"The surge we’ve experienced as a result of pent-up demand being released may even out to more typical levels."
We spoke to Moray Hulme, director of mortgage sales at Paragon Bank, about why demand for buy-to-let remains strong and what trends he expects to see during the remainder of 2020.
FR: How has Paragon fared throughout the pandemic?
It almost goes without saying that it has been challenging but that is to be expected because, to use what has become a cliché, these are unprecedented times. There will always be things that test us and it’s how you respond that is important.
I’ve been extremely impressed with how we’ve responded to the pandemic. We managed to get almost our entire workforce working from home very quickly, which meant that our service levels weren’t impacted and we could continue to support customers and brokers. We have remained consistently in the market, lending throughout the pandemic and have had staff at the end of the phone to assist where necessary.
I’m really grateful for all of the hard work that has gone on behind the scenes to make this possible. In addition, I want to thank intermediaries and our other partners who have also adapted and worked with us to continue lending.
FR: What are you seeing from your customers? Is there demand for buy-to-let currently?
Yes, we’re seeing healthy demand at the moment as landlords look to meet growing demand from tenants. Lockdown has provided us with a renewed sense of how important our homes are and some people are re-assessing what they want and need from their living space. Although things are far from back to normal, an element of certainty does feel like it is slowly returning. This brings some confidence which translates to demand.
Landlords are spotting opportunities to add property that complements their portfolios. The Stamp Duty holiday has not created a buying free-for-all, instead landlords are making targeted, considered purchases.
FR: What do you expect to see during the remainder of the year?
Making any sort of prediction this year is difficult because there are so many variable factors at play. However, I think we will continue to see market activity continue to rise, although the surge we’ve experienced as a result of pent-up demand being released may even out to more typical levels.
It will be interesting to see how the market will be affected by events that are yet to play out; the need to quarantine following trips to Spain and some other popular tourist destinations may lead to further demand in holiday lets for example, whilst we may see an increase in purchase activity as the end of the Stamp Duty holiday approaches. Plus, the end of the various Government support schemes is yet to play out.
There are lots of variables so, again, the industry needs to be ready to adapt. I think we’ve already learned a lot so are well placed to do so.
FR: If you could see one headline about financial services in 2020, what would it be?
Some say that if you think positively, positive things will happen so I’m going to go for: ‘Financial services plays pivotal role in helping UK economy bounce back’.