According to Knowledge Bank’s latest criteria tracker results, defaults registered in the last three years and missed or later payments were in the top five most searched terms for March, coming fourth and fifth respectively in most search terms for the residential market.
The top three searched terms for residential in descending order were: maximum age at end of term, income multiple used for affordability assessment and employment or time in current employment.
The report said that the popularity of the employment search term showed more people are looking to find better paid jobs as the rising cost of living takes effect. It added that time in current employment had featured in the top five search terms every month since December 2021 as a growing number of borrowers change roles.
Broker searches also showed that customers are looking to use their homes to consolidate debt, with debt management plan – ongoing/current the fifth most searched term in equity release in March.
This could show borrowers are looking to use second charge loans to consolidate their debts, with third most popular search in second charge lending being mortgage or secured loan arrears or defaults.
Knowledge Bank added that the April rise in energy cost is expected to make searches for terms related to financial anxiety ever more frequent.
According to the data, maximum age at end of term was the most-searched in the residential market and second-most searched in the second charge market categories.
However, the Spring Statement has had a slight impact on consumer behaviour, with the five per cent tax cut on solar panels inspiring those exploring equity release to invest in green energy. Solar panels was the third most searched term for equity release.
One of the most popular buy-to-let (BTL) searches was first-time landlord, which showed that brokers are increasingly working with inexperienced landlords and that BTL sector confidence was strong.
Bridging searches continue to be popular
Regulated bridging was the most searched bridging term for the fifth month in a row, which may be partly driven by competition in the housing market as buyers use bridging loans to avoid a chain collapsing when a seller pulls out or to buy a property before their own sells.
Alongside bridging loans for residential properties, brokers are also searching for commercial property finance. These loans may be for those looking to repurpose existing commercial spaces, either refitting an office to accommodate hybrid working or adapting a retail space.
Matthew Corker (pictured), operations director at Knowledge Bank, said: “The volume of searches for both defaults and missed payments sadly looks like it will continue to build. Increasing energy prices and inflation outstripping wage growth will hit some hard and in the following months we may see more and more struggling to pay bills.
“On the positive side, the jobs market is back in full-swing and those that perhaps put off moving roles during the pandemic are now looking to switch careers which explains the interest from brokers.”
He added that the BTL sector continued to “gain interest” and he added that lenders were launching new BTL products frequently.
Corker said that the growth in commercial property finance searches was interesting and showed the “changing face of the high street” as businesses adapted their premises to accommodate how consumers shop and work.