SPECIAL FEATURE: All I want for Christmas...

1. A mild winter rather than a bleak one

After the St Jude storm in October and the major storm that struck much of the country earlier this month, I’d ask Santa to keep the Arctic winds and Atlantic storms from our shores to encourage insurers to sharpen their pencils and deliver keener pricing on household insurance premiums next year. While the economy seems to be on the way up, many pay packets remain frozen and homeowners are still counting every penny. Competitive home insurance premiums will certainly make the lives of intermediaries easier when it comes to selling and renewing household insurance for their clients.

2. More new entrants to the mortgage market

As I write, United Trust Bank has just announced that it is considering launching a second charge mortgage range. This is another positive step for the secured loan market going into 2014. There are also rumours of more new lenders in the buy-to-let and bridging markets. The more lenders there are in the market the better as this can only encourage competition which in turn can only help intermediaries get the best deal for their clients. So Santa, please encourage more new entrants to the market in the New Year.

3. Sensible regulation

With second charge loans coming under the control of the FCA from April next year, industry experts believe that brokers giving advice on secured loans will need to become CeMAP qualified. The cost of regulation to brokers and intermediaries in the mortgage and general insurance sectors has soared over the past few years. And it’s not just a question of the fees paid. The simple day-to-day job of keeping on top of the mounds of regulation takes a huge amount of man hours. I don’t dispute the fact that regulation is necessary but I would ask Santa to help the FCA ensure that it is proportionate and effective.

4. Low interest rates

While savers out there won’t thank me, I’d ask Santa to keep the Bank of England on its current path of maintaining interest rates at rock bottom levels. The recovery is still shaky and it certainly won’t do the mortgage market any favours to push interest rates up. We need to encourage the confidence we’re seeing amongst first time and returning buyers to maintain the growth we’ve experienced over recent months in the market.

5. Strong demand for Help to Buy

With the Government’s Funding for Lending scheme coming to an end in the residential market, the second phase of the Help to Buy scheme has taken on greater importance. I believe it promises a more buoyant market in 2014 but any help from Santa would be more than welcome!

On behalf of the team at The Source, may I wish you all a very merry Christmas and we look forward to supporting you in what should be a very positive New Year!