Perhaps most importantly for us as stakeholders is that the housing market remains open, and that this period is only set to last for four weeks. At least that’s what we hope.
The government was relatively quick to announce the continuation of economic support and the extension of mortgage payment holidays.
While lenders are said to be supportive, this decision may herald a continuation of the status quo in terms of lender strategies and product offerings, particularly when they have to weigh up dealing with payment holiday requests.
Lenders who operationally might have been expecting a tapering off of the resource required to deal with these customer holiday or deferral requests, may now have to keep that under review and keep employees working in those positions.
Why does that matter?
Well, one of the reasons given by lenders around their existing product ranges and a general air of cautiousness, is they do not want to overwhelm an employee base who may well have been deployed into other service-related roles.
They ordinarily may well be working in departments which could service a greater level of applications, which might allow lenders to move up the high loan to value (LTV) risk curve, and still satisfy their service level agreements.
There’s undoubtedly an inter-connectedness of resource at play here and, from what I gather, lender staff, who are also likely to be working remotely, are being moved around in order to cope with changing demands.
Of course, it’s too early to say how lockdown two may or may not act as a catalyst for further mortgage payment deferral requests, but we have to believe they are unlikely to go down in number.
Lenders will therefore need to keep that resource in place for the foreseeable future.
Maintaining status quo
Given the level of activity at present – and that there is no closure of the housing market – lenders might be currently happy with where they are.
All the noises coming out of the sector appear to be that 2020 targets will still be hit, even with March’s lockdown and with the decision to drop maximum LTV levels.
There also looks to be little incentive to move the lender community back into higher LTV products – at least, not until we see the devil in the detail of the government’s scheme to help first-timers secure access to 95 per cent LTV mortgages.
That was announced during conference season last month, and we’ve heard nothing since, which perhaps tells you all you need to know about that particular policy’s priority level.
So, the positives are clear here – a national lockdown has not closed the housing market.
We can all continue to work together on behalf of our clients and the current mortgage market make-up looks set to be in place for some time to come.