We are now well into a period where, historically speaking at least, activity levels across the housing market have tended to increase with mainstream purchase business largely dominating.
The nature of the UK housing market means that this type of business will always remain prominent. However, in the wake of additional financial burdens being placed on first-time buyers, second steppers and later life borrowers – in addition to rising affordability concerns, criteria changes, complex income calculations, risk appetites and many more influencing factors – demand is rising for more specialist residential options.
This trend is also impacting an advice process which has previously lent heavily on a predominantly vanilla fixed rate churn, meaning it’s little wonder that a growing number of advisers are realising the value of trusted packaging partners in helping them and their clients to navigate some challenging economic and lending conditions.
When faced with the question of what their biggest challenge will be in 2023, a survey of more than 500 brokers conducted by Pepper Money found that nearly 26% of brokers are concerned about finding a mortgage for customers with adverse credit in the year ahead.
The next hardest area in which to place cases, according to nearly 22% of brokers, will be buy-to-let, with remortgaging at high LTVs viewed as the most challenging by nearly 12% of brokers. Just over 11% of brokers said they expect to have trouble finding a mortgage for their self-employed customers and those with complex income, while nearly 10% think they will struggle to find a mortgage for first-time buyers. Just under 9% were most concerned about accessing a mortgage for older customers nearing retirement.
These highlighted areas are valid concerns amongst the intermediary community but a wide range of options remain available. Especially from those lenders who maintain a more flexible underwriting approach and have the ability to take individual circumstances into account when assessing a variety of property-related transactions.
This is also the case in a buy-to-let sector which has become even more multifaceted in recent times due to increased levels of activity around portfolios landlords, limited companies, MUFBs, HMOs and other more complex lending scenarios.
Questions continue to be raised over the future of BTL following rising rates and increased stress testing but this remains a robust sector where demand and opportunities are still out there. March 2023 even saw the highest-ever volume of buy-to-let mortgage searches on the Twenty7tec platform in a single month.
The data showed that 347,419 searches for buy-to-let mortgages were handled over the course of the month, representing a 12.6% increase on the volume of searches in February. Translating these searches into cases is another matter, which again emphasises the importance of the role played by packaging partners in helping to facilitate the more intricate and time-consuming enquiries.
As the BTL sector moves in an increasingly professional direction, we are seeing it form an even closer relationship with bridging finance as a facility to help landlords to take advantage of a property market which is experiencing something of a lull. From helping them to purchase a new portfolio addition at an auction, through to raising funds to make improvements on existing properties as an alternative to locking into a remortgage rate, this is an association which is helping to bolster the volume of bridging business being written.
March saw Together lend more than £115m of short-term finance across its commercial business, a record in its 49-year history and an 8.5% increase on its previous record of £106m, set in May last year. Its group lending in March topped £256m across its commercial and personal finance business. In addition, the OSB Group’s gross bridging loan book was reported to have increased by almost £100m in 2022 and Signature Property Finance posted a record first quarter lending figure of £26.6 million. With data from the Association of Short Term Lenders (ASTL) for Q4 2022 also showing that bridging applications and loan books continued to grow over the quarter by 9.1% compared to Q3 – at a value of £8.6m – this further emphasises the growing demand attached to bridging finance. And the value of being able to access a variety of specialist lenders who can meet borrowers ever shifting needs.
Donna Wells, Director at Envelop