No evidence of link between short-term let growth and housing shortages – Airbnb

No evidence of link between short-term let growth and housing shortages – Airbnb

 

Speaking to the Built Environment Committee at the House of Lords as part of its inquiry into the sector, Amanda Cupples, general manager for Northern Europe at Airbnb, said the company regularly spoke to local authorities and had heard these concerns. 

The committee’s inquiry will consider the impact of short-term lettings on housing markets, in particular their impact on efforts to meet housing demand.

The inquiry will result in a letter to the government which will make recommendations on steps that should be taken to address these issues, including the government’s proposals for a register.

During session, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, chair, said she had spoken with several estate agents and asked what problems exist for those buying a house. She said the estate agents reported that a number of properties were going to people who wanted to let them out.

Merilee Karr, chair of the UK Short Term Accommodation Association (UKSTAA), responded that a large number of people bought properties for buy-to-let, but did not think they were used for short-term lets. She noted that many areas had caps on how many days a property could be let on a short-term basis, and conversely, a minimum number of days a property must be let to be deemed holiday accommodation. 

 

‘A very strong emotional feeling’

Baroness Neville-Rolfe asked the panel if the short-term accommodation sector took properties off the market from first-time buyers and people with less money. 

Cupples responded, “There is a very strong emotional feeling that short-term accommodation is a prime contributor to that.  

“The reality is, we don’t know very much. There is actually no evidence base that has drawn any link whatsoever between short-term accommodation and housing scarcity.”  

She said Airbnb had also asked for a short-term accommodation register so policymakers could have a consistent, robust evidence base to help make decisions about the housing market.  

 

Large portfolios

In response to the claim that many short-term accommodation owners had large portfolios, Cupples said eight out of 10 Airbnb hosts had just one accommodation.

Fiona MacConnacher, public affairs manager at Booking.com, said the rise in short-term lets was fuelled by an increase in customer demand. 

“Having these alternative forms of accommodation allow for these demands to be met,” she added. 

She also noted that short-term lets weren’t just for holidaymakers, but are also used by people who needed a place to stay in between moving, students on internships, and more recently Ukrainian refugees. 

 

Queen’s speech lacking on housing stock, planning reform and affordable housing – analysis

Queen’s speech lacking on housing stock, planning reform and affordable housing – analysis

Prince Charles, acting as the Queen’s consort, laid out the government’s legislative agenda for the upcoming parliament session, a tradition that dates back to 1963.

Planning system reform, along with reforms to the rental sector were among the 38 pieces of legislation mentioned, however, those in the property sector have said that further detail and clarification was lacking.

Stuart Law, chief executive at Assetz Group, said that a “notable omission” was the “lack of a clear and comprehensive approach to planning reform”.

He added that it was known that future legislation should include local design codes and reform as to how developers would contribute to community infrastructure, which could help “streamline and rationalise the process” and improve cashflow.

Law continued that it is vital that new developments are “sensitive to, and enhance local communities”, but local design codes could “add yet another hurdle for housebuilders to jump.” He also noted that high construction costs, the energy crisis, and long-term impacts of Brexit and Covid-19 were already negatively impacting housebuilders, so redundant legislative barriers need to be removed so it’s not “harder for them to grow their business”.

However, he believes that SMEs are “best placed” to navigate the local design code system due to their unique local knowledge and experience.

Law said that Assetz would have to wait and see what future legislation looked like, but it doesn’t look like reforms will be “nearly radical enough, or being progressed with enough urgency, to help tackle the major challenges housebuilders face, or deliver significant numbers of new homes to meet demand and moderate price growth”.

He added that if issues are not tackled more comprehensively then current market dynamics would become “unsustainable” as people are locked out of the housing market and the number of SME housebuilders could continue to fall.

 

“A perverse game of cat and mouse” for first time buyers

Karen Noye, mortgage analyst at Quilter, said that whilst there are some plans to address the housing and rental market, none of them “truly tackle the root cause the problem”, which is lack of housing stock.

She explained that first-time buyers had been “playing a perverse game of cat and mouse” over the last few years as they struggled to save a deposit due to rising rent and house prices.

