One million buyers since the credit crunch

One million households have become first-time buyers since the credit crunch, accounting for 1 in 10 of all current mortgage holders, despite relatively subdued market conditions, according to CML Chairman Martijn Van der Heijden. Speaking this week at the Council of Mortgage Lenders' annual conference, Van der Heijden told delegates that in spite of the increase in some Standard Variable Rates, the average interest rate being charged to existing mortgage customers has been lower than a year earlier for a full 12 months, and that lending for property purchase is likely to be some 15% higher this year than the CML originally forecast. "As lenders, I think we can safely say that we are very much open for business," he said. Mr Van der Heijden emphasised that the industry self-evaluation - involving interviews with a range of lenders - demonstrated that “we are, most emphatically, an industry that is capable of self-reflection and self-improvement.” He observed: “We know - pretty much - what regulation is going to look like. We can be equally certain that at some point it will change. It always does. We cannot rely on regulation as the bedrock on which we build our businesses of the future. But it will be the constant backdrop. "We know - pretty much - that the UK housing psyche, while a bit bruised, still holds homeownership extremely dear. At the same time, people know that it is more difficult to achieve than it used to be, and that renting is likely to be a tenure in which most new households will spend at least some time. "And we know - pretty much - that we have further work to do to develop a relationship of trust with our existing borrowers and with the borrowers of the future, many of whom - rightly or wrongly - see us as the cause of problems rather than the providers of solutions. "All these three things that we know point us in a single direction - to show our customers that they are genuinely at the heart of our businesses." In terms of specific ideas that emerged from the work, the CML Chairman pointed particularly to the development of a long-term mindset; a potential move towards greater product simplicity; more certain delivery of high quality advice and sales to support high quality business; responsible innovation; and building a capability to lend for housing across the spectrum, not just for home-ownership. He concluded that building a successful market requires the lending industry to hold itself to account, and to exercise restraint when necessary, adding: “We are capable of acknowledging the market weaknesses that caused us problems, as well as capable of knowing what a good market looks like. And we are ready to move on, to build that successful market of the future.”

Article courtesy of Property Investor Today
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