It’s not about the facts, it’s all about perception – Reflection on TMEvent2011

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The Mortgage Event 2011 – Bristol

It’s always quite satisfying when an event takes place sufficiently close to home that it’s possible to walk to it. So it was yesterday morning, when I chose to walk 45 mins in the wind and the cold (rather than battle traffic, and parking charges) to go this years Mortgage Event conference.

The key note speech from Grenville Turner CEO of Countrywide Group was possibly better than expected. It’s true that Grenville stated that there are plenty of reasons to be down-hearted, but he also managed to squeeze in some good news too .. As most people in the industry, and externally, are already acutely aware we’ve been (& continue to battle) through the worst recession and contraction of markets that we’re ever likely to see.

Reasons to be cheerful:
“The remortgage market is beginning to come back and our expectation is that it will continue to grow”
“The majority of mortgage applications are still submitted via intermediaries”
“Share of intermediary market will grow next year because lenders know how key that business is to them”

Further good news is that, if you’re still in the game, then it’s likely that you’re one of the more knowledgeable, and professional advisers that were around 3-4 years ago. Possibly there’s been a need to modify the ‘business model’ during the last few years, or maybe you were just doing your job well and employing good working practices in the first place! … I owe a great deal of thanks to my old boss who, though i didn’t always appreciate it at the time, managed to instill some working techniques, approaches, and skills that are (at the very least) responsible for getting me this far. Thanks Darren :-)

Looking ahead to 2012 the economic outlook seems to be less than optimistic. Based on what we heard in the Keynote Address, and from others including (@Aldermoreman) Charles Haresnape the expected level of lending next year will be similar to 2011. As MD of a lender that launched only 12 months ago, he was able to offer an insight into opportunities / niche markets that were identified, and which are now being capitalised upon. The lesson … Keep your head up, there are still still reasons to smile!

Matt Smith, MD of WPB (Brand & Marketing) talked about the importance of using Social Media “growth in a world where growth is rare” but possibly an area that is still sidelined or ignored by many IFA / Mortgage Advisor firms … For me, the question is ‘can you teach an old dog new tricks?’ (that remark is not intended to cause offence to anyone!!) There are many firms that have not embraced new technology, and rely to a degree on doing what they’ve always done. Many companies, mine included, are fortunate enough to have a number of clients that provide much of the work that we do. This can be either direct, or by acting as advocates and referring friends / family / colleagues.

The speech from Matt, whilst interesting and fact-packed, was the latest of several that I’ve heard during the past few years. Whilst I confess that it’s not an area that i’ve been able to really study and understand fully, I first ventured into using Social Media a few years ago with a company FB page, and began using twitter in summer last year. I don’t find 100’s of clients beating a path to my door, but on the other hand; (a) I’m not aware of anyone that’s been driven away either (b) More people know of my existence than would otherwise have been the case (c) I’m always (more than) happy to share my thoughts with the wider world.

I’ve sat through a number of speeches / presentations offered by the FSA, and for the most part (whilst educational) these are not a fun experience. Congratulations to Emma Peplow, and to her colleague Andy, who offered a thought provoking insight into regulatory changes both in the UK and in Europe during the next few years .. To offer an engaging, and relatively upbeat, speech for 25 mins on ‘regulatory change’ is quite some achievement.

The presentation from Paula John (Mortgage Solutions) was the inspiration for the title of this note. “Where have all the First Time Buyers Gone?” was the question, and the answer is nowhere! Many are caught in a ‘rental trap’ unable to save for a deposit whilst they pay increasing rents. The average, ever increasing, age of a FTB is now 37-40! Some believe that there’s no chance of buying a house, because the media are fond of sharing the (often inaccurate view) that a huge deposit is always required in order to buy your first house … There are lenders out there that offer 90, 95, and even 100% mortgages. We have not returned to 2007, and products at 95-100% are not as straight forward as they once were, but they do exist! The best way to find out if you can benefit from one is to contact a good Mortgage Advisor. If you don’t have one, then is where you can find more details about my company and what I do.

Finally there was the panel debate, with figures from Barclays (Trading as Woolwich) Nationwide / The Mortgage Works, and MAB. The consensus seems to be that Bank of England is unlikely to increase base rate for 18-24 months … My concern is that possible house-buyers, or remortgages, will concentrate only on this and not the bigger picture. When a lender brings new products to the market, it is far more concerned with SWAP and LIBOR rates. The interest rates that are offered are much more closely connected to these markets, and as rates continue to rise we can only expect that mortgage products offered will get more expensive. Either interest rates will increase, or arrangement fees, or a combination of the two. If you’ve been toying with the idea of a remortgage, but have not yet acted, then it’s worth giving your mortgage advisor a call or (as above) get in touch via

If you have any questions regarding your mortgage or protection requirements; or about the ‘house buying process’, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


Article was originally posted elsewhere ( 2011-12-08– 11:54:26) Content remains relevant, which is why I have added it here. Tips based on observations made both whilst working inside estate agency offices, assisting clients to purchase, and of course purchasing properties myself.