‘Covid-19 causing the biggest change to lending policies since 2008’ – Marketwatch
A growth in the number of clients with adverse credit was already being forecast, following research from Pepper Money last year.
This week Mortgage Solutions is asking: Could current circumstances see the complex borrower market grow further than predicted and will they be well catered to?
Pete Mugleston, managing director of Onlinemortgageadvisor.co.uk
Since 2009, mortgage lending criteria has progressed without much interruption.
We’ve gone from ultra-restrictive, lending mostly to those in full time employment, where anyone with even a sniff of a late payment was paying nine per cent, to now (pre-Covid) zero hours workers and the self-employed at 12 months, with all manner of heavy and recent adverse credit issues – at incredibly affordable rates.
Still, I’d say the specialist market has been underweight for years, with many customers not even bothering to look at homeownership as they wrongly don’t feel like they’d be eligible, petrified of what a search on their credit file would do to their lives.
The last four months has expedited the changing world of work and lenders are having a tough time establishing the viability of different incomes across business sectors and contract types, particularly with the self-employed.
Add to that a potential rise in unemployment, credit issues, and of course the unseen impact of payment holidays, and you’d credit Covid-19 for delivering the biggest change to lending policy since the Mortgage Market Review, or even, 2008.
We’ve seen this before – whenever it gets tough to find a deal on the high street, the opportunity for specialist lenders grows, and those that can raise the money step in.
The demand will undoubtedly be there, the supply remains unknown.
To me the biggest question surrounds how quickly certainty and confidence returns to the market – all eyes on the vaccine, and the government for this, but I’m quietly optimistic.
Richard Hayes, CEO and co-founder of Mojo Mortgages
In light of recent events, I think it’s inevitable that the complex borrower market will grow. With so many impacted by Covid-19 both, directly and indirectly, I think it’s safe to say UK mortgage lenders will have to respond.
With regards to the impact on a borrowers’ credit history, lenders are faced with the unenviable challenge of determining which borrowers remain credit worthy in a post-pandemic world.
This may remain a challenge for quite some time as fragility is widespread across so many business sectors, with income reduction and loss of work high on the list for reasons why customers fall into default on their credit commitments.
As with the last financial crisis, I think it would be safe to assume we will also see a significant rise in self-employment, which was approximately an increase of ten per cent following the previous crisis.
All this presents further significant challenges to lenders. To ensure this vast cohort of potential borrowers are not ostracised, a review of lending and risk policy will be an inevitability.
How lenders respond to all of this, alongside rising unemployment levels and the uncertain future of house prices is yet to be seen. Though I am sure CEOs of all UK lenders will be asking their teams ‘how do our lending policies become more agile while still mitigating increased risk?’.
One way lenders may respond is to implement a rate for risk models that allows them to price mortgage products relative to the associated risk.
This is already common in other areas of financial services, such as credit cards and personal loans.
Darryl Dhoffer, mortgage and protection consultant at The Mortgage Expert
We fundamentally look at clients who have an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) or had an IVA and we’ve noticed the market has been growing for years.
The growth of this kind of client will increase and in terms of lender choice, I think we will see some new entrants into the market. The only issue will be with funding as specialist areas still don’t have the support of the government.
Rejecting people who have taken a mortgage holiday can push them into a more specialist category, but this is unprecedented.
The government said, ‘don’t worry, make use of mortgage holidays,’ but lenders weren’t prepared. They quickly had to rewrite everything. It was carnage.
As a result, it does raise questions around the perception of these clients now. How will these borrowers be construed; will they be reprimanded? We don’t know for sure.
If lenders can see income coming in but the borrower is on a mortgage holiday, how will they look upon that? For example, I have heard lenders say they will be looking closely at landlords who still have rent coming in while on a payment break.
Because of this, I can see the market being manipulated or changing in the coming months as lenders have to be careful about how they operate moving forward.
Understandably, they are worried also about certain incomes and employment sectors. Lenders will be stringent and looking at individuals on a case by case basis.
