Twenty7Tec: June search volumes overtake pre-lockdown levels
In June, 63.8% of all searches (749,423 actual searches) were for purchases, compared to 47.53% in May, while remortgage searches dropped from 52.47% (425,236 actual searches) to 36.19%, having held the majority through most of lockdown.
First-time buyer (FTB) searches also rose from 13.07% of the total number to 18.91%.
Phil Bailey, group sales director at Twenty7Tec, said: “In June, we saw over one million searches for the first time since lockdown began.
“The year’s prior highs were in January and February – it may sound obvious, but the market was flying then.
“Now June has overtaken those months for mortgage search activity, with the highest volumes across all stamp duty bands this year.
“Mortgage searches are up a minimum of 60% for properties of all prices.
“Remortgages were almost the only game in town during lockdown, at one point representing 75% of the total mortgage searches.
“The year-to-date graph shows us how much the pendulum swung towards remortgages, and how much it has swung back since.
“Purchase searches are now ahead of long-term averages.
“June saw 63.8% of all searches being for purchase – against a long-term average of around 55-60%.
“Cautiously, we’d ask if it has now plateaued at the end of June?”
Demand rose across all categories in June, including let-to-buy (up 127.91%) shared ownership (96.48%) standard residential (78.05%), and shared equity or Help to Buy (79.65%).
In terms of property value, the biggest jump in demand was seen in the £150,000 to £249,999 and under £150,000 categories (76.25% and 74.32%, respectively).
Product numbers have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels and meet the surge in demand, however, particularly at higher loan-to-value ratios (LTVs).
Whereas June saw 1,277 products available at 75% LTV, this dropped to 250 products at 90% LTV, and 115 at 95% LTV.
As at June 2020, there were 9,900 product available on Twenty7tec’s system.
Of these, 5,971 were residential, 3,376 were BTL, 250 were secured loans and 161 were equity release.
Niki Cooke, head of intermediary at Twenty7Tec, said: “Mortgage search volumes have had a V-shaped recovery – having rebounded significantly over recent weeks.
“However, the level of documents prepared are only just now getting back to pre-lockdown highs.
“We should see documents reach those highs in the next few days.
“At the end of June, documentation volumes – where demand hopefully meets supply – are just below their January and February peaks.
“This means that currently there’s demand in the market that’s not being satisfied by the products available.
“We believe that this gap is in no small part down to the lenders’ attitudes to short and medium term default risk, operational capacity and house price uncertainty.”
Cooke added: “Only 2.5% of products available are in the 90 to 95% LTV range, whereas, 16.4% of all searches are here.
“This is going to prove tempting to some lenders who are willing to take a risk.
“Perhaps it will be late summer when the furlough schemes are withdrawn and a clearer economic picture becomes available, but it will happen.”
Nathan Reilly, head of lender relationships at Twenty7Tec, added: “Something has to give – most likely a higher rate for [90%+ LTV] borrowers or increased competition as other areas of the market become saturated.”
Reilly continued: “June was all about the return of the first-time buyer.
“In the lows of lockdown, we saw lows of 6.58% of FTB mortgage searches.
“They’d been priced or de-risked out of the market as lenders sought to adjust their risk proles and products to match.
“Now, they are back with something of a vengeance, which is essential for a fully functioning housing market and a housing-sector-led recovery.”