The usual January blues have certainly not filtered through to the mortgage market with a raft of positive house price predictions further invigorated by the Help to Buy scheme.
The Bank of England’s latest Credit Conditions survey for Q4 illustrated an increase in mortgage availability for borrowers with LTV ratios above 75 per cent and an “increased willingness” to lend at LTV ratios above 90 per cent. It said this was the result of lenders competing for market share, being more confident in rising house prices and an “increased appetite for risk”.
This Q4 positivity was also underlined in the latest Mortgage Monitor from e.surv which suggested December was the best month for home lending in six years since 2007.
The BoE Credit Conditions report said it expects a “significant” increase in the supply of mortgages in 2014 even at levels above 90 per cent LTV.
There is little doubt activity will continue to rise significantly in the first months of 2014, with the second phase of Help to Buy boosting borrower interest and competition, especially at these higher LTV levels.
Competitive and attractive deals remain at many LTV levels but with interest rate murmurs in the offing it is vital borrowers do not look to overstretch themselves. This underlines the importance of seeking professional advice but also underlines opportunities available throughout the intermediary market.
Unbiased.co.uk has found that only 29 per cent of UK adults have sought professional financial advice in their lifetime. The research found consumers who take advice tend to follow a pattern with mortgages often the first reason to seek advice followed by protection and pensions.
Of those who had sought advice, 32 per cent say it helped them make sense of financial products, 25 per cent say it gave them confidence in their decisions and for 23 per cent say it saved time while 17 per cent say it saved money.
These figures help us understand the engagement process but also illustrate the potential numbers still out there who have not already benefitted from professional financial advice.
It’s been said many times but adding extra value to clients has never been so apparent and building even stronger relationship with existing clients is the platform on which to really integrate this value.
The state of the market dictates that new business will come through our door in 2014 but no matter how busy we become it is having robust service values in place for existing as well as new clients that will help us all grow our business in the right way.
David Finlay is intermediary managing director for Barclays