‘FCA equity release findings were disappointing but not surprising’ – Marketwatch
Today, the ERC announced it updated its adviser checklist requiring brokers to establish vulnerability in clients and highlight differences between a new and existing plan.
So this week, Mortgage Solutions asked: What recommendations would you make to rework equity release advice and how do you put that into practice already?
Simon Chalk, managing director of Laterliving Now
Having spent over 17 years encouraging self-improvement in equity release advising, the FCA’s published findings come as a great disappointment, but sadly not a surprise.
A lifetime mortgage is a flexible later life, retirement and estate planning tool, requiring the adviser possesses greater knowledge and skills than for that of any other mortgage contract.
Better training and testing are required on mental capacity, vulnerability, estate planning, wills, trusts, the workings of – and interaction with – the social care system, powers of attorney and Court of Protection.
Requiring new and existing advisers to attain a higher competence level, involving an enhanced equity release qualification to Level 4, with examinations on case studies using written essay-style question and answers, would be an improvement.
At Laterliving Now, our advisers are called ‘Laterliving Planners’, emphasising these higher skills and the need to plan for our clients’ futures.
For example, we have all committed to taking a long-term care qualification, are trained on vulnerability, as well as being registered ‘dementia friends’ and ‘friends against scams.’
The introduction of the Later Life Lending Advice Standard from the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) will go a long way to improving things, as a good adviser will always seek to push themselves further.
It has not previously been in the interests of providers, nor the Equity Release Council, to set the bar higher, yet the FCA has signalled its intent that this needs to change, or it will do it for us.
Andy Wilson, director at Andy Wilson Financial Services
The FCA review provides an up to date benchmark of where my own advice process should be, and it has been useful to test mine against what they are looking for.
Detailed fact finding is vital, and I would like to think I properly address this.
I add a lengthy file note to the more structured fact find document, to detail my conversations with clients, and add relevant ‘soft facts’. I picked up that the FCA would like to see more detail around the words the clients actually used to describe their situation, and their thoughts on various aspects of equity release.
Providing evidence as to why advice is suitable can be easier than proving why other solutions might not be.
I have had to challenge my own wording where other alternatives have been dismissed, and I will need to expand on exactly what the clients said about this. The same is true for those who refuse to make any payments to the plan, even if they appear to be able to afford to do so.
When recording whether the clients have discussed plans with them, it is not sufficient to accept that they did not wish to do so, without questioning why.
Detailing the reason parents have kept their intentions from children will become very relevant once the parents have died. I think advisers must try harder to get the beneficiaries involved at outset.
This is also why the suitability reports need to be detailed as it will not only be the clients who read it.
I am therefore undertaking a review of my own suitability reports, to reduce the length, include some graphics to break up the pages of plain text, review standard paragraphs and change the order of information so the actual product details are placed nearer to the front.
Martin Wade, director of Access Equity Release
Making the equity release qualification a requirement for all mortgage advisers would be a very good first initial step.
Likewise, ensuring the advice process for equity release includes mandatory affordability checks on alternative solutions such as repayment mortgages and retirement interest-only mortgages, alongside a more in-depth knowledge of pensions.
More detailed product awareness and improved later life financial planning, discussed earlier in life would most certainly help.
Advisers should have a solid understanding of mortality, the cost of care, inflation and the physical ageing process. This would assist the ethical adviser in ensuring clients are counselled wisely about the years ahead, so they do not overextend themselves.
We need to ensure that retirement planning is knitted together so that all products and assets are assessed and brought into play.
The equity release market presently offers excellent choice and solutions, it is only by ensuring continuous education and CPD by those who are involved at the point of delivery, we can ensure each client has their full range of options available to them explored, included or discounted but used appropriately.
Our advisers will only see two or three clients a week; they invest time during those meetings to fully understand both the clients’ holistic financial position as well as their understanding of equity release.
