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Keith Street, chief commercial officer at The Mortgage Lender, says people are fed up with B word and instead of holding out to see what happens are now making moves in the property market.

At the beginning of this year I said 2019 was going to be an interesting year in the mortgage market, and that was probably an understatement.

Seven months into 2019 and we’ve failed to leave the European Union, the property market looks like it’s on the up and competition among lenders is fierce.

And home sellers, buyers and buy-to-let investors who were watching but not doing much for the first three months of the year, choosing instead to see what happened when Brexit was out of the way – have started doing something in the last three months.

Fed-up with uncertainty and fed-up with politicians more interested in playing politics than delivering on an instruction from their paymasters, the collective house owning/buying and selling public appears to have decided to get on with their lives irrespective of Brexit and what’s going on in Westminster.

House prices
Mortgage approvals are up, Zoopla is predicting house prices will rise over the next six months and the decline in property prices in the capital is slowing. One removal company, reallymoving, has suggested the market could see a 9% surge in property prices over the next three months based on the number of bookings it has received from people who are planning to move home.

The latest figures from Rightmove show online asking prices are beginning to rise again. The average price of a property coming onto the market in June 2019 was £309,348 compared to £309,439 a year ago.

The overall UK house price is being held up by all-time price highs recorded in the East Midlands, North West, Wales and Yorkshire and the Humber, which saw rises of 0.7%, 1.2%, 0.9% and 0.5% respectively.

In contrast, London saw monthly average asking prices fall by 0.4% where buyers were also more reluctant to commit with a yearly fall of 7.1% in sales agreed compared to a 1.7% fall in the North.

And it does feel like things are changing, landlords are telling us that properties which were sticking on the market are now being sold and properties coming onto the market at the right price are under offer within a week.

Mortgage applications
We’ve also seen it in the applications we’re receiving for residential and buy-to-let. Volumes are significantly up and landlords are refinancing portfolios to raise cash so they can invest in more properties.

Research we carried out among landlords found 84% are looking to maintain or increase the number of properties they own over the next 12 months compared to just 16% who are looking to reduce their portfolios.

Where people were uncertain, they’ve become fed up and decided it’s time to get on with their lives and plans irrespective of the uncertainty around Brexit.

And there couldn’t be a better time for people to be buying with a mortgage or remortgaging. Competition on rates is fierce and so is the appetite in the wholesale market for mortgage backed securities.

LendInvest has securitised £259 million of buy-to-let mortgage loans, Foundation Home Loans £329 million and we also completed our first UK mortgage-backed securitisation of residential assets for £238.5 million.

Overall the remainder of 2019 is likely to mirror what’s happened in the first half of the year.

Lenders have been tweaking their mortgage products and shaving their margins to gain ground in the residential and buy-to-let lending markets.

For us the remainder of the year will also be more of the same. Through innovative product developments and testing, to gauge market response to rate and criteria changes, we’ve seen record volumes in the first half of the year.

We’ve also added expertise to the sale team with the appointment of Steve Griffiths as sales director and we’ve now got a four-strong team of onsite underwriters to support our introducer partners.

At the beginning of the year I said: “Increased competition will mean lots of activity and innovation as lenders jockey to find their sweet spot and ensure visibility of their proposition to the widest market possible.”

We’ve seen that play out in the first half of the year. What’s left of 2019, I believe, will see those lenders who are investing in the quality of the relationships with their introducer partners pull further ahead of those who rely on sourcing systems and best buy tables to generate new business.

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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