Announcing mid-year results, Leeds Building Society’s CEO Richard Fearon said he is optimistic about the mortgage market following a rebound in demand in June.
Fearon said he was pleased with the society’s lending performance in the first half of the year as it maintained support for customers including first-time buyers and Shared Ownership which continued through the lockdown.
Although the slowdown and suspension of the housing market and wider economy caused by the pandemic had led to a “material drop in lending volumes”, Fearon was encouraged by the corresponding recovery in June as consumer demand rebounded strongly. In fact the society enjoyed its best-ever month for Shared Ownership with new lending higher than in June 2019.
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He remains optimistic about the resilience of the housing market and the positive impact expected to follow the Government’s stamp duty announcement. The society’s IT investment is proceeding to plan, with a phased launch of the new Mortgage Hub platform over the coming months making the application process smoother and easier from start to finish.
Fearon said the society remained focused on safely maintaining service for members and intermediaries during the first half of the year. He said he was both “proud and humbled” by his colleagues’ professional response to the pandemic and their dedication to the service of the mutual’s members, such as the swift creation of mortgage payment holiday capability for borrowers facing financial difficulty, a process since automated, extended and improved, helping some 26,000 customers.
“When I reported our 2019 results in February for my first full year as CEO, none of us could have imagined how soon we would feel the personal, national and global impacts of coronavirus,” he said.
“The response from our colleagues has made me feel both proud and humbled as they’ve stepped up to continue serving our members diligently and look after, and out for, each other.”
He added: “Leeds Building Society has weathered many external shocks in its long history but in terms of scale and speed the current pandemic – and the challenges it’s created for individuals, businesses and our communities – has no precedent in recent times.
“Colleagues have shown the values which underpin us as a mutual, that when we work together we can succeed against what may feel overwhelming or unachievable, to ensure we carry on helping people to save and have the home they want.”