Jonathan Stinton is head of intermediary relationships at Coventry for intermediaries

The New Year is always a great time to assess what we’ve achieved in the mortgage market over the past 12 months, and the picture for 2021 has been largely positive. Despite an ongoing pandemic, lenders and brokers have kept busy since January, with the stamp duty holiday driving many buyers to step onto and up the housing ladder.

But with the New Year now fast approaching, we must also recognise what we need to achieve in 2022. With the tax holiday now over, a new coronavirus variant causing concern, and the challenge of climate change becoming ever greater, there is plenty that should be on the industry’s agenda for the next 12 months.

Green is the word

COP26 didn’t meet all expectations, but climate change has clearly become a growing concern for consumers in 2021. Nearly a third (32%) are now highly engaged with adopting a more sustainable lifestyle, according to Deloitte, so in 2022 it will be critical for the mortgage market to respond to growing demand from consumers for more sustainable practices.

There’s plenty we can do as lenders and brokers to strive for a greener market. Green mortgages are already starting to take off and lenders are launching more green schemes for customers.

This year, Coventry created the Green Together Reward, offering £500 to customers applying for a new mortgage or remortgaging who spend at least £2,500 making improvements aimed at boosting energy efficiency.

Intermediaries will need to consider becoming experts in this soon to be ‘new normal’ too. In 2022, we expect more customers to seek practical advice on green mortgages, so fostering strong relationships with lenders will help brokers to navigate this market and position themselves as experts with borrowers.

However, the UK has some of the least energy efficient housing in Europe, so change must be driven by government too. Action is already taking place, such as funding to push UK households to ditch gas boilers for low carbon alternatives, but it remains to be seen whether these measures go far and wide enough.

This year’s Budget was a missed opportunity to launch a new stamp duty incentive to make energy efficient homes cheaper to buy, for instance. More education for consumers, as well as improved support to help landlords bring the UK’s private rental stock up to standard, are also vital in 2022.

Decarbonisation is becoming one of the biggest challenges facing the housing market, so the government must ‘level up’ its support.

Helping first-time buyers

Rising house prices amid strong demand and limited housing stock in the market have made 2021 a tougher year for many first-time buyers. Data from the HomeOwners Alliance shows that 91% of those looking to take their first step think the ability to get onto the housing ladder is a serious problem.

In 2022, we need to see more affordable housing for these buyers and action from government to deliver on the promises to build the thousands of new homes these buyers need.

Continued support for first-time buyers in the form of housing schemes will also be important.

A sector for all

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is an area we must all give attention to in 2022. Recent studies by the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI) have found that more than half of female (54%), LGBTQ+ (56%) and ethnic minority (52%) respondents said they were not well represented at all levels of the mortgage industry.

As an industry, we must do better to ensure that all people, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or race are welcomed and championed in this sector.

At Coventry, we will develop and build on our own D&I initiatives launched this year, including our Diversity & Inclusion groups in every team and department, gender identity training for our customer-facing colleagues and our public commitment to increase the proportion of senior roles held by women to 40%, and the proportion of senior roles held by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic colleagues to 10%, both by 2025.

To drive the D&I agenda in 2022, we need more industry collaboration. Lenders and brokers together need to raise awareness with each other of the practical steps we can all take to make everyone feel at home in this market, and ensure we embed these processes within our organisations.

Recent industry figures still illustrate that demand is strong and it’s likely to remain a busy time for the mortgage market into 2022. That’s great news for both lenders and brokers, but we mustn’t lose sight of some of the key issues we must address in the months ahead.

From doing our part to tackle climate change to championing the D&I agenda and supporting the UK’s first-time buyers, now is the time for us all to think about how we can make a difference in 2022.