Reasons to be cheerful… part 3
David Gilman is the partner in charge of Blacks Connect
I’ve been feeling cautiously optimistic about the mortgage and property markets for a while now – positive enough to launch a conveyancing business into the broker market last summer, Blacks Connect.
Now I am even more confident that, not only did we time our launch correctly, but that we can now see genuine green shoots in the housing market – and therefore also in the mortgage and conveyancing sectors.
In the last week alone we have seen a raft of good news stories about the housing market:
The Council of Mortgage Lenders said that first-time buyer figures hit a five-year high in February – up 17% over the last year.
· Halifax reported that house price optimism among Brits has risen sharply over the last three months, with the majority, 55%, believing that now is a good time to buy.
· House prices support this wave of optimism. According to Rightmove, average UK asking prices in April were up 2.1%, hitting £244,706, the highest April figure ever recorded, and the fourth consecutive monthly rise.
· Sold prices, as measured by the Office of National Statistics, were also up by 1.9% in February over the last 12 months.
The stats show us that things are slowly improving – and let’s be realistic, we are only talking about a steady improvement, not a dramatic boost to the market.
But what gives me just as much hope as the figures coming through in 2013, is the obvious rise in confidence across the mortgage market. Brokers in particular are reporting increased enquiries, combined with an increased willingness to lend from banks and building societies – exactly what we’ve all been waiting for.
Of course, you have to take what you read in the media with a pinch of salt. Those broker firms that tend to shout the loudest also happen to be the larger firms, and predominantly London based. So it’s no surprise they are seeing healthy business volumes.
However, I speak to brokers up and down the country and the positive mood is not just confined to the capital – the pick-up in business is being seen across the country, albeit to different degrees.
At Blacks Connect we are feeling really positive about the future – business volumes are up, more deals are reaching completion and we are working with a growing number of mortgage intermediaries.
It’s been a tough few years for everyone but, finally, the future’s looking bright.