UK residential mortgage market becoming too restrictive, study suggests

Taylor Scott International News

Renewed optimism in the UK mortgage industry for growth in 2015 is being overshadowed by the view that the market has become too conservative, it is claimed. Post financial crisis regulation is hampering the market and brokers are reporting difficulties in meeting customer needs, according to the latest research from the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association. While optimism is returning some 84% of brokers were unable to help at least one customer in the last six months, up from 78% in July 2014, the report points out. Products for the self-employed or those seeking to borrow into retirement are among those in short supply and people with low incomes or dependents have been most affected by reduced access to finance. Overall 74% of brokers took the view that market conditions are worsening, which is backed by 65% of lenders. It comes despite improving sentiment towards market conditions following a period of changes to lending criteria. IMLA’s previous research in July 2014 found 45% of brokers and 33% of lenders reporting that market conditions were worsening. This followed the implementation of the Mortgage Market Review (MMR) in April and with new macro-prudential controls on the horizon. Their pessimism has since softened with just 23% of brokers and 21% of lenders feeling the same way in January 2015. Some 51% of brokers, up from 41% in July, and 53% of lenders, up from 44% in July, now feel market conditions are currently improving. However, IMLA’s research reveals 84% of brokers were unable to source a mortgage for at least one client during the last six months, up from 78% who said the same in July 2014. A breakdown of the figures shows that 53% of brokers were unable to help a client with adverse credit, 53% were unable to help an interest-only borrower, 50% were unable to help a customer seeking to borrow into retirement and 46% were unable to help a client who was self-employed or had an irregular income. Overall, brokers and lenders both identify low income borrowers and those with dependents as the two consumer groups who have been most impacted by reduced access to finance following the MMR. Among the new rules, interest rate stress tests are seen to have had the biggest effect in reducing the amount people can borrow. More brokers and lenders report that the new rules are having an impact than was the case in July. Some 39% of brokers feel product availability has increased following the MMR, while just 18% feel it has reduced. Yet opinion is more evenly split on product flexibility with 27% of brokers feeling this has improved but 23% that it has not. ‘Regulation is vital to ensure that mortgage lending is safe and in proportion to consumer needs and the wider economy. But when families with dependents are among those who find themselves at a disadvantage, there are legitimate concerns that the pendulum has swung too far as a result of successive, incremental measures,’ said… Continue reading →

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