Each case is then discussed individually with their development manager prior to any solution being recommended and each solution is reviewed again by our compliance department prior to completion for accuracy, suitability and accountability of advice.
It may be time to resurrect the mortgage guarantee scheme – Star Letter 26/06/2020
The first comment this week was in response to the article: Welsh govt’s ‘piecemeal’ plans to open housing market will damage economy, warns CA
Kevin Roberts said: “Whilst I agree with Lloyd’s comments, of greater concern to the broker community in Wales and the UK and probably doing more damage than anything at present, is lenders restricting borrowing to 85 per cent loan to value (LTV).
“As a firm we have dozens of first-time buyers with a 10 per cent deposit desperately willing to purchase.”
He added: “They are the foundation of the housing market generating work and wealth for the wider economy thus helping to sustain house price values. Most of us remember the government resurrecting 95 per cent mortgages through their Help to Buy mortgage guarantee.
“Now may be the time for government and lenders to come together again to work a solution that gets the lower rungs of the ladder moving.”
The second article to get a comment was: ‘It’s sad to decline business I would have completed months ago’ – Marketwatch
LankyDes said: “First, let me say that I have a great sympathy for young people nowadays. I’m very glad that I am 62 rather than 22. Anyone who knows me, knows I am far from being an apologist for lenders. However, I do think that they have a right to make a reasonable margin on higher LTV lending.
“Remember, not only are rates historically low but higher lending charges are also virtually a thing of the past which helps the higher LTV buyer. Although, of course it could be argued that if there were higher lending charges, there would be more higher loan to value lending.
“I think a small [house] price fall would be good for first–time buyers. The economy has been to skewed to rising house prices for many years with people using their house as a cash dispenser. That has been used to compensate for a downward squeeze on incomes.”
LankyDes continued: “I do however have sympathy for the view that people who have proven affordability should be given more leeway. The Financial Conduct Authority has a lot to answer for here, turning affordability calculators into God.
“I had my affordability calculator 16 years ago, long before most lenders. They are very useful, but they are not infallible. If they were, how could one lender give £60,000 and another £20,000 for the exact same data?”
“I have a case where a small mutual has declined a 95 per cent shared ownership because it misses affordability by £15 per month, stress tested at 7.89 per cent. That is an utter nonsense when the client has paid £100 more rent for the last four years than she will be paying on a five-year fixed mortgage and rent.”
He added: “It makes a complete nonsense of that mutual’s claim to make human decisions. There are numerous other factors on this case which would give further comfort to a sensible underwriter who was taking an overview of risk, rather than a tick box mentality.
“That is a very rare case where I have overridden my own affordability calculator. I wouldn’t do it for a person who hadn’t proved their ability to run a household but for a mature lady who has brought up a family single-handedly, it would be silly not to do so.”
Mortgage industry must address and incentivise climate change behaviours – Marketwatch
With no regulation in place to enforce the mortgage market to acknowledge this, some lenders have taken the initiative and reacted to the issue by offering incentivised mortgages, however efforts are not equal across the board.
So, this week, Mortgage Solutions is asking: Do you agree with Mark Carney that the financial market is ahead of the government when it comes to climate change?
Matthew Fleming-Duffy, director at Cherry Mortgage and Finance
What Carney is saying is that investors – primarily hedge funds, not necessarily consumers – are addressing the climate shock we’ll be faced with.
We’re on a train which it’s going in one direction and the only argument is how far is that cliff edge? So, most people are looking to the future and asking where will we see growth and less risk?
It’s sensible for investors to ask companies about their green credentials, that’s within reason. But in terms of consumer products, especially with green mortgages it’s hard to see where this is going to come from.
It’s fair enough to say we need green mortgages and I think there is a mechanism which can allow all mortgages to be green, by encouraging energy efficient improvements for example. A few lenders are already doing this, but it is only a couple.
The government has a role to play but I think we are quite slow in creating these products and encouraging consumers to take them up.
