General Election 2024: What does the mortgage industry think?

Experts share what they want from the winning political party

General Election 2024: What does the mortgage industry think?

Just over half way into the political parties’ General Election campaigns and their manifesto promises are being closely scrutinised.

For the mortgage industry, of course, pledges on housing, the economy, and legislation governing property purchases and the financial services sector are key to the July 4 vote.

Those who hold senior positions in the industry arguably have a good idea of what makes an effective leader - and they have a keen eye for detail too. So, Mortgage Introducer asked these high flying professionals for their take on what the next government should address.

Liam O’Hara (pictured left) is interim head of mortgages at first direct, which provides a range of personal banking products and mobile banking, online and telephone services to over 1.7 million customers.  Like many in the industry, he is concerned about the challenges facing those keen to purchase their own properties.

“We know that home ownership is just not as accessible for new generations as it was a couple of decades ago,” said O’Hara. “We see government initiatives - designed to help this bridge the gap and support first-time buyers with getting on the ladder - as a positive. We encourage innovation within the industry as long as it’s centred around customer needs, with a considered evaluation of risk.”

How crucial is the private rented sector?

Damian Thompson (pictured second from left), director of landlord, at specialist BTL lender The Mortgage Works, emphasised that the private rented sector is crucial for the economy by providing homes to those who can’t or would not prefer to own their own home.

“We need a comprehensive plan that covers all types of housing including private renting,” Thompson said, “because the current piecemeal approach means we lack a clear pathway to tackle the range of complexities faced by not just landlords and renters but also owner occupiers.

“We believe a cohesive strategy for all tenures will enable government to be better placed to implement policies that lead to more homes becoming available, help landlords offer long-term tenancies as well as support other economic activities. That is why we’d like to see a future government take a period of time for consultation with the sector.”

Chris Fairfax (pictured second from right), CEO of Catalyst Property Finance, shared his assessment of what the majority party come the morning of July 5 needs to do during its upcoming time in office.

“Three points really stick out to me,” he explained. “The first is making big changes to the planning system through privatisation, the second is introducing stamp duty relief, and finally making changes to buy-to-let affordability stress testing, created in a low interest rate environment that are relevant to current conditions.”

Meanwhile, Nick Leeming (pictured right), chairman of estate agents Jackson Stops, wants a measured approach to business.

“The market has a strong track record of navigating external headwinds, but what buyers and sellers need now from politicians is stability,” he noted. “Knee jerk reactions or pendulum swinging policies that aren’t properly thought through risk creating uncertainty. For now, lifestyle factors and short supply will likely endure as the driving forces to keep transactions pressing ahead at full steam.”

Highlighting the expertise of brokers is important to Paul Glynn, CEO of later life lending platform, Air. He believes that the world of politics has a part to play in encouraging a new generation into the profession.

“Politicians should promote the need for customers to speak to advisers – and that’s an issue that matters irrespective of party politics,” he said. “Any government that takes office should think about supporting initiatives that will make financial services more attractive for people to start their careers in the industry.

“The more advisers we have, the more customers we can serve. There’s also the issue of an ageing talent pool. Quite frankly, we are not replacing retiring advice professionals at the rate that we need. To solve the problem, the government could fund apprenticeships and grants to support people through the necessary exams and training courses.”

Read more: Air Group revamps senior leadership team

What needs to be done to address a housing shortfall?

Gareth Morgan, director of broker firm Prime Financial Solutions and Mortgages, considers that there needs to be a firm commitment to building more houses.

“We are acutely aware of the housing shortfall, which in turn is putting upward pressures on property values and rents,” he stated. “Having an actionable plan to address this area and have a net increase in housing would not just help the mortgage industry but the wider economy.”

Global factors could impact efforts to support the industry, in the view of Jason Berry, group sales director of Crystal Specialist Finance.

“With so many legacy events and the ongoing challenges in the Middle East and Ukraine, it really is difficult for politicians to influence our sector positively,” he reasoned.

“When you also consider wages are forecast to increase up to six per cent despite zero productivity growth, and inflation is at around four per cent against a target of two per cent, I can’t see many sweeteners coming our way. However, huge demand - most notably in the private rental sector – should still mean there are opportunities for brokers.”

The campaigning may have been going on for what feel like an eternity, but it won’t be long before we know who’s triumphed… the votes will be counted in just over two-and-a-half weeks.