Intermediary case volumes fell in Q4 but confidence in market outlook remained strong

03 February 2021

  • IMLA’s latest findings show the claimed volumes of mortgage cases handled by intermediaries fell in Q4, but advisers remain positive about the outlook for their businesses, the intermediary sector, and the wider mortgage market
  • IMLA recently identified the Stamp Duty holiday deadline on March 31st as the biggest short-term barrier to recovery. It has called on the Government to ease the impact of the hard-stop deadline by introducing more flexibility to avoid penalising borrowers who just miss the deadline.

The average number of mortgage cases handled by advisers fell from 90 between July and September to 78 in Q4, research from the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) found. However, the vast majority of advisers remained positive about the outlook for their businesses (96%), the intermediary sector (92%), and the wider mortgage market (85%).

IMLA’s latest findings closely mirror the results of its Q3 report, reflecting positive attitudes in the sector in the second half of 2020. However, activity levels and case completion rates do remain lower than their pre-crisis levels.

While overall case volumes fell, the business mix (the proportion of cases relating different mortgage types) remained broadly similar. Two thirds (66%) of cases handled by advisers were for residential mortgages, a further 26% related to buy-to-let customers, and a final 8% were specialist.

The average number of DIPs processed by advisers in Q4 (25) remained consistent with the findings in Q3 2020. There were more noticeable changes in the conversion rates seen in Q4 though, particularly when compared to earlier in the year.

While the conversion rate between DIPs and DIP-accepts in Q4 (81%) remained consistent with the three previous quarters (85% in Q1, 82% in Q2 and 80% in Q3), there was a much larger fall in the conversion of offers to completions. In 2019, the conversion rate never fell below an average of 84%, on a quarterly basis. In 2020, conversions from offers to completions peaked at 79% in Q1 and fell to 65% in the final three months of the year.

Kate Davies, Executive Director of the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association, comments

“While there are signs that the unprecedented demand we saw in summer and autumn 2020 was already starting to cool towards the end of the year, intermediaries clearly remain positive about the outlook for the mortgage market. Whilst the impending Stamp Duty deadline means that activity will remain high in the weeks ahead, there are clear signs that demand will continue beyond 31st March. Advisers are also recognising that 2021 is set to be a major year for the remortgage market too, presenting plenty of opportunity. And although the rollout of the vaccine programme also gives us all more confidence that the end of the Covid-19 crisis may be in sight, many borrowers’ and prospective borrowers’ financial circumstances may have changed significantly over the past year, meaning that many of them will benefit from the expert advice which mortgage intermediaries can offer.

“However, as we approach the final months of the Stamp Duty holiday, there will be added pressure on lenders, conveyancers and all involved in the transaction process as consumers race to beat the deadline. IMLA and AMI have jointly warned that consumers need to be prepared to meet the additional costs if they cannot complete by 31st March.”

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Nick Seymour, Rostrum
Tel: 07551 129 500

Notes to Editors

The IMLA Mortgage Market Tracker uses data from BVA BDRC’s Project Mercury. Findings for Q4, 2020 are based on 301 interviews with mortgage intermediaries, collected between October, November and December.

About IMLA

The Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) is the trade association that represents mortgage lenders who lend to UK consumers and businesses via the broker channel. Its membership of 43 banks, building societies and specialist lenders include 18 of the 20 largest UK mortgage lenders (measured by gross lending) and account for about 90% of mortgage lending (91.6% of balances and 92.8% of gross lending).

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