IMLA Set to Lend More

by Mark Johnston

The annual dinner held by the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association last year was an event in the calendar of all borrowers and lenders.  The members, after many months of indecision finally made a vote of confidence in the IML’s role and value.

When the members got together in 2008, right after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the mood was one of pending disaster and an uncertain future.  The most recent dinner saw the mood dramatically changed to one of optimism about the future and a positive outlook, if not a mark for how the industry will do in the future it at least gives an idea of how the market feels right now. 

There was, as there usually is, a meeting of the executive committee before the dinner where it turns out that there were some quite serious questions being asked.  Questions like, what the committee saw as the future for the IMLA?  What their focus should be and whether they should continue to focus on general intermediary lending or whether that should and needs to change.  Also, they asked whether there was any point to keeping the IMLA at all. 

Deputy Chairman of the IMLA, Tony Ward said that “The response, particularly from larger lenders, was whole-heartedly behind keeping IMLA true to its core and separate,” he went on to say that the members felt that one of the main benefits of the IMLA was that it provided a platform for a diverse sector of the population to meet, openly discuss issues and bounce ideas around. “The other thing that makes it different is that it’s run for and by its members,” says John Heron, managing director of Paragon and chairman of IMLA.

“We don’t have a big secretariat. Peter Williams, our executive director, helps us get the business of IMLA done but the agenda is set by the membership. The issues we wish to prioritise are those that the members wish to prioritise and that makes it unique.”

What also came out clearly was that the members, after three quite bad years, they wanted to move forward and put the credit crisis behind them and that the IMLA had a role to play still.  “We have spent the last two or three years beating ourselves up about the shortage of funding, the new world of regulation and how difficult things are going to be,” says Heron. “And as people often do when they’ve gone through a period of adversity they get to a point where they think they have had enough of that and want to move forward, building confidence around our industry. They want to talk about new business issues not old ones.”

The mood is positive, the markets place is responding, lending will increase, borrowing will cost less and interest rates will rise.  This, market experts are saying will happen, they will happen this year.

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