Intermediaries most optimistic about buy-to-let

23 February 2012

An Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) survey has revealed that intermediaries are optimistic about the buy-to-let market in 2012 but remain cautious about lending levels overall.

IMLA, the industry body for lenders who market their products primarily through intermediaries, carried out the survey at the end of Q4 2011. During the quarter the proportion of business by borrower type was reported as 29% remortgages, 28% buy-to-let, 22% next-time buyers, 12% first-time buyers and 5% other business. On average, intermediaries deal with 12 applications a month.

In the next quarter, intermediaries are most optimistic about buy-to-let with 56% expecting to see an increase in this business type, followed by remortgages 47% and next-time buyers 34%. Only 12% of intermediaries expect to see a decline in buy-to-let business. In addition, 81% of intermediaries believe that the buy-to-let market in 2012 will be the same or larger than in 2011 with a significant majority, 66% believing we will see material growth.

First-time buyer business is the area intermediaries are least optimistic about with 22% expecting to see a decline, followed by next-time buyers 15%. Only 30% of intermediaries expect to see an increase in first-time buyer business. Remortgages are the area they expect to be most robust with just 5% of intermediaries expecting a decline.

When asked about market conditions most intermediaries remain cautious with 40% expecting conditions to remain the same and almost as many thinking they will get worse (33%) as those who think things will improve (27%). This said the balance of intermediaries (73%) feel that volumes will either be the same or higher in 2012, compared to those who expect a decline (27%).

Commenting on the findings, John Heron, IMLA Chairman said: “Intermediaries are right to be cautious about their expectations for 2012; whilst we are seeing growth in the mortgage market it is a gradual process. Buy-to-let is becoming increasingly important as more people move into the private rented sector. For landlords, an intermediary can provide invaluable support during the process of
finding the right mortgage and right mortgage lender for their needs. The same is of course true of the market in general, intermediaries are best placed to find a solution for borrowers who return empty handed from a trawl across the high street lenders. The benefits to the consumer of professional mortgage advice are not always rated highly enough and need to be better communicated.”

Intermediary views on the economy in 2012 were also cautious. They do not expect base rates to increase in 2012 – 70% expect no change at all, they expect sluggish economic growth but not a recession (GDP at 0.82%) and inflation to come down but remain higher than target. On house prices they expect no real movement and their forecast for gross mortgage lending for the year ahead was £132.7 billion.

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