The government is doing the right thing by encouraging where they can and not being too forceful with regulation. As a government, they’re damned if they do too much.
It’s up to the industry to make these changes and incentivise people to move in that direction.
It’s estimated that 17 million homes in the UK need retrofitting so there can’t be blanket action against that, just small changes to encourage people to move forward. So, Mark Carney is right in saying the market is doing it and legislation may eventually follow.
David Hollingworth, associate director of communications at L&C Mortgages
You’d probably have to have been living under a rock not to have been aware that consumers are becoming increasingly aware and concerned about the impact of climate change.
Mortgage lenders have addressed the green aspirations of borrowers for many years, Norwich & Peterborough Building Society offering a range of deals that promised to offset the carbon footprint for example.
Ecology BS remains at the forefront and offers an alternative outlet for anyone looking to fund environmentally friendly purchases or improvements.
More recently we’ve seen Barclays showcase the energy efficiency benefits of new build properties with its green mortgages, Kensington develop its eKo mortgage and Saffron BS join the fray with its Retro Fit mortgage incentivising improvements with a better rate.
There’s therefore a desire from mortgage lenders to look ahead and meet the changing demands of borrowers. We no doubt have some way to go but this spirit of innovation will help deliver the practical financing options needed to complement the aims of individuals and government.
Governments have long made the right noises about the need to make improvements to our energy efficiency but have not always found the answer to how best to practically achieve the necessary change.
The UK has a lot of housing stock that is extremely desirable but not always blessed with the energy efficiency of more modern property.
The Energy Performance Certificate at least helps to highlight where improvements could be made but many of these improvements are expensive and will take time to recoup the investment.
This is where home financing options will be critical in helping homeowners make the changes affordable.
Ashley Brown, director at Moneysprite
The UK is bound by statute to become a net zero carbon emission economy in just 30 years’ time. Which is by anybody’s reckoning no mean feat.
Carney, in his new role as a UN special envoy, as usual has been erudite and concise with his analysis of the challenge faced; needing to move our whole economic model to a more sustainable and environmentally aware approach.
The government has been committed and clear about the need for change.
However, I believe Carney is correct that the financial market is moving faster towards pushing solutions and this goal, whereas the government seems to offer few details on how the journey should be made.
This might not be a bad thing though, the markets may well know best in this instance.
The financial markets know this challenge needs to be faced and are and will increasingly factor in this new vector.
Crucial to good analysis of this new measure of value will be accurate data. Already we are seeing corporates making some climate related financial disclosures, which is a real success for the financial markets.
However, if this is going to move forward in a meaningful way this must become standardised, simple to rate and a mandatory return. Whether this comes via the financial markets or government first is presently moot.
‘Stamp duty holiday a sensible idea for market recovery’ – Star Letter 19/06/2020
This week’s comment came from Matt who replied to the article: Housing market fundamentally sound but stamp duty boost needed – Lewis
He said: “Indeed, with the risk of the market going down, stamp duty on top of any potential losses and lenders asking for more deposit, the market is nowhere near to picking back up.
“A stamp duty holiday seems sensible. As a non first–time buyer, I believe this will play a central role in any future decision making.”
‘It’s sad to decline business I would have completed months ago’ – Marketwatch
This week Mortgage Solutions is asking: As rates rise on high loan to value deals (LTV), are you worried about the financial impact on first-time buyers and low deposit borrowers?
Jo Jingree, mortgage adviser, Mortgage Confidence
It’s a concern because lenders have more power when there’s fewer players in the market and I’ve already seen clients hit by the rate rise. They haven’t been huge, but I think it’s something to keep an eye on.
Like every broker in the country I just want more lenders to come in at 85 per cent LTV and over. When that happens, it will inject more natural competition into the market and increases in rates will be less likely. The sooner that happens the better.
First-time buyers (FTBs) are being impacted and it will affect the property market as well. It’s so difficult to get the right high LTV deal that people are putting plans on hold. If they don’t happen to fit the criteria of the mortgages being offered, then they’re either without a mortgage or go with one at a higher rate.
