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Navigating the mortgage market: Broker insights on a changing landscape – Rushton

by: Jess Rushton, head of business development at Smart Money People
  • 24/06/2024
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Navigating the mortgage market: Broker insights on a changing landscape – Rushton
The mortgage market has experienced a seismic shift over the past few years.

In December 2021, the bank rate was a mere 0.25%, allowing brokers to offer clients a range of extremely low rates. Fast forward to today, and the bank rate has surged to 5.25%. Although it has remained stable since August 2023, the market endured 14 consecutive rate increases beginning in early 2022. This rapid escalation presented significant challenges for brokers, with deals frequently being withdrawn at short notice.  

The days of sub-2% rate options are now a distant memory. 

Given these dramatic changes, in our latest Mortgage Lender Benchmark study covering H1 2024, we sought to understand how brokers have adapted to the current market conditions and their outlook for the future. Here’s what we found. 

  

Brokers’ advice in a high-rate environment 

Amidst fluctuating rates, we asked brokers what advice they’ve been giving their clients over the past six months. Despite the relatively high rates compared to recent history, the majority of brokers have emphasised the importance of stability. A striking 80% of respondents reported advising most of their clients to lock in a new fixed rate deal.  

This preference for fixed rates underscores a desire for certainty in monthly payments. 

Conversely, only 11% of brokers recommended waiting for potential rate decreases, indicating a general consensus that rates are unlikely to fall significantly in the near term. Additionally, just nine per cent of brokers suggested variable rate mortgages, which tend to be higher than fixed rate options offered by lenders. This trend highlights a cautious approach given the current economic climate. 

  

Future rate predictions 

We were also keen to gauge brokers’ expectations for interest rates over the next 12 months. Reflecting the preference for fixed rates, most brokers don’t anticipate drastic changes. The majority, or 73%, expect only a slight decrease in rates, while a mere 4% foresee a significant decrease.  

On the other hand, just 5% predict a slight or significant increase, suggesting that brokers believe the current high rates have likely peaked. Meanwhile, 18% expect rates to remain stable. These findings imply that brokers agree the era of continuous rate hikes has come to an end. 

  

Enhancing lender-broker relationships 

If interest rates stabilise as predicted, lenders will need to explore alternative strategies to foster loyalty among brokers. We asked brokers how lenders could improve their relationships to better serve end consumers. 

Unsurprisingly, competitive and flexible mortgage products topped the list, with 37% of brokers asking for more favourable rates and terms. While offering lower rates may not be feasible, lenders could capitalise on the flexibility aspect, such as by relaxing criteria or reducing barriers for certain clients. 

Additionally, brokers highlighted the need for greater support in securing rates for their clients. A notable 33% of brokers suggested that lenders could streamline the application and approval process, and 26% advocated for enhanced technology platforms to facilitate collaboration. 

Interestingly, only four per cent desired more training and support for brokers, indicating confidence in their existing knowledge and experience. Brokers are clearly looking to lenders to simplify processes and improve efficiency. 

  

Preferred lender application systems 

Given the emphasis on streamlined applications, we enquired about brokers’ preferred lender application systems. Halifax emerged as the clear favourite, praised for its ease of use and efficient offer generation. One broker lauded Halifax’s system as “easy to use and produces good offers,” while another appreciated the ability to “easily amend cases and upload documents.” 

Nationwide also received commendation for its clear and user-friendly application system. 

  

Conclusion 

In summary, despite recent market volatility, brokers don’t anticipate significant changes in the next 12 months. While low rates may be out of reach for now, lenders who can offer flexibility in their criteria and streamline their application processes are likely to stand out. As brokers navigate this challenging landscape, their focus remains on securing the best possible outcomes for their clients, emphasising stability and efficiency.  

As the market continues to evolve, the broker-lender relationship will continue to be pivotal in shaping the future of mortgage lending in the UK. 

 

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