Average number of mortgage cases fell in Q4

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However, the vast majority of advisers remained positive about the outlook for their businesses

The average number of mortgage cases handled by advisers fell from 90 between July and September to 78 in Q4, research from the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) shows.

However, the vast majority of advisers remained positive about the outlook for their businesses (96%), the intermediary sector (92%), and the wider mortgage market (85%).

IMLA’s latest findings closely mirror the results of its Q3 report, reflecting positive attitudes in the sector in the second half of 2020. However, activity levels and case completion rates do remain lower than their pre-crisis levels.

While overall case volumes fell, the business mix remained broadly similar. Two thirds (66%) of cases handled by advisers were for residential mortgages, a further 26% related to buy-to-let customers, and a final 8% were specialist.

The average number of DIPs processed by advisers in Q4 (25) remained consistent with the findings in Q3 2020. There were more noticeable changes in the conversion rates seen in Q4 though, particularly when compared to earlier in the year.

While the conversion rate between DIPs and DIP-accepts in Q4 (81%) remained consistent with the three previous quarters (85% in Q1, 82% in Q2 and 80% in Q3), there was a much larger fall in the conversion of offers to completions. In 2019, the conversion rate never fell below an average of 84%, on a quarterly basis. In 2020, conversions from offers to completions peaked at 79% in Q1 and fell to 65% in the final three months of the year.

Kate Davies, executive director of IMLA, commented: While there are signs that the unprecedented demand we saw in summer and autumn 2020 was already starting to cool towards the end of the year, intermediaries clearly remain positive about the outlook for the mortgage market.

Davies said, whilst the impending stamp duty deadline means that activity will remain high in the weeks ahead, there are clear signs that demand will continue beyond 31st March. Advisers are also recognising that 2021 is set to be a major year for the remortgage market too, presenting plenty of opportunity.

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