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The COVID-19 mortgage payment holidays introduced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak took top spot during March 2020 as the most searched for term among brokers within the context of residential mortgages, according to lending database Knowledge Bank.

Beyond the payment holiday, residential mortgage search terms continued as normal in March, with ‘maximum age at end of term’, ‘interest only’ and ‘self employed – one years accounts’ making up the rest of the top four.

Fifth on the list is ‘defaults – registered in the last three years’, which Knowledge Bank reports is likely to rise in the coming months.

For the buy-to-let market, ‘COVID-19 mortgage payment holidays’ was second on the list, but ‘lending to limited companies’ remained top for the third month running.

For second charges, brokers were most likely to search for the maximum loan-to-value ratio (LTV) or minimum loan amount, the latter arguably showing the increasing need to release cash during the current crisis.

The rest of the top five search terms related to second charges were ‘mortgage or secured loan arrears or defaults’, ‘debt management plan – ongoing/current’ and ‘internal/automated valuation model (AVM)/desktop valuations’.

The last option is a new entry, but one that is expected to appear across all categories as the lockdown continues to interrupt in-person valuations.

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In the equity release market, the top five search terms were ‘early repayment charges’, ‘partial repayments’, ‘property with an annex/outbuilding/land/acreage’, ‘tenants in common acceptable’ and ‘second home/property’.

Fluctuations in this category are likely the result of fewer brokers searching for equity release.

Searches relating to bridging loans and commercial lending were not particularly disrupted; the top search terms here were ‘regulated bridging’ and ‘semi-commercial properties’, respectively, and both categories had ‘maximum LTV’ in second place.

However, these categories are expected to change significantly over the coming month, as many in these sectors are now unable to lend.

In addition to monitoring the most popular search terms, Knowledge Bank has established a ‘COVID-19 criteria live feed’.

This registered almost 500 changes to criteria among 14 lenders within just 48 hours last week.

Nicola Firth, founder and CEO at Knowledge Bank, said: “With the number of lender criteria changes increasing by the day there has never been a more important time to have subscription to a criteria search engine.

“As the UK’s largest and most comprehensive mortgage criteria search system, the industry looks to us to provide up-to-date and accurate information on lending policy.

“At this time of change it is important to reflect the issues and the searches that brokers are carrying out as it reflects on the market as a whole.

“The number of broker registrations and searches has increased exponentially over the past three weeks and the a peek into those searches provides us with a fascinating insight.

“April will clearly be even more revealing as the broker searches could change more dramatically than anything we have seen to date.”

By Jessica Bird

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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