Show your clients what you can do

19 Jun 2020

The first sets of house price and approvals and lending data covering the period of the lockdown are now starting to be released, and, while they might not make for wholly positive reading for mortgage market stakeholders, they (at least not yet) don’t appear to be showing the kind of big drops that some have predicted.

Nationwide reported a monthly fall in prices of 1.7 per cent between April and May but the Halifax index showed just a 0.2 per cent monthly fall. Where the true figure lies remains to be seen, but we’ve also heard anecdotally from agents and surveyors that with demand holding up, so too are prices.

However the Bank of England’s recent mortgage approvals data showed those for house purchase dropped by 80 per cent between February and April. While remortgaging with a new lender fell by 34 per cent, gross mortgage borrowing fell by 38% over the same period and repayment of loans fell by 26 per cent.

This is not likely to be too surprising to anyone active in the market, but I wonder whether those looking from the outward-in might be surprised that the drop isn’t even more severe.

Of course, future data might reveal that to be the case, but there’s also the possibility that we are already starting to see a considerable bounceback from the point that the easing of the lockdown was introduced in mid-May.

What we can say, however, is that during the lockdown period, and having to cope especially with the lack of any physical valuations taking place, business was still being written and the ability to utilise remote valuations and AVMs undoubtedly helped the case of all mortgage market practitioners enormously.

In the last couple of weeks, the pipeline of cases has been worked through and I suspect with each day we are getting closer to those pre-Covid-19 lockdown cases being worked through the system to their natural conclusion. We may already be there.

The big question is, of course, what comes next? Many have predicted that pent-up demand will fuel the first batch of new business and we’ve seen notable spikes in activity, but to coin a phrase, when can we expect a ‘second wave‘ and what do advisers need to be doing in order to generate it?

Certainly this is not the time to be backward in moving forward. We may have missed the traditional spring housing market bounce, but the equally traditional summer market lull now seems unlikely to take place, most obviously because it looks likely the vast majority of us will be staying in these shores.

We have to target those individuals who will now feel motivated to put their property plans into place, and not just residential borrowers but landlords, too. For example, consider those who might see the current situation as ripe for a foray into purchasing. Plus, of course, those whose situation may well have changed recently, and the many thousands of borrowers who will still be coming to the end of their existing deals soon.

If they have confidence that, despite the lockdown and the rather different environment for the housing market, they can still execute their plans then they are likely to do so.

We have to work together to get the message out that the entire housing market is open for business and we are able to achieve our clients‘ aims, whatever they might be.

The stats and data are showing positive shoots so use this opportunity to make contact and paint a picture of a market which can still do what borrowers – new and existing – need it to do.

Bob Hunt

Blog Archive