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23 Monday Dec 2013

Light at the end of the tunnel Posted by:

New year, new mortgage market. Or at least that’s how it feels. There is more optimism around than I’ve seen in a long while. Certainly, my mortgage broker clients who saw business pick up towards the end of last year, report that this happy state of affairs has continued into this month.

Data out this week from HM Revenue & Customs reveals that UK house sales increased last year to the highest levels seen since 2007. The Council of Mortgage Lenders also reported that last year the number of first-time buyers reached its highest level since the credit crunch started.

Lenders, who have been accused of lacking innovation and a desire to lend in the recent past, have contributed significantly to the improved outlook for the market. The Government’s Funding for Lending scheme, which has been berated in some quarters for getting off to a slow start, is resulting in some cheaper rates at higher loan-to-values. On its own it might not solve every funding issue, but it is already having a positive impact, and there is a long way to go.

Lenders have made it clear that they intend to do more lending this year, which is a start. But some are also bringing back innovation, which is just as important. Barclays’ Family Springboard mortgage and Clydesdale’s 80 per cent interest-only offering, both launched in the past week, are extremely welcome developments. Come on lenders; we need more from the rest of you.

Of course, external factors still have a part to play and as a country we are not insulated from these. But the signs are encouraging, and we look forward to more of the same.