Broker criteria searches in July provided strong indicators that the housing market is still being affected by the lockdown of the last three months, although there are increasing signs that the market is getting moving again. Covid-19 continues to feature prominently, with ‘Temporary Maximum LTV Restrictions’ once again in the top five searches across three of the seven categories.
The residential market continues to be dominated by Covid-19 as brokers search to maximise the amount their clients can borrow. As lenders return to the market, restrictions continue to be placed on LTVs, although these too are beginning to be lifted as a result of the steady progression the housing market is making.
A particularly noteworthy feature is the number of people searching for ‘Self-employed with one year’s accounts’. Many newly self-employed people missed out on being able to access the furlough scheme, and this search indicates that they may now be looking to access funds through their mortgage instead.
Searches for the Help to Buy equity loan scheme were in third place on the list. This provides further evidence that there are a growing number of buyers looking to take advantage of the scheme before it comes to a close on the recently extended end date of 28th February 2021.
In buy-to-let (BTL), brokers kept ‘Lending to Limited Companies’ in the top spot for the second month. The stamp duty holiday brought in this month could see this search stay in the top spot for a few more months yet, as it makes it a lot more cost-effective for landlords who haven’t yet done so to transfer their properties to a limited company, while saving up to £15,000 on stamp duty that they may otherwise have paid. Transferring to a limited company means landlords, especially higher-rate taxpayers, will benefit from favourable tax treatment of their rental income. This is particularly pertinent in light of recent tax changes.
A spike in searches for ‘Holiday Lets’ was also evident in the BTL market. This has undoubtedly been boosted by the introduction of the stamp duty holiday, and by coronavirus impacting consumer habits, making holiday homes increasingly desirable.
The equity release market showed the most change across all seven categories recorded by Knowledge Bank, with ‘Early Repayment Charges’ being the only consistent search in the top five results. With the housing landscape changing rapidly in the wake of coronavirus, this suggests home-owners do not wish to be tied into a deal for a long period of time.
The appearance of ‘Leasehold Remaining Term’ as one of the most popular searches in the equity release category is also a point of interest. Short lease durations are an increasing problem for many homeowners, along with escalating ground rents. Those looking to access funds through equity release with only a short term remaining on their lease, may not be able to raise as much as they had hoped. The recent Law Commission proposals around leasehold reform are clearly very timely and ought to be strongly welcomed by borrowers and lenders alike.
Matthew Corker, Lender Relationship Manager at Knowledge Bank, commented, “It is clear that the effects of Covid-19 are still hitting the mortgage market as they are likely to do for some time to come. More people are looking into holiday lets as the desire to travel abroad is falling among UK citizens while Covid-19 continues to impact the travel sector. I expect this to become a trend in the coming months as travel bans are enforced and air travel remains limited.
“Let’s not forget the stamp duty holiday will further encourage consumers to take the plunge. The beauty of holiday-lets is they also allow buyers themselves to benefit from a secondary location, something everyone in the UK likely wishes they had access to right now.
“Throughout June and July, we have seen indicators that the housing market is moving, and the stamp duty holiday is one of the sources that will provide the economy with the boost it needs.”