Intermediary confidence holds during busy second quarter
Aug 19, 2020 ~4 minute read

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A busy second quarter has kept intermediaries confident about the mortgage market’s prospects, as buyers returned to the housing market after lockdown.

New data from the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) shows a slight recovery in intermediary confidence in Q2, with the number of advisers feeling either ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ confident in the outlook for the intermediary sector rising from 85% in Q1 to 88% in Q2.

IMLA’s Mortgage Market Tracker found confidence in the wider mortgage market remained consistent with Q1, although that figure was still down when compared with 2019.

The majority of intermediaries (93%) remained positive about the outlook for their own businesses in Q2.

This follows fluctuations in Q1 as positivity amongst intermediaries towards the market in January (95%) and February (97%) gave way to concern at the start of the crisis, with the proportion of intermediaries not confident about the outlook for the mortgage market rising to 47% in March.

The data comes as advisers face an unprecedented level of demand from consumers eager to press ahead with plans to buy property after the lockdown.

While the Bank of England reported a fall in gross lending volumes between Q1 2020 (£63.8bn) and Q2 2020 (£44.1bn), IMLA’s findings have revealed that the average number of cases handled by intermediaries in the last 12 months is beginning to recover from the low in March (81) to 86 in May and 87 in June.

Almost two thirds (63%) of advisers’ cases in Q2 2020 stemmed from residential activity, of which 25% consisted of refinance activity (16% remortgage and 9% product transfers), 20% from movers and 19% from first time buyers.

While intermediaries saw an uptick in activity in the second quarter of 2020, many still cite that the pandemic is continuing to cause disruption.

In a sign of the impact of COVID-19 on product availability and the operational challenges facing the market as lenders battled to manage a backlog of applications, just 59% of offers resulted in a completion last quarter, compared to 79% in Q1 2020 and 85% in Q4 2019.

The number of DIPs being processed by intermediaries also fell from 24 in Q1 to just 17 in Q2 2020, along with every other stage of the application process.

Kate Davies, pictured, Executive Director of IMLA said:

“Despite a global pandemic and now recession, intermediaries are keeping confident and upbeat about the future of the mortgage market. In Q1, we saw a slight fall in confidence as advisers reacted to the initial impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

However, the housing market has clearly become a driving force behind the economy after the lockdown and this has kept intermediaries positive about the future.

Thousands of consumers are returning to the housing market after putting their plans on hold, while other buyers are looking to take advantage of the temporary Stamp Duty holiday.

This doesn’t mean that mortgage market is free from further challenges though. Lenders already faced a backlog of applications when the housing market reopened in May and this, combined with high levels of new demand from buyers is adding to operational pressures.

In some cases, applications are being delayed as lenders continue to adapt to the new normal, while supporting existing customers, in particular those who have come or are coming to the end of payment deferral periods.

With the Government’s furlough scheme set to end in October, it remains to be seen how many jobs will have been saved and what the shape of the economic recovery will be.

It’s too early to say whether the demand we are currently seeing in the mortgage market will last, but for the moment it is clearly keeping intermediaries busy and positive, as they work through a wave of applications from hopeful buyers.”

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