Knowledge Bank records ‘surprising results’ in February

Online broker searches in the equity release sector saw a significant shift during February, according to new data from Knowledge Bank, which said the month had thrown up ‘surprising results.’

The criteria search specialist recorded an all-new top five most popular searches for the equity release category during the month, the first time this had happened in over a year, which Knowledge Bank suggested demonstrates the speed with which change happens in the sector.

The most popular search was by brokers seeking the ‘minimum age at application’ that lenders would accept, while in second place was brokers searching for lenders offering an ‘equity release inheritance protection guarantee.’

Although this criteria had been often searched for in the past, Knowledge Bank said this was the first time it had broken into its top five.

“February really threw up some surprising results, most notably in the equity release sector where it was all change,” Knowledge Bank lender relationship manager, Matthew Corker, commented.

“The extent and speed of change in the criteria needs of borrowers from month to month shows just how essential it is for brokers and lenders to adapt to changing demands.”

The criteria search expert reported the residential sector offered a more balanced picture during February, with brokers looking for lenders offering the ‘maximum age at the end of the term’ proving to be the most popular search again in the category. New additions to this top five included the search for lenders allowing ‘joint borrowers for a sole proprietor,’ and a search on ‘income multiples for affordability assessment.’

Knowledge Bank’s data also showed two new additions in the most popular searches in the second charge loans category – which were for lenders allowing ‘CCJs registered in the past three years,’ and ‘existing secured loan or mortgage arrears or defaults.’ The criteria search specialist said the rise in searches for lenders allowing these criteria conditions suggested a worsening arrears picture within the secured loan sector.

Four of the top five searches in the buy-to-let category were consistent with the previous month, with the only new addition being for ‘first-time buyers,’ which Knowledge Bank called an encouraging sign that borrowers were still interested in buy-to-let as an investment opportunity.

Corker added: “We work with lenders every day to help them use this data to evaluate the market and adapt their criteria accordingly. Because criteria searches happen at the onset of the advice process, prior to any product sourcing, it presents lenders with a unique opportunity to adapt to a changing market and drives change and innovation.”

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