This summer saw the kind of sustained sunshine that sent us back to the summers of our youth. England won the Ashes, the football season got underway, the rugby season wasn’t far behind and the mortgage market is firing on all cylinders.
Focusing on the housing and mortgage market and there is little argument that the Funding for Lending Scheme, combined with Help to Buy, has proved integral to rising house prices and improved market conditions over the past 12 months.
It’s also evident that more and more first-time buyer are clambering onto that all-important first rung of the property ladder and that lenders have become more competitive than at any time post credit-crunch.
Indeed, according to recent reports from the Council of Mortgage Lenders, lending to first-time buyers was said to be up 30% year-on-year, with Q2 reported to be the highest quarterly total for lending since 2007, representing an impressive six-year high.
But the question remains – are these factors being reflected in intermediary business volumes?
Well, on the whole, yes. A recent report from the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) suggested that a third of brokers saw successful applications grow in the first half of 2013. That half of intermediary lenders increased the number of brokers they have worked with thus far in 2013.
Three-in-ten of these lenders reported an improvement in the quality of introduced business in the first six months of the year, while a further 65% said quality had remained stable. Additionally 69% of brokers identified an improvement in product availability and more than half said lenders’ services were consistent or had improved since January 2013.
Furthermore, the report also suggested that brokers and intermediary lenders have revised their predictions for total gross lending in 2013, off the back of a pick-up in market activity in the first six months of the year.
But everything in the garden is still not rosy. The report also cited that brokers named fitting a lender’s profile as the biggest challenge facing their clients, followed by poor credit ratings and limited deposits. They highlighted lenders providing better systems for applications as their top demand followed by more information about target profiles and a greater range of products.
This need for further improvements underlines the value attached to and the emphasis placed on closer intermediary/lender relationships. The statistic of three-in-ten intermediary lenders reporting that the quality of business had improved is encouraging but ultimately still somewhat disappointing.
At Woolwich we invest heavily across a variety of resources to help intermediaries to reduce the number of packaging mistakes so that clients receive the service they deserve and accelerate these relationships to the next level.
On the whole we have seen great strides being made by our intermediary partners and the quality of cases submitted has risen but there is still room for improvement. Of course it remains up to us as lenders to continue introducing new ways to make intermediaries lives easier throughout the submission to completion process but as with any good relationship to make this work as efficiently as possible this can’t be just a one way street.
The truth is that despite some favourable conditions, it’s vital for firms of all shapes and sizes operating within the intermediary market to keep innovating and evolving to make sure we maintain this positive momentum. Thankfully the positivity currently being felt up and down the land provides a strong platform to continue pulling in the right direction and fulfil these growing expectations.