When Chancellor Rishi Sunak stood up in parliament to increase the stamp duty threshold to £500,000 until March next year, he intended to wake the UK’s property market from its slumber.
The Covid-19 pandemic put any plans people had for moving on hold. In the middle of April, our data shows mortgage applications dropped to a fifth of the levels recorded in the week before the country went into lockdown. Only now are the number of applications
returning to pre-lockdown levels and, in time, there is good reason to believe this will translate to exchanging contracts and removals vans.
Lifting the stamp duty threshold above the value of millions of properties should continue this momentum. But the supply of and demand for properties, influenced by the tax people pay, is only one part of the equation. Lenders need to have confidence that
the loans they are advancing are affordable for borrowers and will be repaid.
Lenders routinely ask prospective borrowers how much income they have coming into their household, before weighing it against their outgoings to understand if a mortgage is affordable. For many people, it’s a question of checking their annual salary. Covid-19
has complicated the situation.
Income and outgoings over the last few months have changed for millions of people. We know many took a pay cut when they went on furlough, while more recent statistics show tens of thousands of others have now lost their jobs. On the other side of the coin,
there will be those whose finances have improved by not spending on holidays or their commute, or in cafes, bars and restaurants.
Lenders have always used data from the credit bureau to understand people’s ability to manage their monthly payments. If they have a history of missed payments, then it suggests they are not a good risk at this time or certainly require a closer look.
However, circumstances have changed quickly, and there are large numbers of people who are now returning to work and seeing their income and expenditure levels approach previous levels as our lives edge back to ‘normal’. Data is key for lenders to understand
the difference between temporary bumps in the road and more long-lasting changes.
Open Banking offers a trusted source of data for lenders to see how and when money arrives and leaves people’s bank accounts. Analysing 12 months of data will give them the perspective on customers who have experienced a temporary change of circumstances
but are now returning to pre-Covid numbers.
The Chancellor has provided the impetus for people to revisit their plans moving home. Now it’s data’s turn to help lenders fulfil these dreams by giving them the confidence to say ‘yes’.