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When the going gets tough

Billy Ocean once sang that when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

But sometimes, as in the mortgage market at the moment, the tough is so difficult that it is better just to lay low and hope for the best.

News emerged this week that mortgage guru Stephen Knight will not be going ahead with his new venture, Checkmate Mortgages, on the timescale he originally planned.

Knight had said he would look to launch Checkmate between Q4 2008 and Q1 2009 but he told Money Marketing this week that this would no longer be the case.

Knight says: “I did predict there would be a major market correction but I cannot say I foresaw such a big liquidity hit. We said we would be launching between Q4 2008 and Q1 2009 but we certainly will not be launching then.”

He says the postponement is not a problem for the venture as it is carrying very low overheads which he can afford to fund.

Knight adds: “I am taking a very long look at the market. It is dreadful out there and it is deteriorating every day. It is a waiting game at the moment. We are doing work on our systems and processes in the meantime.”

As a respected figure in the industry, Knight’s opinion is often taken as gospel by many in the industry. The Mortgage Practitioner sole practitioner Danny Lovey says: “There is no better person in position that Stephen to form a judgement. He is the man I have been watching to see when he moves back into the market.”

Meanwhile Edeus – renowned for being one of the most vocal lenders in the market when it comes to PR – has claimed it is still completing assets but is not publicising them as it does not want to give competitors information about its deals.

Managing director Alan Cleary also says its warehouse lines are due for renegotiation in the latter half of the year. He says: “In fairness, in this market it is not that relevant because we are controlling our lending to fairly low volumes. We are well within our warehouse agreements in terms of amounts.”

Chief executive Michael Bolton had previously told MM that it was set to “virtually empty” its £1.2bn warehouse line with the completion of a whole loanbook sale to a building society at the start of 2008.

Cleary says: “We are still doing that but we are not publicising it because the market is so competitive. Not in a million years will we tell anyone who we are trading with but we are trading our assets as planned. It is so competitive that I would not want to give any of our competitors any headway.”

Other news saw Woolwich announce it will be cutting buy to let loan to values to 75 per cent. In an email to brokers, the lender says it was to withdraw its 85 per cent LTV BTL. range so that is can effectively manage the flow of business it has received.

It says its £75 repeat business discount will no longer be available for existing BTL customers making additional BTL mortgage applications. The full application fee is now payable for all new applications.

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