“As 2022 progresses, we appear to be entering another phase for the sector as we move past the bottoms that have dominated the market for so long.”
Data shows that the mortgage market saw a strong return in terms of prices and transaction levels during the pandemic, evidenced by a 66% annual growth in overall searches through the end of 2021.
Amid the stamp duty rush, searches for first-time buyers are up 64% compared to 2021.
The stamp duty holiday, combined with the savings some have accumulated during the UK’s various lockdowns, has attracted considerable interest in the market from first-time buyers. According to the SmartrCriteria tool, “first time buyers” were the third most searched criteria point in 2020; a trend that continued into the next year, when the term ranked fourth.
The tax break also attracted interest from overseas buyers, with visa borrower searches dominating 2020 and 2021 as the most searched criteria item.
The rise in staycation means vacation rental searches are up 25% in 2021. Two summers of restrictions on outbound holidays resulted in significant demand for staycation properties as many chose to holiday in the UK rather than travel abroad. SmartrCriteria data shows that “vacation rentals” was the third most searched term among consultants in 2020, compared to 2019 when it didn’t even appear in the top 10.
The appetite for these properties continued into last year, with vacation rental searches up 25% in 2021, despite the search term falling to the eighth most popular spot.
Clare Beardmore, Head of Broker and Propositions at L&G Mortgage Club said: “To mark the third anniversary of the SmartrCriteria tool, the data provided shows how much the market has changed in recent years. The ongoing impact of the pandemic has been undeniable, reshaping the types of property buyers are looking for and sparking a series of government initiatives that have resulted in a spike in market activity and property prices.
“As 2022 progresses, we appear to be entering another phase for the sector as we emerge from the bottoms that have dominated the market for so long. As we face further potential rate hikes, many homeowners and potential buyers have seen their household finances take a hit as high energy prices and rising inflation push the cost of living soaring. SmartrCriteria data from December 2021 has already shown an 8% increase in searches for “payday loans” and there is likely to be further financial pressure on borrowers.
“While we await our January 2022 data, we can preview what this new year may bring. Current affordability pressures and uncertainty about future interest rates may shift borrowers’ preferences toward the convenience of a longer-term fixed-rate product or drive the search for interest-rate mortgages that minimize monthly expenses. However, as we look back at the profound changes that have taken place over the past three years, it is difficult to make a confident prediction about what may lie ahead for the remainder of 2022.”