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-David Hanley, Landlord
Mortgage brokers in the UK more confident, survey finds

Mortgage brokers in the UK have become increasingly confident about the overall outlook for the lending market, according to the latest Halifax intermediaries survey.

It found that 75% percent of brokers were encouraged and more confident about the mortgage market coming into the New Year, an increase of 6% compared with the previous quarter.

Continuing the upward trend of the previous two quarters, brokers are increasingly more confident about the intermediary sector, with an increase of 3% more brokers citing greater confidence in the industry, compared to the previous month.

Many signalled increasing lower rates as a result of the funding for lending scheme as the main driver of the increase in overall confidence in the intermediary sector. 'It is encouraging to see increasing confidence in the sector over the last quarter. Whilst the economic outlook remains challenging, we are seeing a slight easing of funding pressures, leading to an increasing number of lenders reducing rates and launching new products to the market, providing further optimism,' said Ian Wilson, head of Halifax Intermediaries.

The number of brokers confident in the performance of their own business/firm dipped slightly with a 2% quarterly decrease but there was a greater proportion of brokers who reported being very confident. The more competitive rates being offered through 2012 saw the average number of cases being written per individual broker in the preceding 12 months, to 70.25, up from 64.25 in 2011. In terms of the type of business being conducted, brokers are reporting that in the final quarter cases from home movers and first time buyers remained consistent, with volumes down this quarter for remortgage and buy to let applications. Overall, brokers reported an increase in the volume of specialist buy to let lending and remortgage activity last year, up 17% and 1% respectively, compared to 2011.

New helpline launched in UK to combat property fraud


Specially trained staff are available to speak to worried home owners and offer practical advice about what to do.

Properties most vulnerable to registration or mortgage fraud are usually empty, tenanted or mortgage free, the land registry said.

Individuals at a higher risk of fraud include owners who do not live in the property because they live abroad, buy to let landlords, owners in long term hospital or residential care or where a relationship has broken down.

Examples of property
fraud include situations where a buy to let landlord gets a call from a local estate agent saying that one of his rental properties seems to be being marketed for sale or where a relative learns the property has been 'stolen' by a fraudster impersonating the deceased proprietor.

'Fraud affects all parts of today's society and everyone in it, costing the UK an estimated £38 billion each year. Government has a zero tolerance to fraud against the public purse but in order to fight fraud, everyone needs to work together. The need for everyone to play their part is just as relevant in the fight against property fraud as in other contexts,' said Alasdair Lewis, director of legal services at the Land Registry.

He explained that the organisation's award winning Counter Fraud Unit works closely with the police and other agencies to reduce the risk of property fraud.

'Since September, our measures have prevented fraud valued at £52 million but with an average indemnity payout of some £150,000, fraud is still a fundamental risk to our business,' he added.

Additionally, as part of its commitment to a range of counter fraud measures, the Land Registry's trial of a free restriction for absent owners is being continued. Around 5,000 properties have been protected in this way since the trial began in February.

Designed to help prevent forgery, the restriction requires a solicitor or conveyancer to certify they are satisfied that the person selling or mortgaging the property is the true owner. There is no Land Registry fee for home owners who wish to register this restriction as long as they do not live in the property. Owner occupiers pay a small fee.