“This ultimately pushes prices up as people scramble for property, and the only cure is a radical house building plan that enables people to buy good quality homes at a fair price that stand the test of time,” Noye noted.

She praised government’s actions to abolish Section 21 Notices and improve the condition of rented housing stock, but said it did not go far enough.

“Fixing the rental market is needed and understandable but is a sticking plaster that fails to address a much larger problem.

“Ultimately, we need to help more people get their first foot on the property ladder so they can build up equity and enjoy some of the wealth creation opportunities that generations before have enjoyed from housing,” Noye said.

“Crying out” for clarity on affordable housing

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and former RICS residential chairman, added that the industry had wanted further clarity on affordable housing and whether its provision would improve.

“The industry is crying out for this, as well as more transactions, which are good not just for the property industry but the wider economy,” he said.

He added that the sector wanted “clearer direction” for bringing empty homes back into use.

Secretary of state for the Department for Levelling Up’s Michael Gove has previously said he would give local leaders the ability to force landlords out of empty shops to revive the high street.

Leaf continued: “The comments regarding planning are welcome but the test will be in the delivery, whether small and medium-sized builders in particular don’t feel marginalised and have a good chance of obtaining planning consent reasonably quickly.”

He added that he would have welcomed more “encouragement for energy efficiency in properties for rent and sale.”

The legislation, which is yet to be ratified, will mandate that existing rental tenancies have to get an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of C or higher by 2025, and new tenancies will need to reach the same bar by 2028.

However, there is still a lack of clarity as to when the legislation will come into effect, with the draft deadline set to be extended from 30 April 2025 to 31 December 2025, and a further extension to 2026 expected.

Bluestone Mortgages cuts Help to Buy rates

Bluestone Mortgages cuts Help to Buy rates

The rate cuts range from 0.25 per cent to one per cent and include a fee-free five-year fixed rate clear product at 60 per cent loan to value (LTV) had fallen from 5.96 per cent to 4.96 per cent.

Clear is one of the five credit tiers that Bluestone Mortgages uses to divide its products.

Clear means that there has been only one satisfied default and no county court judgments (CCJs) in the last three years, no secured arrears are missed payments in last two years, no bankruptcy or individual voluntary agreement (IVA) for more than six years and no pay day loans in the last year.

Its fee-free five-year fixed rate at 70 per cent LTV in its AAA range has decreased from 6.86 per cent to 5.91 per cent.

The AAA tier means the borrower has had one default or one CCJ in last three years, one secured arrear or missed payment over last 13 to 24 months, no bankruptcy or IVA in more than six years and no pay day loans in last six months.

The lender’s Help to Buy range is available at 60 per cent, 65 per cent, 70 per cent and 75 per cent LTV.

Rates start from 4.96 per cent and free upfront valuation is available on all products.

Reece Beddall (pictured), sales and marketing director at Bluestone Mortgages, said: “At a time when affordability is a key concern for many, particularly for first-time buyers, we’re making these rate changes to provide further support for customers with complex credit as they look to get on the housing ladder before the Help to Buy scheme comes to an end next year.”

He added that with the scheme ending in 2023 first-time buyers would lose the additional support and the lender was exploring replacement schemes to ensure it could continue to support customers.

“This demonstrates our commitment to offer everyone the equal opportunity to be able to climb onto the property ladder and own their dream home. Ultimately, these changes will provide our customers greater support and give them the help that they deserve but haven’t been able to find elsewhere,” Beddall said.

Santander lends £9.5bn of gross mortgages in Q1

Santander lends £9.5bn of gross mortgages in Q1

 

Gross mortgage lending at Santander, which is the third largest lender in the UK according to UK Finance, varied during the last year, coming to £8.2bn in Q1 last year, £9bn in Q2, falling to £8bn in Q3 and then rising slightly to £8.4bn in Q4.

According to its latest results, the lender’s mortgage loan book came to £180.9bn, which is up from £177.3bn in the previous quarter.

Profit from continuing operations before tax more than doubled quarter-to-quarter from £175m in Q1 2021 to around £495m in Q1 2022.

The lender said that it had made a charge of £18m in Q1, which was due to an uplift in its modelling of likelihood of mortgage default.

