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Brokers see fall in mortgage business

Mortgage brokers have seen the biggest drop in business volumes in more than two years, according to the latest Mortgage Market Tracker from the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA).

The average number of cases brokers handle on an annual basis dropped by 10% in Q3 2018, from 90 to 81 cases. This is the largest quarterly drop since Q1 2016, when annual average cases fell 11% (82 to 72 cases) in Q1 2016 (Chart 1).

For the first time since 2016, the percentage of brokers who professed to be “very confident” about their own business’ fell, from 68% to 60%.

The drop in mortgage broker activity reflects the drop in the number of mortgage purchase completions on a year-on-year basis. According to UK Finance statistics, the number of first-time buyer, homemovers and buy-to-let investors in Q3 2018 all fell compared to a year ago (Table 1).

Table 1: Number of loans completed, quarterly

Type of loan Number of loans Q3 2017 Number of loans Q2 2018 Number of loans Q3 2018 Percentage change YoY
FTB   96,700 92,900 96,200 -0.5%
89,200 100,000 -4.7%
113,800 120,800 8.7%
15,900 16,700 -15.3%
BTL Remortgage
41,400 40,800 3.8%

Source: UK Finance

Conversely, remortgage activity continues to remain strong. Quarterly figures for residential remortgages were up more than 6%, annual remortgage activity for both residential and BTL loans grew compared with Q3 2017.

Separate IMLA research also suggests that fewer brokers are feeling positive about the mortgage market in 2018.  In H1 2018, a third of brokers (33%) felt the current market would “improve a little” but by H2 2018 that had fallen to just a fifth of brokers (20%).

The quarterly IMLA Mortgage Market Tracker – which uses data from BVA BDRC– found that for those who move forward with a property transaction, the market continues to work well with nearly nine in 10 (88%) of all mortgage applications via intermediaries leading to offers.

Kate Davies, executive director of IMLA, commented: “These latest survey results show that sentiment among buyers and movers is currently at a low point.  Whilst the Brexit negotiations remain so complex and uncertain, many people may be adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach before moving forward with a property purchase.

“While the national uncertainty doesn’t help the prospects of our mortgage brokers, it’s encouraging to see that when an intermediary does apply for a loan on their client’s behalf, they are being accepted. Mortgages going from application to offer remain at more than two-year highs as intermediary lenders continue to find solutions for clients.”

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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Third Of Mortgage Brokers’ Buy To Let Business From Limited Companies

Approximately a third of mortgage brokers’ buy to let business will come from limited company clients in the next few years.

The prediction came from Mortgages for Business chief executive David Whittaker. Whittaker stated that there remained ‘considerable opportunity’ for mortgage brokers in the buy to let sector, despite a shrinking rental market.

At the Financial Services Expo in Manchester, Whittaker stated that falls in buy to let lending were beginning to stabilise but an uptick is not on the horizon. He said: ‘In 2018 we expect there to be £32 billion of gross lending, and this will fall to £28 billion in 2019. However we do believe this will have bottomed out by 2020, and a reshaped buy to let market is where advisers will do very well.’

Research from Mortgages for Business suggests that the buy to let market is currently evenly split between limited company and sole name business. However, seven out of 10 new purchases are now completed via a limited company structure proving its popularity.

According to One Savings Bank sales director Adrian Moloney, 17 lenders now offer close to 300 limited company products for mortgage brokers to choose from.

Whittaker also called for increased transparency from for buy to let lenders regarding their policies for properties that fail the new Energy Performance Certificate regulations.

The regulations that came into force on 1 April this year make it illegal for landlords to start new tenancies if a property has an EPC rating of F or G.

Whittaker said: ‘What will lenders’ position be on properties which don’t make the grade? As of now only three lenders have made their position clear on this issue. Clients will need the right EPCs on all their properties, but 4.3 per cent of properties are currently in the worst ‘G’ rating – and over 11 per cent of these are in the private rental sector so this could be a major issue.’

Source: Residential Landlord

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Most home buyers would use a mortgage broker

The majority of home movers and first-time buyers would use a broker to secure their mortgage, according to Legal & General’s Mortgage Myths campaign.

The Legal & General Mortgage Club’s research found that four out of five UK homeowners (81%) who bought a property in the last 12 months would use a broker if they were securing their mortgage again.

Meanwhile, three-quarters (75%) of those intending to buy their first home with a mortgage  in the next six months would be likely to seek the advice of a broker.

Consumers are also more likely to use a mortgage broker if they have specialist circumstances:

  • 71% would be likely to seek advice from a broker if they had a poor credit rating
  • 62% would turn to use a broker if they were self-employed or worked as a contractor
  • 67% would speak to a broker about buy-to-let mortgages.

