Thanks to a strong performance the period Q1 2020 to Q1 2021, New Build completions increased by 4% to 33,074 according to NHBC, showing signs that UK housebuilding is returning to pre-coronavirus levels. In fact, recent data from BuildScan revealed 38.7% of all new build properties are currently sold subject to contract or are under contract.
The boost in demand for new builds is largely due to first-time buyers but the benefits of new build homes, including low running costs, energy efficiency and the ‘newness’ factor, also contribute to a greater appetite among many homebuyers in the UK for these types of properties.
It’s unsurprising that many people are turning to the new build market. The HTB Equity Loan Scheme initiative has proved instrumental in helping people onto the housing ladder, supporting more than 313,000 property purchases since the scheme launched in 2013 – 82% of which were by first time buyers.
Taking all these factors into account, it’s fair to say confidence in the new build property market remains high.
New build is here to stay
Despite this confidence, just like many other industries, the new build market did not escape the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on the housing sector last year. Delays to build programmes, being unable to complete physical valuations and decreasing product choice, particularly at higher loan to value (LTV) ratios, took its toll on completions.
However, with the new HTB scheme now open and running until 2023, along with the announcement of the Government’s new mortgage guarantee scheme, it’s clear the new build market continues to be supported by policy as well as demand.
Specialist support is key
What isn’t here to stay, however, is the ‘perfect’ borrower. The impact of the pandemic has sadly taken its toll on the finances of millions across the UK, consequently creating a new generation of borrowers with impaired access to credit, with 10.1 million adults showing signs of financial difficulty in January 2021.
Even before the crisis, there was a clear shift away from ‘vanilla’ borrowers to customers with less traditional circumstances – reaffirmed by Vida’s research that found one fifth (18%) of renters said that, prior to the pandemic, they struggled to find a lender that was willing to give them a mortgage. But with 11.2 million people furloughed as a result of COVID-19, if there ever was such thing as a ‘perfect’ borrower they have become increasingly hard to find.
However with approximately 85-90% of all new build mortgages arranged by advisers, at Vida we feel it’s important to offer dedicated new build support to our intermediary partners who specialise in this vital area of the market. This is why we have a dedicated underwriting team in place to provide speed, clarity and consistency for application processing times, so that advisers are met with the service they deserve while helping underserved customers.
By having a flexible and human approach to lending, specialist lenders will be vital in supporting these types of borrowers, growth in this sector is vital and will continue to represent a significant part of the UK housing market.
At Vida, we’re determined to do our bit in building momentum in the industry, while supporting borrowers in today’s everchanging world.
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