“We uplifted our modelled mortgage probability of default as back testing and monitoring shows a risk of model underestimation,” it said.

The largest group of mortgage borrowers was homemovers at 42 per cent, followed by remortgagors at 29 per cent and first-time buyers at 20 per cent.

Buy-to-let made up nine per cent of borrowers, and its buy-to-let balance was £15.7bn, which is slightly up from the previous quarter’s £14.9bn.

Around 46 per cent of its loans were between 50 and 75 per cent loan to value (LTV), and 45 per cent were up to 50 per cent LTV.

The average LTV of its mortgage portfolio is 40 per cent as of March this year, which is in line with 41 per cent LTV at the end of last year. The average LTV of its new business was 64 per cent LTV.

Over half, 59 per cent, of its mortgage loans were up to £250,000, with 30 per cent of loans between £250,000 and £500,000. The average loan size was £177,000 for stock and £237,000 for new business.

 

South West and London key areas and majority are fixed rates

Under a third, 31 per cent was in South West excluding London, whilst over a quarter, 26 per cent, of its mortgage lending was in London.

This was followed by the Midlands and East Anglia at 14 per cent and the North at 13 per cent of mortgage lending.

Most of its portfolio, 86 per cent, is on a fixed rate, with nine per cent on a variable rate. Only four per cent is on a Standard Variable Rate.

It added that it expected its growth in mortgage lending to be “broadly in line with the market”.

Santander said that increased cost of living would impact its customers and affect affordability of unsecured lending.

It said that to date it “had not seen any deterioration of credit quality”, adding that its unsecured lending and buy-to-let portfolios were “relatively small”.

Santander continued that inflation would continue to impact operating expenses in the coming year, but this could be offset by savings from its transformation programme.

Mike Regnier (pictured), incoming chief executive officer of Santander, said: “I’m proud to be presenting my first set of results, as the new CEO of Santander UK, and feel privileged to have the opportunity to build on the fantastic work of Nathan Bostock, our former CEO, and the team.”

He said that the first quarter had “continued the momentum we built during 2021”, pointing to the growth in profit from continuing operations before tax.

Regnier added that his had been “underpinned by another strong performance in the mortgage market” with £3.6bn of net lending.

“Our transformation programme continues to focus on digitalisation and meeting the changing needs of our customers. This is backed up by our resilient balance sheet and prudent approach to risk,” he said.

Regnier said that households faced rapidly increasing costs of living and it was “ready to support our customers and provide them with practical advice and tools”,

“We have a dedicated team of financial care specialists, reaching out to people who may be experiencing difficulties and have increased online customer support capability. We will explore all options for customers who are facing difficulties with their loan, credit card, overdraft or mortgage.”

New properties listed for sale doubles in four months

New properties listed for sale doubles in four months

According to Propertymark’s housing market report for March, although stock levels are still “historically low” there are more new properties listed, resulting in a lift in new buyers and sales.

The average number of properties listed was 22, which is roughly in-line with February figures of 23.

The report said that the average number of new potential buyers registering at each member branch increased from 67 in February to 84 in March. It noted that this was close to the high of 100 in January.

It added that new instructions were high at an average of 10 per member branch, which it said shows that the increase in supply since the start of the year has continued.

Sales agreed rose from eight in February to 10 in March, which Propertymark said was slightly below the long-term average of nine for the month.

The report also found that offers accepted at or over the asking price rose by four per cent month-on-month to 84 per cent, which it said was the highest since surveys began in 2013.

The report said that this showed that the “ball is still firmly in the seller’s court”.

No offers at or over the asking price were accepted in March 2020, which could be attributed to the first lockdown, and in March 2019 it was just under 20 per cent.

The report found sales to first-time buyers made up 30 per cent of overall sales in March, which is slightly down from 37 per cent in February.

However, this is still above average for post-2020 lockdown period at 25 per cent.

Nathan Emerson (pictured), chief executive of Propertymark, said: “Our March figures show a range of new activity as the spring market makes itself known. The number of new properties coming on to the market has increased slightly and new stock breeds new buyers and new sales.

“The number of sales being agreed in March is slightly above our recorded long-term average and the uplift in properties coming to market is a trend we would hope to see continue into April and May.”

