Intermediaries remain confident in business outlooks, IMLA says

Mortgage intermediaries are remaining confident in their own business outlooks following the first quarter of 2020, according to new research published by the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA).

The association’s findings come despite a fall in intermediary confidence about the wider mortgage market in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In its latest Mortgage Market Tracker, based on 300 interviews with mortgage intermediaries between January and March 2020, IMLA said that the long-term outlook for the mortgage market looks “more stable”, with pent-up demand for housing set to return as lockdown measures ease.

IMLA suggested January had seen intermediary businesses report higher levels of confidence in the mortgage market’s prospects following the December General Election, but that this confidence reached a peak in February before declining in March, following the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdown measures.

By March, IMLA’s research showed that close to half of mortgage intermediaries (47%) were not feeling confident in the mortgage industry, while almost four in 10 (38%) were not feeling confident in the intermediary sector. Respondents suggested that business slowdown, the inability to carry out physical viewings and valuations during lockdown, as well as staff shortages at lenders and other firms were the key reasons for this.

IMLA executive director, Kate Davies, commented: “It’s no real surprise that the coronavirus lockdown and effective closure of the purchase market led to a decline in intermediary confidence in March. And the market’s future remains highly uncertain in the short-term.

“However, 2020 started on an optimistic note and there is every reason to believe the mortgage market will return to strength in the long-term. There are homeowners still looking to move and first-timers hoping to buy. The pent-up demand we saw earlier this year could return and lead to a surge in business when life begins to settle post-lockdown.

“In the meantime, mortgage intermediaries have adapted well in response to the crisis. We have seen a rise in the adoption of digital tools such as video calls to deliver advice and platforms to enable remote working, for example, while brokers also shifted their focus under lockdown to remortgage and product transfer activity.”

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