"February really threw up some surprising results, most notably in the equity release sector where it was all change."
Knowledge Bank says its February criteria index has thrown up a "number of surprise results" with some sectors experiencing unprecedented change.
The equity release sector saw an all-new top five - the first time this has happened in over 12 months. The most popular search was by brokers seeking the minimum age of the applicant the lenders would accept. In close second was brokers searching for lenders offering an equity release inheritance protection guarantee. Although this criteria has been often searched for in the past, this is the first time it has broken into the top five.
The residential sector offers a slightly more balanced picture with brokers looking for lenders offering the maximum age at the end of the term once again the most popular search in this category. New additions to the top five this month include the search for lenders allowing joint borrowers for a sole proprietor and a search on income multiples for affordability assessment.
Second charge loans saw two new additions to their most popular searches in February. These were for lenders allowing CCJs registered in the past three years and existing secured loan or mortgage arrears or defaults. The rise in searches for lenders allowing these criteria conditions suggests a worsening arrears picture within the secured loan sector.
It was a far more settled picture in the buy-to-let category with four of the top five searches consistent with the previous month. The new addition to the most popular searches in this search was for first-time buyers.
Development finance featured in the bridging category for the first time since November 2019, with Knowledge Bank saying this "may be a sub-set of this sector to watch".
Matthew Corker, lender relationship manager at Knowledge Bank, said: “February really threw up some surprising results, most notably in the equity release sector where it was all change. The extent and speed of change in the criteria needs of borrowers from month to month shows just how essential it is for brokers and lenders to adapt to changing demands.
"We work with lenders every day to help them use this data to evaluate the market and adapt their criteria accordingly. Because criteria searches happen at the onset of the advice process, prior to any product sourcing, it presents lenders with a unique opportunity to adapt to a changing market and drives change and innovation.”