It’s sad having to decline good quality business that I would have been able to do a few months ago but I have to be honest and let people know that they aren’t suitable for some deals.
I think Help to Buy gets around the issue as the equity loan increases the loan size so this might push more people into shared equity deals.
I finally managed to get one of my clients a deal after a two week battle and the rates went up in the meantime so it’s costing them more. They found their dream home and had been looking for ages so even with the rate increases they didn’t want to pull out.
Some people can be flexible, but others are forced to just go with the rates that are available.
Piers Mepstead, managing director, Financial Advice Centre
Covid-19 has reshaped the mortgage market and subsequently the products available. Lenders react to changes in the market by ensuring their business model protects their investments.
But unfortunately, this disproportionately impacts first-time buyers and those with the lowest deposits.
First-time buyers and renters are facing bigger barrier to purchasing a home. For those renting this often means continuing to pay out high rents in excess of the equivalent mortgage payment and being unable to afford to save for a deposit.
This unfair disparity locks hard working individuals into a seemingly inescapable rental cycle.
Our society is becoming more agile and responsive, but lenders do not seem to adapt their lending criteria to reflect this nor are they responding to the widening pool of customers who fit into the first-time buyer category.
Surely it is time for lenders to catch up to the new ways and to widen their view of a potential purchaser beyond deposit. There are many ways to do this including putting more weight in other lending criteria such as proven history and ability to repay.
This feels familiar to many of us, as lending criteria becomes more restrictive after a seismic shift in the economy, the last time being the credit crunch.
Mortgage professionals and consumers need a robust and modern system of agreeing lending that remains consistent in economic good times and bad.
A system that is both fair to borrowers and encourages and supports FTBs, instead of making them pay the penalty for bad lending decisions of the past.
Louis Down, digital marketing manager at HQ Mortgage and Finance
The 90-95 per cent LTV market is clearly of some concern to lenders at the moment, we’re seeing a lot of repricing and a great deal of lenders pulling out of the space altogether.
We believe the priority has to be ensuring products are available at these LTV ranges, if that means the lenders have to reprice in order to manage their risk then so be it.
That is a far better outcome than withdrawing products altogether which effectively shuts out a huge number of FTBs and inevitably has a knock-on effect on the housing market.
Even with higher rates attached to these products, it’s important to remember that rates have been very low for a long time and what we perceive as “expensive” now should be considered in the wider context.
We need lenders to continue offering 90 and 95 per cent products to customers, but they have to be prudent.
We are confident that the rates are as competitive as they can be, given these lenders would like their share of a large market, but they have to manage their risk and meet PRA requirements and we must respect that.
Looking solely at the personal impact on first-time buyers, one potential benefit is that some people might have to defer their purchase until the economy is improved. By which time they should be in a more stable position and there should be a reduced risk of them becoming unemployed.
Poll: Are back gardens the new hot selling point for homes?
Some 74 per cent said they predicted a shift towards properties near green spaces while 68 per cent believe homes with private, non-communal space will become more desirable.
Lockdown restrictions have been a challenge for everyone, but those without gardens have been forced to spend a hot spring trapped indoors.
So this week, Mortgage Solutions wants to know if you have begun to see a rise in the number of buyers looking for a home with its own garden.
Have you seen a rise in house hunters seeking a home with a garden compared to before the pandemic?
‘Big banks need to return public bailout favour with high LTVs’ – Star Letter 12/06/2020
The first was from George Williamson, in response to the article: We cannot turn on lenders overwhelmed with 90 per cent LTV business – Montlake
Williamson said: “The big boys need to come back to market, especially RBS, NatWest, Lloyds and Halifax who have a moral duty to re-enter the market at 90 per cent loan to value (LTV). The UK public bailed them out last time, so now it’s time to return the favour.
“We are in a market that is no busier than it should be at this time, and if mortgage choice is reduced by LTV, then the lenders will start driving down house prices and force a longer and deeper recession – not a great outcome.”
