The year kicked off with several lenders raising proc fees. Leeds and Skipton Building Societies, Virgin Money and Clydesdale all showed their appreciation for the broker market with rises in remuneration. Anticipated launches into the lender market finally materialised as well-known mortgage veteran Bob Young, formerly managing director of CHL, brought specialist buy-to-let lender Fleet Mortgages to market.
TSB launched its intermediary proposition this month and Mortgage Solutions’ ‘8 things brokers need to know about TSB’s mortgage range‘ story became one of the top 20 stories most read in 2015.
George Osborne’s widely called for December reform of the Stamp Duty Land Tax, which saw the top price tax band lift to 12% and a change from a slab structure to one akin to income tax, was still being digested. Early signs showed a surge in demand for homes priced between £275,000 and £925,000. Martin Wheatley, the former chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), expressed his regret over the ‘shoot first and ask questions later’ remark he made when the FCA was initially formed in 2008. It was to haunt him throughout his career as FCA CEO until his resignation later in the year.
Aldermore restarts its will-we-won’t-we flotation plans at the beginning of the month, cools its heels mid-month before coming clean a week later that it was the ‘right time’ to prepare an Initial Public Offering.
The regulator raises concerns that financial products and services are failing the vulnerable and includes elderly consumers in its definition alongside those with dementia and poor literacy skills. This sparks debate in the mortgage market about how older borrowers are viewed.
Sainsbury’s Bank shows interest in launching a mortgage range while Tesco hints at broker distribution in 2016. Pre-election jitters becomes the overused buzz word as we are told by estate agents that it has become a buyers’ market when demand falls due to uncertainty in the property market. Specialist buy-to-let lender Foundation Home Loans launches and the Ladies Executive Club met for the first time this year to discuss the qualifications and attributes needed to be a non-executive director.
After revealing its plans to enter the equity release sector, Legal and General issues a lending target of £100m for 2015. The March Budget unveils plans to create a Help to Buy ISA which will see the government contribute to first-time buyers’ savings.
Lloyds Banking Group agrees to sell TSB to Spanish bank Sabadell while Sesame decides to close its investment adviser network to concentrate on mortgage advice. The FCA reports that adviser fees will increase by 10% which sparks a fierce outcry among the industry. European regulation pours cold water on the FCA’s transitional rules for remortgage customers who must now be judged by the same affordability checks as purchase customers.
A warning the buy-to-let sector is well used to hearing now was sounded by the Financial Policy Committee (FPC) for the first time. ‘We will be watching,’ it thundered. HSBC earned itself national and trade coverage for rejecting a mortgage on the grounds of age for borrowers in their 40s which drove the issue of lender age discrimination high up the market’s agenda this year.
A flood of stories emerged from Mortgage Solutions’ Buy To Let Market Forum. The threat of buy-to-let regulation took a bashing from Castle Trust’s Matthew Wyles, Santander asked brokers to be its first line of defence on fraud while Kensington warned of a ‘wall of cash’ heading towards the landlord market as pensioners took advantage of pension reforms. Meanwhile Peter Curran left Lloyds Banking Group to join the financial services division of Countrywide.
By far the biggest and most surprising news story of the month was the Conservative majority win at the general election. The victory sparked resignations from both the Liberal and Labour Party leaders as Cameron claimed his solo seat. As the threat of Labour’s Mansion Tax dissolved prime property agents reported phones ‘ringing off the hook’ as demand surged from overseas property investors. Brandon Lewis was allowed to remain in his position as housing minister. In the mortgage market, TSB continued its expansion with a buy-to-let range while Fleet Mortgages upped its maximum age to 85.
Mortgage industry excellence was celebrated in June at the Legal & General Mortgage Club Awards. Halifax for Intermediaries won Best Lender in Buy to Let and the Best Specialist Lender accolade. Charles Cameron & Associates scooped Best Overall DA for Growth in Quality Mortgage Business with Mortgage Advice Bureau winning the appointed representative equivalent.
The mortgage industry came together to celebrate its high achievers at the British Mortgage Awards hosted by Mortgage Solutions.
Invited guests brimmed with optimism, a proud sense of achievement and a desire to let their hair down after a gruelling first half of the year. Among the celebrated was James Hutchinson of First Mortgage, winner of First-Time Buyer Broker, Paul Bass of Prolific Mortgage Finance for Specialist Broker and Jo Murgatroyd, MAB, for Best Protection Broker.
H1 results rolled in thick and fast with Virgin Money reporting a 44% uplift in mortgage lending while Skipton’s lending rose 31%. TSB celebrated with a 110% rise in quarterly mortgage lending. Martin Wheatley admits he’s disappointed at the announcement he is to leave the FCA.
Fearless equity release supporter Andrea Rozario hits back at Andrew Castle, better known for playing tennis in the 90s, who slates equity release in the national press for being an expensive form of finance. Rozario claimed the example was taken out of context.
Lenders awake from their MCD slumber as Barclays becomes the first to announce its start date. Meanwhile Halifax reports mortgage advisers are writing a record 88 mortgages a year.
Jeremy Corbyn wins the bid for the Labour leadership with 59.5% of the party vote.
Lenders begin their mass exodus of the foreign currency mortgage market as Lloyds Banking Group confirms that none of its brands will lend to borrowers who earn income in a foreign currency. MAB research attributes 71% of all mortgage business to intermediaries.
Mortgage network bosses play musical chairs for most of the month as John Cupis, formerly of Sesame, joins Openwork, Pink’s Mark Grave joins The Right Mortgage and Protection Network and Lisa Martin leaves Sesame for LSL after only three weeks as appointed director of mortgages.
Bridging lender Masthaven applies for its banking licence and indicates a desire to enter the mortgage market. George Osborne lets slip to the Treasury Select Committee that he has already given the FPC power over the buy-to-let market despite no formal announcement or consultation having taking place. RBS expects to divest itself of the Williams and Glyn brand by the summer of 2016 and confirms the challenger has applied for its own banking licence.
If there was any doubt over the direction the government wanted the buy-to-let market to take, it was removed during the Chancellor’s reading of the Autumn Statement. Amateur landlords and second homeowners will face a 3% Stamp Duty premium on any property purchases from April 2016. There is to be a consultation on exemptions to the increased levy, but it appears that landlords with 15 properties or more will escape the tax hike.
London owner-occupiers, on the other hand, will benefit from a Help to Buy equity loan scheme tailored to suit their more expensive housing market. The Council of Mortgage Lenders faces the prospect of merging with other trade bodies including the British Bankers’ Association while the Senior Managers Regime was extended to all financial services firms, not just deposit-takers.
The equity release market celebrates its success at The Equity Release Awards in the Merchant Taylors Hall, London. New Street Mortgages, the sister lender launching from within the Kensington Group, pegs January as its start date.
After warning us at the start of the year he has his eyes on the buy-to-let market Mark Carney reveals the details. The Bank of England governor wants the power to control the rental cover calculation, currently set by individual lenders.
Mark Graves, two months into his role with The Right Mortgage and Protection Network, quits to join Sesame as sales director. The US Federal Reserve raises interest rates for the first time since 2006 to 0.5%, but the UK is not expected to follow, just yet.
To wrap up a hectic year, the final Ladies Executive Club met to discuss the value of mentoring.
With brokers telling Mortgage Solutions, in its latest poll, that they are seeing no let-up in business for Christmas, Mortgage Solutions hopes you all find the time to rest and recharge ready for a successful and exciting 2016.