried about being able to get a mortgage than worried about whether they can afford one.

And don’t get me started on the plight of savers who are having to exist on hugely reduced incomes from their nest eggs. Can someone explain to me how reducing interest rates is supposed to encourage them to save?

I have also managed to find some positive statistics which could be helpful to include in brokers’ SAS-style survival kit bags.

Propertyfinder.com reports that 11% more consumers contacted estate agents about buying in January this year than in December last year, primarily at the bottom of the market.

The website claims that first-time buyer interest has increased by 50% in the past three months.

Nobody knows for sure what 2009 will bring, and it would be just so British to imagine the worst and then be pleasantly surprised that things didn’t work out as badly as expected.

But as a broker, you should ensure you have your survival kit fully stocked, understand your business, know where the stress fractures are and fix them.

Times will be tough and although I can see a few snowdrops peeping through I’m keeping the sharp objects in the cupboard for the time being.