Supper Club guests
• Andy Mannion, RSC New Homes
• Alison Darby, AMG Financial Services
• David Wayne, AMG Financial Services
• Daniel Bell, Direct Mortgages
• Michelle Morrison, Revive Mortgages
• Richard Major, Professional Mortgage Services
• Alistair Macarthur, Professional Mortgage Services
• Alex Parks, RSC New Homes
• Laura Coyne, Manifest
• Dean Savage, Professional Mortgage Services
• Penny Wrigley, Professional Mortgage Services
• Amy-Louise Parkin, Professional Mortgage Services
• Richard Level, Professional Mortgage Services
• Neil Mellor, Aspire
• Karen Bowman, national intermediary distribution manager, Leeds Building Society
• Alison Barker, business development manager, North West, Leeds Building Society
• Abigail Jones, intermediary marketing manager, Leeds Building Society
• Victoria Hartley, group editor, Mortgage Solutions and Your Mortgage
• Hannah Uttley, senior reporter, Mortgage Solutions
• Oonagh Sheehan, commercial manager, Mortgage Solutions
Location: The Living Room, 80 Deansgate, Manchester M3 2ER
Recommended dish: Slow-cooked beef blade pie
First on the agenda for brokers at the Supper Club was a topic close to home; the local economy and housing market. Brokers agreed that Manchester has seen a vast shift since the 2008/09 financial crisis, with development getting back on its feet.
One broker noted that during the 1970s just 3,000 people lived in Manchester’s citycentre, which has shot up to around 40,000 almost 50 years’ later. The city is now unrecognisable from its guise 15 to 20 years ago, he added.
“We always said the two best things that happened to Manchester were the IRA bomb and the Commonwealth Games, because both just gave the city chances to regenerate,” he said.
“It was a problem when the credit crunch happened insomuch as it stalled development. People who bought apartments and flats at that time couldn’t sell them because why would someone want to buy a second-hand one, 18 months old, when there’s a cheaper new-build one down the road. But that seems to have worked its way through now.”
These regeneration efforts have clearly fed through to the success of local businesses, with recruitment of fresh talent on the cards for most brokers around the table.
One broker explained that government support has been a real catalyst for business volumes in areas like new-build homes. “We’ve seen about a 40% increase in business just from new-build properties, and there’s a lot more new-build sites opening month-on month. Builders with Help to Buy funding especially are really pushing forward with developments that were mothballed from six or seven years ago,” he added.
Breaking into the new-build market isn’t without its challenges though, as brokers agreed a good relationship with developers was essential to managing expectations, both from the customer and builder’s point of view.
Brokers explained that many developers will grant a customer offer on a new-build home on the premise that the exchange of contracts takes place within 28 days, which can prove a headache for brokers unable to get cases accepted by lenders in time.
“I think it’s all about educating the developers,” another broker added. “And explaining to them that obviously there’s these lenders that operate in these timeframes, and there’s reasons why we can’t always go to those lenders that will do it within a week.
“As long as we’re notifying them up front and they’re aware of that, and it’s progressing throughout that 28 days, then there are no issues.”
With builders off the hook during the debate, brokers targeted their criticism at estate agents. Chairperson Victoria Hartley referred to a recent FCA report revealing that some estate agents had been found to be misleading customers they must obtain mortgage advice in-house in order for a deal to be completed.
Brokers agreed that this was a problem that occurred regularly.
“I had a case fall through because my client was coming through me rather than going through the broker in the estate agents,” one broker said. “So you either increase the price you’re prepared to pay or you miss out. And they missed out.”
The FCA’s feedback statement on its Call for Inputs on competition in the mortgage sector published alongside its Responsible Lending Review raised a number of questions about the supply chain relationships within the mortgage market, and whether these were acting as a barrier to consumer choice.
So why is it that the regulator is still concerned that consumers aren’t getting everything they need, two years after the Mortgage Market Review?
“Because it’s the usual sledgehammer to crack a nut,” one attendee commented. “The FCA just assumes that everybody is an idiot and can be taken advantage of by unscrupulous people, and they’ve got to do everything they can to protect them.”
But brokers ended the evening on a positive note, agreeing that they are in a good position to maintain strong business volumes in the future.
The only worry, if you can call it that, one broker remarked, is finding the time to deal with all the business coming through the door in a stricter regulatory environment.
“Before the crash in 2008, placing a mortgage was like shooting fish in a barrel. So now with the extra layers of regulation there is just so much more work but it means that, hopefully, you’re not going to have to replace that case further down the line. So there’s no issues as far as we’re concerned, it’s looking very, very positive.”
The supper club was held at the end of May 2016.