This Christmas marks 35 year since I started working in the Financial Services sector. In that time the material world has changed greatly but people’s hopes, needs and wants haven’t. Owning your own home is as a desire which transcends generations, a milestone achievement for most and something to be celebrated.
Recently I was asked to pen my thoughts on how the year has played out for My Home Move, the housing market and home movers. Alongside this I offer my thoughts on what the next 12 months will hold. I am no oracle, but I hope with three decade of experience under my belt I can read the signs pretty well – however, as always, please share your thoughts and join the conversation.
What do you think the biggest challenge of 2017 has been for My Home Move?
The continuing impact of Brexit, the snap election and the subsequent softening of the housing market. The uncertainty that these events brought was a difficult challenge for many businesses, and like all industries we felt the impact. However, My Home Move has a robust and durable distribution base and long term strategy, which helped us to overcome the challenge.
How do you think My Home Move has overcome this challenge?
We are blessed with exceptionally talented people across all areas of our business. This allows us to flex the strategy and our operational base. We have also built a diverse distribution channel which includes tapping into new and emerging markets such as remortgages, New Build and ‘Lending into Retirement’. This has been my main focus in 2017, and we have made significant strides forward in all of these areas, winning new distribution opportunities.
What do you think the biggest challenge of 2017 has been for the property industry?
The biggest challenge has been the ongoing shortage of affordable properties for first time buyers and for the market as a whole. Affordability mortgage-wise has also a huge issue. The Government at last appears to be developing a cohesive housing strategy, with the pledge to build c300,000 new homes per annum at the core of this. This will open up huge opportunities for My Home Move and because of the hard work we have put in over the past 18 months with creating and cementing our Specialist New Build business, we will be ideally placed to maximise on these opportunities. I am extremely optimistic about this part of our business and excited to see it grow to be a substantial volume player in the years to come.
How do you think the industry has overcome/responded to this challenge?
The housing and mortgage market is extremely resilient and robust, and rides the waves of uncertainty well. Government figures show that 218,000 new homes will have entered the market in 2017, so there has been a substantial uplift already. Lenders will now need to become ever more inventive to solve the affordability problem, and it is essential that there is a Help to Buy type of scheme in place beyond when this one is due to expire in 2021.
In terms of your professional growth – what lesson have you learnt during 2017?
The ability to execute a strategic plan and take people on the journey with me. I specifically targeted the remortgage, New Build and ‘Lending into Retirement’ markets in 2016 because I expected them all to offer My Home Move significant new opportunities for growth outside of our core markets. It worked and I am pleased to report that we now have a very solid base on which build in each of these markets. I also started a mentoring schedule that saw me mentor a number of our people in 2017. Again this has worked in terms of me offering guidance and advice, and the programme will continue in to 2018.
Thinking forward to 2018 –
What do you think the biggest challenge for the business/industry will be in 2018?
To execute on the plan to build 300,000 new homes in what will be a very soft and challenging housing market (due to continuing political uncertainty).
What challenges do you envisage for home movers in 2018?
Finding a suitable property and mortgage that they can afford according to the complex affordability rules that lenders now have to use.
If you could change a single aspect of the housing market what would it be?
Getting First-Time Buyers on to the housing ladder and this includes my own children who will be looking to do so in 2018 and 2019.