Borrowers reaped the spoils of record-low mortgage rates, courtesy of a low base rate and fierce competition amongst lenders, whilst brokers took a bigger slice of the mortgage market.
It was recently revealed intermediaries placed 67 per cent of the mortgage market during the second quarter, with an even higher percentage estimated for the third quarter. As a result, 2015 has also been a busy year for intermediary lenders like Accord.
The favourable lending environment has enabled us to offer some competitive mortgage rates this year, particularly for higher loan-to-value mortgages.
We have needed to remain sharper than ever at this end of the market as more lenders re-entered the 95 per cent LTV space this year, likely influenced by Help to Buy 2 coming to an end next year.
Having always been committed to providing higher LTV options to borrowers looking to get a foot onto the property ladder, we anticipate that competition amongst lenders will heighten even further next year, especially as the government has pledged to help more people to own their own homes.
Accord, like the industry as a whole, saw an unseasonal surge in remortgage activity during summer, which was perhaps spurred by a combination of low rates and the potential base rate rise.
Across the Yorkshire Building Society Group, of which Accord is part, we saw a 98 per cent year-on-year rise in remortgage activity for the six months to November. It will be interesting to see if this persists into the start of the new year, which is usually the more popular time to remortgage.
It has been a year of highs and lows for buy-to-let. Although it is yet to reach pre-credit crunch levels, the sector has grown dramatically, with gross lending in this market surpassing the £27bn mark by the end of the third quarter, which was the total lent on BTL in the previous year.
By the end of this year, it is estimated the sector will see a 30 per cent increase from 2014. This has provided a platform for property investors to expand their portfolios.
However, it is uncertain how long this pace of growth in BTL will continue. Landlords received a number of blows from government reforms and 2016 looks to be a more challenging year for the sector.
We are waiting to see whether there will be any regulation on the BTL coverage ratio, plus what the effect of the tax relief changes will have, particularly the potential impact on market growth and how the market will ensure there is still a place for smaller landlords.