In its annual results, the lender said this growth in lending was supported by an increase in savings balances to £15.25bn, which is up from £14.2bn in 2020.
It added that it had supported 20,000 first-time buyers, which was a record, and said this made up more than a third of its new mortgages.
The mutual’s profit before tax more than doubled to £163.7m in 2021 compared to £80.7m in 2020. This allowed it to increase its capital reserves to £1.46bn, which compares to £1.35bn the prior year.
Speaking to Mortgage Solutions, chief executive Richard Fearon (pictured) said: “We have had a record year in 2021 and, whilst it is a hard act to follow, we are absolutely confident that we will. I think about growth, improving satisfaction in our net promoter scores and keeping that track record of innovation going.”
He added that shared ownership was also a key area for the lender, as well as participating in new schemes like the First Homes scheme.
He said: “I think shared ownership has proved itself over decades as a successful offering and we are absolutely the leading lender in that segment. Help to Buy is coming to an end and we are looking at what next, what else can we support.”
Leeds BS said 2021 was its busiest 12 months for mortgage applications, which Fearon said was partially due to technology investment.
The lender has integrated its Mortgage Hub broker platform into major sourcing systems, which it said saved brokers time and effort, and made other significant investments in IT.
Fearon added that last year, it had delivered six out of top 10 months ever for mortgage applications but that had gotten “even stronger moving into this year” as it had had three of its best ever days already.
He said: “We’re going to invest in some other aspects of the technology journey. That will include for example… further advances and product transfers and making those journeys even better. That’s something I’m absolutely committed to.”
Last year, Leeds BS introduced a high LTV mortgage that offered better rates for energy efficient homes. It also launched a carbon neutral mortgage, where the carbon footprint is offset during the initial fixed term of the mortgage.
Fearon said: “We want to make sure that we continue to show leadership in the green finance, so the take up of our green mortgage has actually been very strong. They’ve been competitive. “
He added that it had piloted the carbon neutral mortgage for part of its range, and it was “testing different things”.
He continued: “I absolutely expect us to try different things through the year, try different product constructs and see what works. It is a huge shared challenge for everybody to help, as housing is a really important part of the carbon emissions, so how do we help people reduce their emissions and play a part in that.”
Leeds BS moved its head office from its historic Albion Street home, where it had spent over 80 years, to a new modern office on Sovereign Street.
The office has 900 desks and 900 collaboration spaces and is carbon neutral, according to Fearon.
“We’ve seen quite a lot of people come in, and actually they’re coming in when it adds value, whether that is face-to-face discussions with managers or team meetings. But part of that value, and this is a really important thing, is meeting other people, building connections, because that builds your culture and it is our culture that fuels us,” he explained.
He said the society had started trialing hybrid working last year, and that had continued this year, where it asked people to come in eight days a month.
Fearon said that gave employees more flexibility and helped build culture and colleagues had been “really positive” about it.
Fearon said he thought the market was “red hot” currently and he expected that to continue.
He said: “I think the market is very strong and I think as base rates and mortgage pricing is increasing off the back of the swap increases then people are remortgaging to lock in some of the rates that are available.”
Fearson said the mutual was planning on entering limited company borrowing during the course of the year.
He said: “We really [want to] center down on our purpose around home ownership. We’re really keen to focus our innovation on that and our colleagues right across the society are doing that. I’m excited to see what they come up with.”