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Mon October 26 2020

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Redrow chairman slams mortgage market

4 Nov 10 Redrow chairman Steve Morgan has launched a broadside against the mortgage market, criticising lenders' reluctance to agree terms with people who should “easily qualify”.

Morgan said that, despite scaremongering about the housing market in the media, there were “hundreds of thousands” of people wanting to buy their first home.

He warned that regulators risked making an already bad situation worse, and with only six lenders covering over 90% of the market, there was not enough mortgage availablity.

Despite the industry frustration with the lack of mortgages, Morgan said Redrow is “in good health”, in a trading update.

Like for like private home sales in the financial year to date are 9% up on the same period last year at £133m, which has been achieved on 6% fewer reservations.

The average price of private reservations to date is £174,000, 16% ahead of the same period last year.

Redrow has net debt of £58m giving a 13% gearing, and is “well placed to pursue the right opportunities in the land market”, said Morgan.

The firm is concentrating on buying smaller sites in prime locations, and since the beginning of the financial year, it has acquired around 800 plots over 9 sites. Its land bank stands at 13,000 plots, representing over 5 years supply.

Redrow has been boosted by the shift in product mix to its New Heritage Collection of family homes, which are being sold from half of its 78 developments.

“The return to our traditional values via the New Heritage Collection is proving to be a great success for the business,” said Morgan. “Our frustration is that due to the current mortgage crisis we are not able to grow the business faster.

“In recent months there has been much scaremongering in the media about the state of the housing market. Although the market has undoubtedly been affected by the current economic climate, underlying demand remains strong as there are tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people wanting to buy their first home.

“Private sector rents are rising as first time buyers are being stifled by the chronic shortage and affordability of mortgages. Most people are left with little choice but to go into the private rented sector or live with their parents.

“Every week we are forced to turn away potential purchasers simply because they do not have a deposit of 25% or more; people with excellent jobs who under normal circumstances would easily qualify for a mortgage.

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“For generations 95% mortgages have been the norm. Indeed the vast majority of existing home owners started out buying their first home with a mortgage of this size.

“Yet the current generation of first time buyers are being denied the opportunity that their parents and grandparents took for granted, simply because they are unable to secure an affordable mortgage with a modest deposit.

“As a direct consequence of this worsening mortgage famine, the average age of an unassisted first time buyer is now 37 and rising rapidly.

“The demand for new homes remains strong, but with only six lenders now covering over 90% of the lending market, the mortgages to meet that demand are not available. In the last three years the number of mortgage products available to buyers with deposits of 5% or less has fallen from 1,224 to just 33.

“The situation could get a whole lot worse if the FSA's proposed changes in its Mortgage Market Review come to fruition.”

Morgan argued that the case for resolving the mortgage crisis was “compelling” as “we cannot have a buoyant UK economy without a healthy housing market”.

“Each new home creates around six jobs, both directly and indirectly,” he said. “Building an extra 100,000 new homes per annum to meet the country's desperate needs will create around 600,000 new British jobs and all the tax revenues that go with it.

“The Coalition Government has stated publicly that it is committed to an increase in the construction of much needed new homes and we strongly welcome that commitment.

“However this will simply not happen without an adequate and fairly priced supply of mortgages. At the very time when the country is in a housing crisis, the house building industry is working at little over 50% of the output of just a few years ago.

“Our message to the Government is simple: the regulators are going too far and the medicine risks killing the patient. Deliberately suppressing housing demand at the very time that the country has a chronic housing shortage is laying the foundations for the next boom/bust cycle.

“The way to end the cycle of boom and bust is to increase the supply of new homes to meet the demand by freeing up the supply of affordable mortgages.” 

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