The West Brom returns to shared ownership with fixed and discounted rates

The West Brom returns to shared ownership with fixed and discounted rates

 

The spokesperson at the lender said that it had removed the products at the start of the pandemic due to ongoing uncertainty in the market and to ensure it was lending responsibly. However, as it regularly reviews its product ranges it felt it was the right time to reenter the market to “provide more competitive products to borrowers”.

The products are aimed at first-time buyers and existing shared owners with smaller deposits. There are six fixed-rate products, split between 90 and 95 per cent LTV tiers. Two, three and five-year fixed rate terms are available.

The lender has also added three discounted variable rates on a two-year term. They are available at 85, 90 and 95 per cent LTV.

The maximum borrowers’ share across the range is 75 per cent.

The minimum loan for all products is £40,000, and for products at 85 and 90 per cent LTV the maximum loan is £500,000 whereas at 95 per cent LTV it is £350,000.

Highlights of the range include a two-year fixed rate purchase product at 3.59 per cent with no completion fee at 95 per cent LTV. There is also a five-year fixed rate purchase product at 3.69 per cent, which has no completion fee and £500 cashback.

Richard Scott (pictured), the West Brom’s head of intermediaries, said: “We’re pleased to be reentering the shared ownership market with a competitive range of products.

“Supporting first-time buyers and those looking for affordable routes into homeownership is a core part of our Purpose, and our new deals will help many more achieve their homeownership goals.”

Lenders and housing associations have said that the proportion of borrowers using shared ownership is expected to grow, especially with Help to Buy due to end in March 2023. However, there is general industry consensus that more consumer awareness and understanding of shared ownership is needed.

Lenders need to use data to adapt to increasingly diverse client incomes – Toumadj

Lenders need to use data to adapt to increasingly diverse client incomes – Toumadj

MBT recently published its affordability white paper report, in which they discussed the need for lenders to provide more affordability-focused, data-driven lending options with brokers and lenders.

Inflexible lender criteria

Lenders have been been more cautious towards self-employed borrowers, creating a growing niche for specialist lenders that are willing to take on more complex cases.  The amount that lenders were willing to loan, which is one of the most Googled mortgage-based questions this year, varied drastically due to lender criteria, ideal customers, and the way they look at cases, according to the report.

Toumadj said: “Our white paper analysis was based on seven types of cases to establish how clients can get the loan size that they need, which had an average range of £120,000. That shows how lenders, based on their different elements of risk, are actively pursuing different types of customers. It’s also driven for personalisation, which we always advocate.

“Lenders are increasingly working on a more data and affordability-driven approach to product development.”

Profession is still a big factor

The research found that variables like the borrower’s job still played a key role in how much they could borrow.

Toumadj said: “Income make-up is a big factor, as well as criteria, and loan to value (LTV) is by far the biggest driver behind that when it comes to affordability assessments.

“Our previous research shows that there’s a massive range based on the types of income that lenders are looking at. You’ve also got different professional ranges – stable jobs like medics, dentists and teachers tend to get a higher loan to income (LTI) multiple.

“The future of affordable lending will be around the types of profession and income, particularly with the self-employed which has seen massive growth over the pandemic but lending to these people seems to have lagged behind.”

Tackling the gig economy

A lot of self-employed or freelancers are high earners when they get contracts, but can suffer from inconsistent work, with many therefore having less predictable but often multiple income streams, or taking decisions during the pandemic that scare a lot of lenders away.

Toumadj said: “The data around the gig economy is really important because it shows how lenders can become comfortable in the stability of those multiple income streams over time. The data-driven approach means they can be a bit smarter than just going with their gut feeling or hearsay with complex cases.

“For the self-employed, the things a lender is willing to look at as ‘income’ is a massive factor – whether the lender takes the average of the last three months or the lowest income for example, or whether the borrower has properties in the background.

“Going forward I think you’ll see more personalisation around affordability, but it’s not clear where those pockets will crop up.”

Lenders, like Habito, are also looking at longer term offerings, with a few coming to market with 20 to 30-year fixed term products, depending on criteria.

Toumadj added: “The high LTV space is already making a lot more progress – we’re seeing a lot more lenders looking at things like home equity loans, top-up loans, and adding more applicants against the mortgage as they see the niches.”