He added: “As for the Bank of England, Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority – using LTV as the major indicator of risk harks back to caveman days, we now have fire, the wheel and our regulators need to have learned this lesson from the credit crunch.
“Using LTV bankrupted many profitable businesses for the sole reason that the LTV covenants had been breached and this was used to assess the capital adequacy of lenders.”
No mortgage applicant is risk-free
Another article which gained a response was: Property sales rebound to near pre-Covid levels – Zoopla
Sox said: “Yes, and most of these are yet to have their mortgages agreed. What I’m seeing from some lenders this week is quite ridiculous.
“Let’s face it, as far as risk assessment goes, no applicant is a sure thing in this environment. Standby to have cases decline for no apparent reason.”
‘Online events are far more focused and the content has improved’ – Marketwatch
Instead, with so many events taking place remotely now, all that is usually needed is a working device and the attendee’s undivided attention to bring them into the meeting.
So this week, Mortgage Solutions is asking: Has your attendance at industry events increased now many of them are online and how does the experience match-up to in-person gatherings?
Alan Fitzpatrick, director of lending operations at Habito
I would say so, yes. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been really struck by the quality of resources, meetings and webinars now available online for both peers and customers.
In many ways, I see more connection now than before lockdown came into effect.
Being an online-first business, making the transition to remote working has been pretty seamless.
Some things of course are harder to do remotely but in the main we’ve all been pleasantly surprised by how we and so many of our partners and industry players have adapted to a new and ever-shifting normal.
Some aspects of what we do have actually flourished in a way that we didn’t expect. Our monthly buy-to-let meet-ups, for example, which used to attract audiences of around 40 or 50 to our office in Aldgate, can now reach much larger audiences online via webinar software like Zoom.
As part of the Home Buying and Selling Group – which was responsible for producing the industry–wide guidance to safely reopen the housing market last month – I’ve experienced firsthand how collaborative and aligned this sector can be when faced with big issues and challenges that affect us all.
The coronavirus crisis has forced us all to look beyond geographical location, diary clashes, time constraints and to prioritise the things that really matter, quicker.
Jonathan Clark, mortgage partner at Chadney Bulgin
I’ve receive a lot of invites to various industry events and like most people, have to carefully pick the ones to attend that I feel will be worthwhile, and justify what will usually be at least a half day away from the office.
You then have the various awards dinners that seem to have multiplied in the last few years, usually involving an evening in London that rarely gets you back home before midnight.
Obviously, these have all changed very suddenly in the last three months, with most events being cancelled for 2020 and only some of them being replaced by online or virtual equivalents.
For me, the number of such invites has declined, as organisers appear to be struggling to recreate these with appealing content.
Despite the obvious convenience and flexibility of meeting online, for me they are just not a substitute for the face-to-face meetings that I welcome the return of, hopefully in 2021.
However, like many things, I expect them to look and feel very different post Covid-19.
Matthew Hillyer, associate director at Largemortgageloans.com
There has been a plethora of content shared by industry voices since the onset of Covid-19.
Industry events have played a part, but there have also been numerous informative videos, articles and group seminars from lenders which our team have found incredibly useful.
It’s also been fantastic that we can keep up with pre-planned training sessions without having to travel, as we would often normally do.
Canvassing the team, we are all in agreement that smaller events are preferable to mass meetings.
Large gatherings have their place, but interaction is limited, and these events therefore become more of a listening exercise, which is perhaps less helpful than a two-way communication.
As a specialist mortgage adviser, we are always looking to the finer details and ordinarily this means lots of face-to-face meetings with lenders.
Nothing can replicate being in a room together, but keeping online meetings smaller means the atmosphere is more intimate and there is more opportunity for direct conversations, meaning the subject matter is often more relevant and tailored to our needs.
Martin Wade, director at Access Equity Release
Stripping away travel, prep and the faff that often accompanies meetings at any level, we can now be far more efficient in how we spend our time.
