The stories that hit the headlines in 2018

Ryan Bembridge

December 31, 2018

Ryan Bembridge (pictured) is News Editor of Mortgage Introducer

Our magazine’s most read news stories reflect the changes, highs and the lows we’ve seen this year.

It was a heavy start for some, with Open Banking being introduced on 13 January, affecting nine of the UK’s biggest lenders. While it feels like its potential has yet to be realised, at the time the consensus was that Open Banking will end up streamlining the mortgage process.

One larger than life story that month was about a fraudster using associates and forged documents to secure a mortgage on 21 properties in the suburbs of Birmingham. Not only did he use his gains to build an estate in Pakistan modelled on Buckingham Palace; he had the rockstar nickname, ‘The General’. It’s not surprising that one attracted interest.

Negative stories can garner lots of attention, as was the case in May when it emerged that brokers advising on interest-only mortgages between 2004 and 2008 are in the firing line for misselling. As tech firm ME Group looks to launch an advertising campaign encouraging consumers to claim against brokers, this story could run and run in 2019.

Notably we also reported on Patrick Bunton’s resignation from L&C in January, while in February we found that Shawbrook admitted it lost market confidence and sent brokers an apology. With the latter story you have to respect a lender willing to hold its hands up and it will be interesting to see what changes happen at Shawbrook in the new year.

The equity release industry continued its trend as a growing sector in 2018, though it received some high profile coverage from a report saying the impact of no negative equity guarantees were underestimated. The study was met with some bemusement from Dean Mirfin and Robert Sinclair at the time, though a senior equity release source anonymously said “this has been brewing for a while”. It remains to be seen whether the whispers of doom hold water.

It was a mixed bag when it came to house price growth in 2018. In February Tony Ward of Home Funding argued that there would be no house price collapse in 2018, and while he was generally proved right parts of London and the South East haven’t had the best year. Areas that did perform well include Newport in South Wales.

Buy-to-let’s standing received plenty of coverage this year. While brokers will have welcomed the news that buy-to-let landlords will still benefit from £16.7bn of tax relief changes after 2020, there was plenty of negativity around that market. In May ARLA Propertymark saw the highest number of landlords sell their buy-to-let properties since it started taking records in 2015, while the National Landlord’s Association said one in five landlords were looking to sell a property in 2018.

With the mainstream market becoming less attractive for some there was increased interest in HMOs, so it is perhaps unsurprising that an article about a court case setting a precedent that could result in HMO landlords saving hundreds of pounds a year attracted plenty of interest. Similarly plenty read a blog by Simon Conn about investing in Portuguese property. Perhaps investors are now looking further afield than in past years owing to a rockier UK market.

See you in 2019 for more stories to educate, entertain and stimulate healthy debate!

Until then, I hope you all enjoy your New Year’s parties.

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