First-time buyers struggling but solutions are available

As the price of a first mortgage has matched the price of rent for the first time in 14 years, first-time buyers, typically young people with lower wages building their careers, are finding themselves in an ever more futile position as housing prices continue to rise.

Toumadj believes that without support, the UK is under threat of age-based social inequality as that first step on the ladder soars further out of reach. Particularly, at a time when the cost of living and rent has made saving up for a deposit even harder.

“First-time buyers are struggling to get on the housing market and it definitely feels stretched for them, but there are a lot of solutions, including the equity style loans and getting more primary guarantors on mortgages,” she added.

“Regional data shows differing house prices to income ratios, but the Bank of Mum and Dad is here to stay, definitely, in my opinion.

“If you don’t have schemes that support first-time buyers and young people then you just get more social inequality which no one wants.”

Technology and innovation to the rescue

Platforms that allow brokers to find clients the right options for them and combine those to create a hybrid product tailored to their situation could well be the future. The report noted that on average, brokers save 47 minutes per case by using mortgage affordability platforms, which are becoming increasingly used.

Toumadj said: “There is innovation like equity and second charge lending that increase the capability of first-time buyers, which brokers can package together. It’s complicated, but we do have the technology to add those other options.

“For all of those innovations you have to educate the brokers, which is where we’re trying to step in by having all the alternative lenders on our platform.

“It ultimately comes back to what’s easiest and most helpful for brokers in speeding up the process.”

MBT will be running two separate webinars based on its affordability white paper – one for brokers and one for lenders – to talk through the results of the research in greater detail, with registration also available on the website.

MAB agrees to acquire Fluent Money Group

MAB agrees to acquire Fluent Money Group

The acquisition will be made by MAB’s wholly owned subsidiary, Mortgage Advice Bureau Limited, and the enterprise value of Fluent is estimated at £95m by MAB.

Fluent has around 425 employees, including 125 advisers, and offers advice on first charge mortgages, second charge, later life lending and bridging finance.

The acquisition will be funded by renewed and increased debt facilities, existing cash resources and an equity placing of £40m on the Alternative Investment Market. The amount paid on completion is expected to be close to £73m in cash.

Numis Securities is acting as MAB’s bookrunner and the process will be run through an “accelerated book building process”, according to the broker firm.

The acquisition is conditional on the equity placing and FCA approval and is expected to complete before the second half of this year.

The 75 per cent stake will be bought from Beech Tree Private Equity, as well as members of Fluent’s management team, including chief executive Kevin Hindley, commercial director Paul Ford, group managing director Simon Moore and chief operating officer Tim Wheeldon.

The purchase includes an agreement for MAB to acquire the remaining stake of the business after six years subject to Fluent’s financial performance.

MAB said that it has capped its “put and call option”, which obliges the owner to sell some of the underlying security at a specified price, at £118m.

It continued that Fluent is expected to grow rapidly and has seen a “significant increase” in lead flow, which is expected to increase revenue and earning before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA).

Fluent’s predicted turnover for the year to March is £38.5m, which is up 45 per cent year-on-year, according to MAB. It added that Fluent’s profit is set to double in the calendar year 2022.

Speaking to Mortgage Solutions, MAB’s chief executive Peter Brodnicki (pictured), said that Fluent had an “exceptionally high quality” management team and it was “delivering really accelerated growth”.

He added that the rationale for buying it was that the firm had 14 years of centralised telephony advice experience with national lead sources, and that this was an area of key investment growth for MAB along with new build.

Brodnicki explained that MAB had entered the national lead space around a year ago, pointing to partnerships with Boomin, Beehive and MSM.

He added that the volume opportunities for national lead sources were high, citing comparison websites, property portals, savings and investment platform, credit agencies and big major affinity relationships.

“These types of contracts are not typically won by local or regional firms, instead a different operating model is required, typically a major centralised telephone operation with strong technology and scalability will be in poll position,” he explained.

He said that MAB’s aim is to use technology to help firms get more out of their current lead sources, but also target the significant opportunity of national leads.

He continued that the firm had strong in-house technology, strong lead flow, along with great conversion rate and productivity.