For some unknown reason, meetings always seem to be scheduled in hour blocks and there is obviously no discernible reason for this.
Physical meetings with external visitors and even with internal work colleagues often lose 10 per cent or even 20 per cent of their time to pleasantries and water-cooler chit chat.
This appears to happen less so with online events.
We tried to introduce Skype calls internally about two years ago and failed miserably, there was zero interest, so we gave up. But now, the online meeting is undoubtedly here to stay and there are massive savings in terms of time and travel costs.
Also, our attitude has changed enormously. We are all evaluating what is and what is not important.
Leisure and family time for many has increased, and we like it. I have certainly found that online events and meetings are far more focused, content and delivery has already improved over the last three months.
There is no better way to quickly establish rapport and friendship than in person but for the day-to-day purpose of getting stuff done, online events work extremely well.
There is room for improvement of course, we don’t need to fill time and should be happy to cut meetings short if they have served their purpose.
‘Industry statistics do not reflect the reality of business’ – Marketwatch
So this week, Mortgage Solutions is asking: How important are industry statistics in your understanding of the overall market?
Adam Wells, co-founder of Lloyd Wells Mortgages
We regularly keep an eye on the industry news and between fellow co-founder Pete Lloyd and I, we will discuss anything that stands out. That being said, the importance of them is quite low.
We are always pushing ourselves to be the best we can be and the news at the minute is that purchases have dried up, but there was a busy remortgaging period in April.
We are still completing applications on purchases and remortgages, residential and buy-to-let. Maybe as a relatively young business in a strong Bristol market, we haven’t been impacted in the same way as the large brokerages who might be based in the South East.
We find that the industry statistics don’t always reflect how our business is performing. We see many brokerages who deal with new–build homes, equity release, or buy-to-lets that have been severely impacted.
As we haven’t concentrated on one niche, we have been able to adapt and focus on the clients that are looking for help during this difficult time.
When it comes to data, we trust some more than others and tend to concentrate on the sources we know. Be that from Halifax or L&G for example. If the information is being reported from a reputable source, we are also more likely to read it.
The pause in house price indexes is less of an issue for us as we don’t use it for our own forecasting.
Our outlook will remain the same regardless. We know what our targets are and what we need to do to achieve them.
I’m sure most businesses are being realistic about this year and have already got their plans in place to make it a success.
James McGregor, director of Mesa Financial
I take industry stats with a huge pinch of salt.
It seems every lender has their own stats on property prices and the market which usually supports their own business interests.
A lot of the time they are well away from the reality of the larger economic data that is being released.
I would say the only two pieces of data you can rely on when looking at the property market is the actual sold prices and how many transactions have been completed.
This gives a gauge on valuations as well as how liquid the market is.
Luckily our outlook on business is nothing to do with any data that is released.
We can only work on things that we can control, so I do not believe there will be much impact on our business at all given the lack of data and pauses on house price indexes.
Mesa Financial is all about looking after our clients and we will continue to do this through the good and bad times.
Akhil Mair, managing director of Our Mortgage Broker
To be honest it is not really something I pay much attention to because various sources conflict one another when it comes to the house price index (HPI) index, number of sales, average sale times and so on.
They do not often reflect how business is going for me. In the last 12 weeks I have seen and managed to support more clients than in the previous 12 weeks.
Our business continues to grow because of our strong client relationship and professional introducers.
I don’t really trust or rely on any particular sources as I try to stay clear of data. I find it manipulated or find the source has an agenda.
I tend to work with my introducers, clients and lenders and best support them with real time and live information.
The lack of data has not influenced my outlook on this year. I strongly believe every property has a buyer and every vendor can achieve a sale.
The key is to work with the right partners to understand the motives and create a win–win.
The UK is lacking in new homes being built and borrowing is at the cheapest it has ever been; therefore, I strongly believe there will be a pent-up demand for the remainder of 2020 and in 2021.