Next year is set to be an interesting one for the mortgage market as a whole. If 2001 can be described as the year of planning, consultation and speculation, 2002 will be the year for action.
The biggest concern for brokers will be exams. The time for procrastination is over and anyone that has not yet begun the process must act in the new year if they want to ensure they have sufficient time to study and pass their exams before the deadline at the end of 2002.
Then there is regulation. While the onus of responsibility arguably lies with lenders, who will become responsible for the advice given to borrowers, the new pre-application illustrations will affect the way brokers work and undoubtedly increase the administration burden.
It is not all bad news. The combined effects of regulation and compulsory examinations are sure to whittle down the number of advisers operating in the mortgage market. More business will be spread between fewer advisers who have demonstrated and proved their commitment to, and knowledge of, the mortgage market.
The outlook for borrowers, however, may not be so bright. For too long lenders have been fighting for market share with loss-leading products. While they gain borrowers through the front door, they lose them by the back as borrowers stuck on high SVRs are tempted away by more competitive deals.
So lenders are expected to focus on customer retention over the coming year. What this means for borrowers remains unclear, although there is a growing belief lenders may be less likely to lend to borrowers with a track record of remortgaging.
There is also concern that features the consumer lobby fought to eliminate may make a comeback, such as MIGs and overhanging redemption fees.
The only alternative will be higher mortgage rates, but in an economic climate where interest rates are so low, this may be difficult for lenders to justify.
This will all stem levels of remortgaging, but the plus side for brokers is that the need for advice is likely to increase as borrowers will need more help to select the right product, as they seek to strike the balance between rate, flexibility and fees.