The office is tidied, shredding done, and I have written down my business objectives ready to discuss with Joe, who himself, is happily set up in his new home. No doubt his business objectives will make me wish I was 40 again when we have our discussion! So, what lays ahead?
It is my opinion that January and February will be quieter with enquiries. Having said that, we are still going to get calls about the possibility of completing before March 31st to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday. Lenders and conveyancers are warning the broking and buying fraternity that from now on that’s a real tough, and perhaps unlikely, call.
Potential customers keep calling me telling me their circumstance is different – “It will all be done by 15 March”, they say! Sadly, experience tells me this is unlikely. Searches can take 6 weeks, lenders are way slower than normal with staff still not at their stations. Conveyancers still cannot see over their home office desks for client files. Surveyors, quite understandably, work a very COVID-19 aware operation, which mean fewer/longer appointments. Nothing I have read suggests the Chancellor is going to turn March 31 to April 30.
Prediction 1: No stamp duty holiday extension.
Prediction 2: lenders will firefight this not with water hoses but by raising rates more or by withdrawing products all together.
A busy but slowing first two months of the year then brings us to March and hopefully the vaccine is starting to win the fight. It would be easy to write here that fresh impetus, pent up demand and bright horizons take over. Of course, there will be some blue clouds but interlaced with some real nasty black economic ones too. This means, more than ever, that the broking fraternity with long standing client banks will need to be on hand to look after their customers and guide them through choppy waters.
The second half of the year is going to be a period of readjustment. I am not sure the masks are coming off yet, but life should gradually readjust. Holidays, more shopping, and time with friends. Most of us do not ask for much when you come think of it.
We at House and Holiday Home Mortgages will continue to receive Holiday Let enquiries, many of which we will help the customers dreams become reality. But I sense lenders will not be queuing to help us and customers, whilst foreseeing lots of staycations, must be realistic and not expect residential rates on what are primarily commercial homes or deals. After all, someone buying a small hotel would not expect to borrow the money needed at a pip or two above base rate; a holiday let is little different, especially when you factor in allowances that accountants will tell their clients about.
Good brokers now more than ever will be ensuring their customers and client bank have the correct amount and right type of income protection and life cover. Life is really tough out there; don’t make it any harder by ignoring cover that can be bought for less money than you used to spend in a restaurant each month. An astonishing 5% of Christmas cards sent chez Stallard carried bad news about someone in the family. To put it bluntly, that is way higher than the current terrible Covid stats we see each day.
Personally, I look forward to helping more equity release customers this year, if only because in lots of cases family will want to help family.
Let’s finish on a good note! Most of us do what we do because we love it and are good at it! Whether you work for a lending bank, do surveys, carry out conveyancing, advise on pensions, specialize in equity release or sell houses; do more than you did last year and in many cases you will get more!
Thank you to our customers and support staff and may everyone have a bright, safe and much better year! You deserve it.
If my predictions work out poorly, then think of me as a good storyteller but a poor commentator but I tell it as I see it and I reckon most forecasters are not much cop! Send me £10 and I will send you my Grand National selection in a small brown envelope.