the year in focus: a look back at 2022
It has been a rollercoaster of a year by any standards with three different prime ministers, four Chancellors of the Exchequer, two monarchs and the conflict in Ukraine. The rising cost of living, in particular fuel and energy prices, plus several Bank of England interest rate rises, means the economic picture is very different as we come to the end of 2022 than it was at the start of the year.
the housing market
The housing market remained remarkably resilient for the first three quarters of the year, with annual house price growth in double digits (10 to 14.3 per cent in the first eight months of the year, according to Nationwide building society) and activity levels remaining at or above pre-Covid levels. Between January and August, the average UK house price increased by almost £20,000 from £255,556 to £273,751, putting recent monthly price falls in the fourth quarter into perspective.
Unfortunately, the turbulence which followed the Kwasi Kwarteng mini-Budget in September, was a major shock for the housing market. The unfunded tax cuts proposed by the Chancellor sent Swap rates soaring and fixed-rate mortgage pricing along with it. Borrowers, long used to rock-bottom interest rates, have had the painful task of trying to adjust to higher rates and transactions slumped as a result. Those sub-1 per cent two- and five-year fixes seen in the autumn of 2021 are long gone. The good news is that while we need to get used to higher borrowing rates, financial market conditions have settled with long-term interest rates returning to the levels available before the mini-Budget. Fixed-rate pricing has continued to settle back down, with five-year fixes back below 4.5 per cent.
another busy year for MT Finance
As far as MT Finance is concerned, it has been a busy and productive year. We launched our much-anticipated Buy to Let offering in July, headed up by Marylen Edwards and supported by a forward flow agreement with JP Morgan. Following the success of our regulated bridging offering, which we launched in 2020, we have high hopes for our Buy to Let proposition.
We were also on the move, needing more space to house our ever-growing team. We relocated to our new office at The Broadgate Tower on the edge of London’s financial district, where we hosted a welcome party for staff and key industry partners as we caught up and enjoyed the spectacular view. We also completed the sale of a minority stake to an American investment company, an important milestone for MT Finance which will serve us well in coming years as we continue to achieve our objectives of being an ESG-focused, multi-solution, financial institution.
We are grateful to have continued to win numerous awards, which we never take for granted, and thank everyone who took the time to vote for us. First off were two wins at the Crystal Ball Awards for Product of the Year for our regulated bridging, as well as the highly-coveted Bridging Lender of the Year. We followed this up in April as we were named Best Bridging Finance Provider at the Business Moneyfacts Awards. In July, we were named Bridging Lender of the Year at the SFI Awards. We won our seventh B&C award for ‘Service Excellence of the Year’, while Gareth Lewis was awarded the accolade ‘Business Leader – Bridging Lender’ at the British Specialist Lending Awards.
While we have been busy looking after clients and introducers, we remain aware how important it is to give something back and continued with our charitable fundraising, with £4,010 raised for Prevent Breast Cancer at Aston Villa’s Villa Park stadium in June where we hosted a series of football matches comprised of teams made up from our friends in the industry.
As 2022 comes to a close and we look forward to a new year, we are very excited as to what’s in store for MT Finance as we continue to expand our regulated bridging and buy-to-let offering. We will be here, as always, to provide reliable, speedy and cost-effective solutions for clients and introducers. Until then, we wish everyone a very happy and restful break.