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A BUOYANT SUMMER

By Rob Jupp

There appears to be a dichotomy between some of the headlines about a ‘slump’ and the reality on the ground. Almost all of the figures that have been released about the mortgage market recently have been positive, or at least stable.

Our own experience at Brightstar, and that of the brokers we speak to, appears to be the same – it is at least business as usual with many people reporting an increase in business this summer.

Negative news makes a good headline, but when it does not reflect the actual state of the market it can be a dangerous thing. If people start listening to headlines over their own experiences, and being more cautious as a result, or putting off investments or house buying, then the negativity can be a self-fulfilling prophesy. This is something that we can all play a part in avoiding by talking about the positives when they occur. This is not about being unrealistic, but about shouting when there is good news because it effects the whole market.

For example, Brightstar is seeing record results this August. Despite so many people away on holiday, our commercial property division, looks like it could double volumes this year compared to last August.

Second charge mortgage volumes are also up significantly; some of this is due to the MCD and it is clear that being regulated and able to provide clients with a better fact finding process for second charges is leading to significantly more completions. This is because borrowers are now clear about what they are taking out and why a second charge is better than the other options available for them at this particular time.

Bridging is also up however and this was clearly illustrated in the ASTL’s Quarter Two figures released recently, where the value of completions was up 6% quarter on quarter, while applications were up 61%.

These are the sort of headlines we need reflected across both trade and national media. I’m not talking about unbridled optimism, but let’s not bring the country down when, at the moment at least, many of the figures are holding their own or pointing in an upward direction.

First hand experience says that things are looking pretty positive and consumer confidence remains strong. At the point of writing BBA results show gross lending results for July up 6% year on year and net lending 3% higher than a year ago.

In the specialist mortgage environment, both demand and opportunity are up as interest rates have never been better. What’s more, there are more new lenders entering the market all the time with broader propositions catering for niches in the market that haven’t been looked at for nearly ten years. We are even seeing demand for buy-to-let come back, after the dip following the stamp duty changes; particularly for limited companies.

It is true that uncertainty remains and will continue for some years to come, but this is our new normal. The drop in the exchange rate whole not so good for some is an opportunity for others and there are already signs that is attracting overseas buyers and investment funds.

So let’s together have a concerted effort to focus on what is going well in the market. Let’s ensure confidence remains by shouting about the positives and putting any negative news in context, without emotive headlines and over-egged news of a downturn where there is none. We are doing well as a market, let us now work together to make sure it stays that way.