More than half (53%) of respondents who had made a recent home purchase said they used a mortgage broker because it gave them access to a wider range of mortgage deals. Consumers have access to 30,482 mortgages compared to only 3,408 products for those who go direct to a lender, according to mortgage sourcing firm Trigold.

A third (33%) of respondents said using a broker removed the hassle of filling out forms and applications, while 36% felt brokers provided them with reassurance of talking to someone.

Kevin Roberts, director of Legal & General Mortgage Club, commented: “These figures should come as a positive message for mortgage brokers across the UK, showing that there is clearly a recognition amongst consumers about the value of professional advice, whether they are an existing homeowner, a first-time buyer, a borrower with a complex income or a prospective landlord.

“However, while this is clearly positive news, there are still buyers out there that either remain unware of the role of a broker or who have misconceptions about the value they can provide. As an industry, we need to reach out to these consumers and use campaigns like Mortgage Myths to showcase the important role that brokers play in helping borrowers across the UK.”

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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Three actions for mortgage brokers to take in 2018

A quick look back at 2017 shows that mortgage brokers had a lot to be thankful for.

In spite of a weaker economy, the election and Brexit uncertainty, last year was still a strong year for the mortgage market.

The industry has remained resilient in a low interest rate environment and the Autumn Budget delivered welcome news with the promise of 300,000 new homes a year, £10bn in funding for Help to Buy and the exemption of stamp duty for first-time buyers.

Brokers and lenders have been able to return to work in January with significant optimism for the year ahead. Whether it proves warranted, however, will partly depend on them.

For a start, when it comes to government announcements, we’ve seen pledges to tackle the housing crisis with thousands of new homes before.

What matters is whether it materialises in the form of houses on the ground. The whole industry should be pushing to see that it does.

In the meantime, affordability will remain a key issue in 2018.

Analysts at Hometrack recently noted that the house price-to-salary ratio in London hit a record high at 14.5 times the average wage.

Stamp duty savings pale beside the size of deposits savers still have to muster and, even if interest rates remain low, the next rise could come sooner rather than later.

Of course, brokers can help here. In fact, this just means they’re more important than ever.

But to do so they need to work hard on three fronts:

1) First, they must be clear about the value they bring.

Our recent ‘Value of a Broker’ campaign showed worrying misunderstandings about a broker’s role.

Fewer than half, for instance, knew that the broker works primarily for the borrower and more than half of consumers thought brokers offered them the access to the same products as when going directly to a bank or building society.

Advisers need to be loud and clear about the value they bring, including the access they offer to thousands more mortgage products for consumers.

2) They need to make sure they have the knowledge to make the most of opportunity.

Where buyers are struggling to raise a sufficient deposit, advisers need to be in a position to present them with all the options.

For example, could the Bank of Mum and Dad help? If they can’t afford to buy locally, could buy-to-let somewhere else offer an alternative way to secure a foot on the housing ladder? Are they aware of schemes such as Shared Ownership that could be an alternative route?

Brokers need to have a broad view of the market, be aware of all the options available to buyers and be able to tackle any misconceptions clients might have about housing schemes.

If brokers are to also fully showcase their value to consumers, they’ll need to meet growing demand from borrowers with specialist or complex circumstances. Whether that’s advising their clients on equity release or buy-to-let themselves, or referring their customers to a master broker that can offer them the support they need, in 2018 intermediaries will increasingly need to be a one-stop-shop for the consumer.

Retirement lending is only growing in importance and buy-to-let is becoming increasingly specialist, so for those who do intend to support their clients in these areas, education will remain key.

Brokers will also need to look to the growing opportunities that product transfers and remortgaging bring. Both provide a chance for brokers to really add value by saving their clients potentially thousands of pounds on their mortgage, while also deepening their relationship with the customer – stopping lenders or other brokers stepping in to take over.

Product transfers specifically are simple, quick processes that require no new underwriting. Advisers will need to ensure this is the right option for their client, but there is potential to grasp here, including for many buy-to-let clients who are yet to remortgage since the adoption of the Stamp Duty tax.

3) Finally, brokers need to ensure they make the most of technology.

That doesn’t mean they need to switch to robo-advice, but it does mean using the technology available to enhance their efficiency and service.

Whether it’s case management or digitising client and lender communications to speed up mortgage applications, brokers must grasp the opportunity technology provides.

It’s not likely to end well for those who bury their head in the sand, and by the time they try to catch up with the changes in technology, they may find it’s too late.

For those willing to embrace the opportunities in 2018, though, the coming year looks positive.

Jeremy Duncombe is director of Legal & General Mortgage Club

Source: FT Adviser