Fluent’s biggest area of growth was in mortgages, he said, but that they were still a major player in secured loans, with equity release and bridging being recent additions to their offering.

Typically with specialist lenders it worked with a panel that brokers would refer to and that would continue in the future, but it would also be introducing in-house licensing for specialist advisers, he added.

He said that as Fluent had in-house expertise in second charge, bridging and later life this would be “complimentary” to the licensing. Fluent would retain its branding, and this was due to the strong reputation that it had built.

Brodnicki said: “The Fluent acquisition is highly complimentary to our strategy of working with so many exceptional firms on a regional and local basis, with a strong focus on the estate agency and new build sectors.

He added: “These are exciting times at MAB, as we widen our addressable market and expertise in these new growth sectors, with technology developments coming through enabling our firms and advisers to generate and optimise more opportunities across all market segments.”

He continued to thank investors for their “their unwavering support in such challenging times”.

 

MAB ‘targeted’ in its investments

Brodnicki said that there may be consolidation in the sector at the network or broker level and said that some of its own business were being acquisitive and wanted to expand, which MAB was supportive of.

He added that future investments would have to “tick boxes” of strong management teams, strategic importance and deliver strong growth and market share growth.

“We are very targeted with our investments and have been for over 10 years now. It is a long-term strategy. We’re not there to sell these businesses, we are totally aligned with management to achieve objectives we are both committed to,” he explained.

 

Strong gross mortgage completions and adviser growth

In its annual results for 2021, gross mortgage completions, including product transfers, came to £22.8bn, which is a third up from 2020 figures.

It added that gross new mortgage completions, which exclude product transfers, for 2021 were £19.6bn, an increase from £14.9bn in 2020.

The firm continued that its market share of new mortgage lending was 6.3 per cent, up from 6.1 per cent in 2020.

Total adviser numbers grew by 19 per cent to 1,885, and mainstream advisers increased by 13 per cent to 1,649. It added that revenue per mainstream adviser was up 12 per cent.

Profit before tax grew by 56 per cent to £23.3m compared to 2022 and was up 31 per cent compared to 2019.

 

New build and national lead sources are main investment focus areas

Brodnicki said that looking ahead new build and national lead sources would be its two main areas of focus.

He explained that with specialist areas like new build one could “grow a higher-than-average market share”.

He continued: “Builders have also always been serviced by new build-focused firms. Builders are rightly quite demanding, they want firms that can meet their specific requirements and timescales. It’s not a market open to a large number of intermediaries, it is a selective sector.”

Brodnicki said that deal flow and predictability of lead flow was strong in new build, and it typically found fast growing businesses and high producing brokers in that sector.

He continued that it was “seeing no real let-up” in activity and that there was still “very strong consumer demand”. He said that the market might soften due to economic pressures but that there was “no sign for it at the moment”.

He added that this partially fuelled its focus on lead generation as it wanted to ensure all its firms are “able to squeeze out every opportunity in a tougher market in case there is any loss in activity”.

Brodnicki added that there was a strong remortgage market in 2021, and that first-time buyers had also been robust, but that growth was a lot “wider”.

“On the back of Covid there were many and new reasons why people wanted to move, from changing lifestyles and where they live and how they live. So obviously by definition, you’re seeing a far wider range of transactions happening, which is actually good for the market,” he explained.

He added that brokers had been “consistently busy” over the past year, which explained the uptick in adviser revenue.

“The market remains strong and generally our firms are constantly looking to improve on productivity and performance,” Brodnicki said.

He added that there was “equal focus on productivity” as well as adviser growth, and due to the quality and ambition of the firms with MAB, over 50 per cent of its growth had been organic.

Knowledge Bank adds Proportunity criteria

Knowledge Bank adds Proportunity criteria

Proportunity’s shared equity loans are aimed at buyers with only a five per cent deposit and are available for up to £150,000 or up to 25 per cent of the value of a property. They are available to first-time buyers and existing homeowners who want to move to a bigger property but only have a small deposit.

Proportunity loans allow prospective borrowers to increase the size of their deposit, and get a mainstream mortgage at a lower rate of interest than they would have done if taking out a 95 per cent LTV mortgage.

