Brokers reported overall mortgage completions were up by five per cent quarter-on-quarter at the end of 2018 to 87 per cent, marking the highest figure on record, according to the latest Mortgage Market Tracker from the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA).
Remortgage activity also ended strongly in 2018 with quarterly figures up by four per cent in Q4 to 87 per cent.
Buy-to-let (BTL) lending was also positive in Q4, even after increased landlord regulatory obligations dampened the sector in 2018. Offers to completion rose three per cent to 85 per cent, according to intermediaries.
Mortgage lending to rise in 2019
The positive trend for broker business looks set to continue in 2019, despite Brexit concerns.
IMLA has recently predicted that mortgage lending via intermediaries will rise to £169bn this year as the share of lending introduced by intermediaries rises to 75 per cent in 2019 and 76 per cent by 2020.
However, despite the highest completion rates in three years, broker confidence in the market is wavering slightly – only 54 per cent of brokers are very confident about their business’ prospects, down from 60 per cent in Q3 2018.
Brexit concerns still linger
Despite these positive figures, the Mortgage Market Tracker found that broker confidence has ebbed a little as brokers continue to experience the effect of Brexit uncertainty.
Mortgage intermediaries recognise that Brexit has the potential to adversely affect their businesses, with the percentage of brokers who said they were very confident about their business falling from 60 to 54 per cent in Q4 2018, the second dip in confidence in as many quarters.
Brokers are essential to guiding borrowers
Kate Davies, executive director of IMLA (pictured), said that it is encouraging to see that when an intermediary does apply for a loan on their client’s behalf, they are being accepted and completed at growing rates.
She added: “It is significant that intermediaries are able to demonstrate such a high success rate, especially when helping first-time buyers to navigate the complexities of an increasingly competitive and complex mortgage market. This is particularly true for those taking out Help to Buy equity loans, who may need even more expert guidance.
“IMLA predicts that mortgage intermediaries will account for a growing share of the mortgage market this year and into 2020. These figures underline our firm belief that, during times of uncertainty, people still seek out a seasoned expert to help guide them through complex financial decisions.
“That said, even in the face of such strong evidence about brokers’ effectiveness, it’s not surprising that brokers themselves share the current general uncertainty about the future. But, whatever the outcome of the current Brexit negotiations, we are confident that brokers will continue to play an essential part in guiding borrowers through the market.”