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New build Q&A: Douglas Cochrane, Halifax Intermediaries

Stakeholder engagement helps us shape sector for clients and brokers

Q: What do you foresee for the new-build market this year?

A: Fairly similar to 2017 – with likely low, single-digit growth in volumes from established housebuilders. I hope to see more development of concepts like modern methods of construction to help SMEs compete and to address potential skills and materials issues arising from Brexit uncertainty. The Government announced a number of positive measures in November’s Budget to stimulate supply; however, these will take time to impact output.

Q: Why is the new-build sector important to the housing market and is its relevance increasing?

A: The new-build sector, private and public, is uniquely placed to shape the UK’s future housing needs and to support long-term economic (employment and investment), social and envir­onmental growth through increased productivity across the UK.

Q: How are you helping mortgage intermediaries when it comes to new-build cases?

A: Our specialism in the sector is demonstrated by providing specific products, appropriate policies and a bespoke service tailor-made for the brokers and their clients’ needs.

Q: What has your biggest challenge been in your role as head of housing development at Halifax Intermediaries?

A: Acting as the bridge between the manufacturer (builder), the adviser (broker) and their customer. It is crucial that Halifax Intermediaries and other lenders help all builders see the need to understand the image, positive and negative, they can create of their industry. Reputations can be easily lost and hard to recover in terms of quality, transparency and so on.

Q: What role is Halifax taking in developing and building support in the sector?

A: Halifax Intermediaries is our lead mortgage brand in new-build, providing a wide range of products, services and policies designed to reflect the nuances of the sector, i.e. supporting brokers with affordable housing, higher LTVs, long offer periods and bespoke servicing. Our stakeholder engagement in the sector provides the opportunity to contribute to the shaping of the industry for the benefit of customers and their intermediaries.

Q: If you had not chosen this career path, what else would you have liked to do?

A: Become a mechanical engineer. I have always enjoyed tinkering with and stripping engines; the only problem is putting them back together!

Q: Who is your all-time hero, and why?

A: David Bowie –­ not only for his creativity but because he had the confidence to be different and to be true to himself.

Q: What is the best advice you have received?

A: Live every day like it is your last – one day you will be right!

Q: If you were chancellor for a day, what would you make your priorities?

A: Taxing combined household income and not individually!


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