The lender claims that this lowers the overall cost of the purchaser’s mortgage across the two blended rates by up to 40 per cent, and also has the benefit of increasing overall loan to income up to six times on a five per cent deposit.

Proportunity chief executive and co-founder, Vadim Toader, said: “Raising awareness among brokers of the solutions we can offer their customers, and giving them the ability to compare our products, will extend our reach to a far greater customer base.”

The Knowledge Bank criteria database is the largest in the UK, and contains over 135,000 individual criteria from more than 270 lenders.

Nicola Firth, founder and CEO of Knowledge Bank, added: “As house prices continue to spike, the deposits needed to buy a property are continuing to increase. Proportunity gives first-time buyers another option through its innovative offering and it should help plenty of borrowers onto the housing ladder.

“We are constantly adding lenders and categories to our platform to ensure we continue as the go-to search platform.”

Skipton BS’ 2021 gross mortgage lending rises 20 per cent to £5.4bn

Skipton BS’ 2021 gross mortgage lending rises 20 per cent to £5.4bn

In its financial results for the year ending 31 December 2021, the mutual’s mortgage balance went up by 6.8 per cent in 2021, a slight decrease on the 8.6 per cent growth in the prior year.

It provided 30,282 mortgages in 2021, and of that 7,893 were to first-time buyers. This is up from 24,557 mortgages it provided in 2020, as well as the 5,424 which went to first-time buyers.

It also completed 6,899 buy-to-let mortgages, an increase from 5,955 in the prior year.

Skipton’s mortgage portfolio came to £23bn and lending accounted for two per cent of the growth in the UK residential mortgage market, which compared to its 1.4 per cent share of UK residential mortgage balances.

Its profit before tax for its mortgage and savings division nearly tripled from £67.3m in 2020 to £165.3m in 2021. This was partially attributed to a credit of £13m from loan impairment provisions.

This compared to a profit before tax for the wider group of £271.7m, which is more than double the £118.8m figure from last year.

Residential mortgages in arrears of three months of more came to 0.22 per cent, which is below the industry average of 0.83 per cent and compares to 0.29 per cent last year.

David Cutter (pictured), Skipton Group’s chief executive, said the results were a “testament to the strength” of its business model, colleague engagement, strong culture and ability to move quickly to seize opportunities.

He also noted the growing economic confidence and strong housing market had played in its favour.

He said: “2021 was a remarkable year for Skipton as all of our people continued to support our customers at the moments that matter, regardless of what the ongoing pandemic threw at everyone.

“And while the UK adjusts to a post-pandemic future, with new social norms and consumer behaviours, our purpose remains the same – helping people have a home, save for their life ahead, and supporting their long-term financial wellbeing.”

 

‘Strong competition’ to remain in mortgage market

Skipton BS said it started 2022 from a “position of great strength” and plans to continue investing in its business and people to respond to changing market conditions.

The lender said it expected “strong competition” to remain in the mortgage market in the coming year as lenders still hold high levels of liquidity. It added that this would put more pressure on interest margins.

However, the mutual said it remaining alert to “increasing geopolitical uncertainty” from the conflict in Ukraine but it said its financial strength, diverse business portfolio and focus on customer and colleague experience would hold it in good stead.

It added that the housing market would likely “moderate” in 2022 and the mutual said it planned to do more to support first-time buyers.

 

Connells and Skipton International report strong performance

Skipton BS said that Connells, which is owned by the group, delivered dividends of £60m to the mutual and it has repaid £124.8m of the £253m which was loaned to Connells as part of its acquisition of Countrywide last year.

Connells’ profit before tax increased by £59.5m to £111.3m, and property exchanges were 175 per cent higher than the year before.

Buyer registration also increased by over a third, 38 per cent, on a like-for-like basis, although stock shortage remains an issue.

Skipton International, which is a Guernsey-based bank that specialises in expat mortgages, saw its mortgage balances come to £1.7bn in 2021, which is up from £1.6bn in the previous year. It reported profits before tax of £25.5m, up from £19.9m in 2020.

The report added that the quality of Skipton International’s mortgage book “remains good” with only one case in arrears by three months or more, which is the same as the previous year.