July 2, 2012

It is so easy to be negative about the market we are working in and, if we’re honest, the media, especially the nationals and TV channels, do not help.

Yes, it is tough – both globally and in our market – but where does negativity get you? Normally the doctors, but they’re too busy filling out medical questionnaires, in the rush to beat the gender equalisation rules to see patients!

So the best tonic for beating the bad news blues is to concentrate on the positives within the market. I have listed my top ten current remedies below:

1.       The new Government lending scheme. Whilst the devil will be in the detail, as always, this must be seen as a positive. It can be talked about as quantative easing by another name but that is the positive. If it was just an extra £80bn of QE then it would disappear to shore up balance sheets. Changing the name means it may be used for a wider benefit. Is it Merlin mark 2? Maybe, but noises are positive so far. With most retail channels already at full capacity then any new lending should be through the intermediary channel.

2.       Woolwich’s Helpful Start and Aldermore’s Family Guarantee Mortgage. The guarantor mortgage all but disappeared post credit crunch. It is good to see some lenders starting to realise that the bank of mum and dad are needed to help if first-time buyers are to return in any numbers.

3.       Halifax Valuation promise. It may be excellent PR, but by offering to refund aborted property valuations Halifax are at least acknowledging the issues in buying property these days. Simple transactions are still taking up to 12 weeks and some sellers are getting nervous and pulling out. A safety net, however small, helps.

4.       AFI exclusive products. Welcome back Santander. It seems that there have only been criteria tightening at AFI this year but the product launched at the end of June shows that they are still looking to support the intermediary market. A small step maybe but other lenders may breathe a sigh of relief as some of the volume issues will be eased.

5.       Building society appetite and sensible lending. This attitude probably never went away, it’s just getting a little more prominence now. The building society community have been very resilient during the last few years but their sensible approach to underwriting is allowing high street fails to be placed. The quality of business is good, it just needs wriggle room to get through, which score card lead lenders do not allow.

6.       NewBuy scheme spreading to Wales? NewBuy and the Scottish MI New Home schemes are slowly beginning to make progress. It is good to see that the Welsh Assembly is also looking to work towards a similar scheme in its ‘Home for Wales’ consultation paper.

7.       Libor and fixed rate swaps reducing. Let’s ignore the Barclays issues and fines. The reduction of these funding devices should enable lenders to at least hold the pricing we currently have. The markets are still jittery with Europe and banking downgrades but they seem a lot more resilient than over the last few years.

8.       Precise new criteria changes. A lender that is trying to help those on the fringes of the mainstream market is to be applauded. Since launch Precise have been very sensible and have moved criteria on a regular basis to improve their proposition. One to look at if you have not tried them yet.

9.       Landlord positivity up. TMW’s latest survey is showing that professional landlords who believe they will be buying another property this year has increased from 48% last year to 58% this year. Good news and shows that buy-to-let is still moving in the right direction.

10.   Securitisation. Virgin Money has joined the lenders that are looking to complete a securitisation deal. Whilst it is still very low key, low LTV and mainly high street brands the frequency is increasing. This is beginning to increase the liquidity in the market and allow not only increased lending but also a consistency of proposition.

Obviously none of these on their own will dramatically change the market but they are all new avenues for placing business. I definitely believe that there are more options open to help clients now than there were 12 months ago.

Stay positive it’s not worth a trip to the doctors!

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