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2023 likely to start with a lending ‘bang’

I’m writing this on the Friday before Christmas and hopefully you are either winding down, or have already switched on the ‘Out of Office’ email and are looking forward to spending time with friends and family over the next week or so.

It has been an incredibly busy, perhaps even exhausting year, for conveyancing firms and their employees, and to that end, I hope you are able to take that much-needed break, to completely relax, step away from the daily grind, and recharge those batteries for what is to come in 2023.

Judging by what we do know, I think it’s fair to say that next year is likely to begin with something of a bang. Certainly, from what we’re hearing from lenders, many have significantly higher targets to hit in 2023, albeit against a backdrop where many commentators/trade bodies, etc are anticipating purchase transactions to be (perhaps significantly) down on what was achieved during 2022.

I looked recently at a couple of industry predictions in this area and UK Finance are anticipating purchase lending will fall from £171bn this year to £131bn next, while IMLA are slightly more optimistic anticipating a fall from £188bn to £165bn next.

There is however a consensus that a fall is imminent however at the same time, an expectation that remortgage business will not just hold up but will improve on this year’s figures.

Against that backdrop, it might seem difficult for all lenders to run at the same levels they did in 2022 but – as we know – this doesn’t mean that targets will be lessened. Far from it, and therefore January is expected to herald a huge amount of product price and criteria changes, as lenders seek to hit the ground running, fill pipelines and start making a dent on those yearly lending ambitions.

After the turmoil of early Autumn, we’ve clearly seen a far greater degree of stability in the mortgage market and even with the Bank of England raising Base Rate again this month, product rates have continued to fall along with the swap rates that so many lenders access for their funding.

It looks likely that product rates will continue to come down given the highly competitive nature of the lending market, and this may well mean that those would-be purchasers who have been waiting to see if they could meet the affordability requirements, might have a better chance of doing so in 2023. Plus, of course the huge amount of regular remortgage business that is transacted each and every month as borrowers come off their previous deals.

Lenders play such a pivotal role in our sector and it was clear from our recent meetings that members want us as their trade body to facilitate greater levels of lender engagement in order to not just improve relationships but to improve the process, particularly when it comes to the resource expended in terms of ongoing communication between conveyancers and lenders.

That will be a major focus for the CA in the year ahead and we already have a session planned with lenders at next year’s Annual Conference, plus we are looking at training workshops focused on this area.

On that note, we are in the process of finalising our timetable of meetings in 2023 but just to say in advance of that being done, we will be looking at holding many more workshops for members across a number of topics. We know that these have always gone down well with firms and staff, so again it’s our intention to ramp up the number of these throughout the next 12 months.

Which just leaves me to say that everyone at the CA is looking forward to the new year and continuing to work together with, and on behalf of, all our members to further those aims and ambitions and to ensure your voice is heard in all quarters of our industry.

Have a fantastic Christmas and New Year and we’ll see you all in 2023.

Nicky Heathcote is Non-Executive Chair at the Conveyancing Association (CA)


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