Brokers

Broker sentiment for 2024 improves after torrid 2023 – Mortgage Finance Gazette

Brokers are more optimistic for 2024 with 31% confident about the year ahead and fewer worried at 8% (26% and 15% respectively last year.)

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This is according to the latest annual survey from Crystal Specialist Finance of over 10,000 brokers across the UK.

The research reveals that the tough market conditions were clearly felt as only 22% of brokers surveyed agreed that 2023 was a good year for their business – down from 48% in 2022.  Some  77% told Crystal that business was the same or down on the previous year. Again, a significant increase from 53% in 2022.

Their key concerns for this year (at 74%) continue to be led by high interest rates and interest rate uncertainty. This figure is almost unchanged from last year when it was 76%.

The cost-of-living crisis is less of a concern at 64% (76% last year) and high inflation does not figure at all in the top challenges to business growth in 2024. High inflation was cited by 48% of responders in 2022 and so brokers clearly feel that the recent falls in inflation bode well for next year.

Brokers also feel that further Bank of England base rate rises are now behind us with only 17% believing it has further to go and 39% predicting a fall. (While over a third expect base rate to fall, over half of brokers polled thought the same thing this time last year!)

The data also revealed that most brokers diversified into new markets last year, in response to the cooling of the residential market. 35% moved into bridging, 28% buy to let and 26% commercial lending. This diversification looks set to continue in 2024, with 66% of brokers agreeing that they expect to diversify further this year.

The use of technology is also of increasing importance to brokers, to enhance the speed of processing for their cases, with almost three quarters using digital case management to submit their deals.

And with this year being a general election year, we asked brokers which party they see forming the next government. Intermediaries are predicting a landslide victory for Labour at 73%.

Commenting on the findings Crystal managing director Jo Breeden said: “2023 should have been the return to some form of normality to the market. Instead, we saw  continuous Bank of England base rate rises to counter higher than forecast inflation and a consequent cooling of the property market”.

He added: “While the wider residential housing market has further to fall as we start 2024, brokers are more confident about the outlook. 2024 presents opportunities for the resilient broker that is prepared to venture into new markets – such as bridging, commercial finance and complex buy to let.”

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