"Customers’ priorities when looking for both lenders and types of property have changed significantly over the course of 2020."
The past 12 months have changed perspectives, outlooks, relationships and demands. They have opened our eyes to new forms of working and made us explore more ways to better support our physical and mental health. In short, many things have been turned on their heads.
Imagine being told a few years ago that an entire football season would go ahead inform of empty stadiums. I realise this is not the most life-changing or defining fallout from the pandemic but sport is one of the many areas which can provide an often undervalued but nevertheless important function for people. And one where its true value is only realised once it has been taken away.
The lack of fans has certainly created a different dynamic in the Premier League. We have seen some uncharacteristic results, with some clubs and players adapting better than others. Longer-term effects on different types of sport remain to be seen and it’s clear that Covid-19 is also having a massive impact on a variety of industries, and businesses within them.
Focusing on the effects being felt across the mortgage market, research from Masthaven Bank found that the pandemic is reshaping demand from borrowers. The survey of 265 intermediaries found that customers’ priorities when looking for both lenders and types of property have changed significantly over the course of 2020. According to 79% of brokers, flexible lending criteria is now a bigger priority for customers than before the start of the pandemic. Other factors which have significantly increased in importance are customer service (63%), speed (60%) and flexible product features (55%).
The research also highlighted changing attitudes among customers when looking to move home. 57% of brokers reported that homebuyers are now prioritising bigger houses to allow space for home offices, with a third saying that their customers were prioritising a move out of a city to a quieter area. Close to a third of brokers (32%) said that more outdoor space was the priority for their customers.
As highlighted in the report, the fact that many people were forced to stay home for extended periods of time and adapt their houses into offices, gyms or schools has created a clearer perspective of what people really want from their home. Borrowers are also demonstrating a more certain view of what they want from lenders, and that is a more transparent and flexible approach.
These are also attributes that we look for in our lending partners. In a similar vein to the Premier League, the ‘big six’ are still largely dominant and will continue to capture our attention. However, emerging forces such as Leicester, Everton, Leeds, Aston Villa and even West Ham are making waves and it’s important to recognise the qualities they bring.
New entrants to the mortgage market, and some specialist lenders have really upped their game in recent months. Vital to their growth and success has been their choice of partners in terms of surveyors, tech firms and distribution. Looking forward, the value attached to these partnerships will continue to grow and a more cohesive approach across the board will certainly help ensure that the housing and mortgage markets maintain their positive momentum.