Industry events highlight the communal effort for an industry wide COVID recovery

Simon O’Donnell

October 26, 2021

Simon O’Donnell is a business development manager at Saffron for Intermediaries

As a new BDM, I knew the value of face-to-face meetings with brokers, but I have had a limited opportunity to attend any due to the pandemic. That has all changed now as I have spent the last couple of weeks at some amazing events meeting lots of interesting people.

The impact of meeting with brokers face-to-face is undeniable. Not only do we get to have some great conversations, but these congregations are opportunities to garner some precious industry insight.

As this was my first round of events as a new field BDM at Saffron, and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting into the swing of large-scale meet-ups.

I have noticed that an area of interest in this post-pandemic mortgage market is definitely an important analysis of consumer trends – the life-changing effects of the pandemic have totally shifted the focus of our industry and how we should be meeting consumer needs.

I see a united front of brokers and lenders working together to contribute to society’s wider pandemic recovery. We recently went to L&G Mortgage Club’s autumn roadshow events in Newport and Solihull, and saw this in action as we attended some interesting talks about industry trends.

We particularly enjoyed a presentation from the folks at Right Move about trends in the search terms that they have seen on their platform between 2018 and 2021.

Property search engines are valuable resources for our industry, and whilst the changes in the property types that consumers are looking for post-pandemic might seem obvious, it was fascinating to hear that our assertions can be confirmed by this data.

In 2018, the most popular search terms for people looking to buy property were, ‘Garden’, ‘Garage’, ‘Balcony’, ‘Pool’ and ‘Parking’. Compare this with 2021, where the popular terms are ‘Acre’, ‘Garage’, ‘Annexe’, ‘Rural’ and ‘Land’.

It’s easy to see where this is going – the general trend is that people are now looking for homes that will easier facilitate working from home or that are self-build locations.

Who could have predicted this mass movement from the hot city location properties a couple of years ago? Funnily enough, 2021 also brought with it a spike in renters looking for properties that contained the word ‘pet-friendly’ – but the lockdown-induced pet ownership boom is a topic for another time.

Apart from sitting in on fascinating presentations, the relationship-building piece of mortgage club events is vital for BDMs like myself.

The value of an impactful BDM-Broker relationship is something that we champion at Saffron, and I have been reminded at these events over the past few weeks of how important conversations on the show floor can be in building the right connection with brokers.

It is our recent policy amendments that have sparked many of these conversations, particularly in the light of current themes of pandemic recovery and a changing approach to how we consider cases.

It seems logical that lenders’ retrospective consideration of the financial years most affected by the pandemic so far (i.e. 20-21) will need to have a level of flexibility.

In conversation with brokers at the mortgage club events, I have noticed that a huge majority of their cases have been negatively affected by the past two years.

It is great to see an industry-wide effort to re-evaluate criteria and the approach to affordability for those who have been the worst impacted – particularly, the self-employed.

These are the cases who were least assisted by the furlough scheme, and this is a group that we at Saffron are actively trying to support in their applications.

I’m hopeful that industry events and mortgage club meets will be able to continue into this winter and beyond – who knows what could happen as we continue to adjust on our path to emergence from this pandemic.

It is without doubt, however, that the important conversations we are having this event season are helping to spread the ideas of flexibility when it comes to analysing affordability after the last two years. If not only for mortgage consumers, then this is our way of helping the entire economy on its path to recovery.

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