How do you sum up a year like 2020?
It seems like a moment ago that we first heard the news of a potential threat to the year that surely, like so many others before it would pass us by. This was 2020, a year of the future where fantasy became reality and we all pushed forward after a couple of hard years.
But in the blink of an eye, there we were locked down in the sunshine, with Mother Nature seemingly rewarding us for slowing down, clapping our NHS heroes, and simultaneously worrying about our livelihoods whilst feeling guilty that we actually quite liked spending more time at home with family we rarely saw.
I remember feeling emotional when Chancellor Sunak stood up and announced the most astonishing package of help and feeling proud when our industry had an extraordinary moment of we are all in this together. The calls from competitors, the support for lenders as they battled with an avalanche of calls from people looking to take a payment “holiday”, and the fact that we were all remembering that we could be kind to each other, to ourselves, to the planet.
This was surely a fundamental turning point in history, where work/life balance would forthwith always be in harmony and where the daily commute seemed like a thing consigned to the history books where future generations would look at pictures of crowded trains and laugh at the madness and futility of it all.
Then the housing market opened again, and a tsunami of pent-up demand exploded onto our desks, with the added need for people to move to places further out, to have space and home offices to take advantage of the new world.
Not only were things moving once more but onto this fire of sudden activity, the Government emptied a few cans of Kerosine in the form of a Stamp Duty Holiday.
Suddenly, no longer commuting meant for many people starting at the desk earlier and finishing later, with no proper breaks or meaningful holidays, work and home time seemed to merge in a cacophony of activity. We all started to get used to the new way of living, to new words like Furlough, learning to conjugate the verb “Zoom” and where the phrase, “You’re on mute” became our most uttered.
Those of us who were lucky enough to be able to, learned to work with dodgy internet, meetings disturbed by spouses, kids, dogs, and goodness knows what else, but we adapted and became more collaborative in distance.
Sport returned, and cautiously, we started to return to offices, to settle into some workable semblance of a new normal before the dreaded Lockdown 2, Tiering systems, and daily battering of news about infection rates, Track and Trace apps that didn’t work, politicians breaking their own rules, speculation on the numbers of unemployed and realising what we all probably knew from the start; we were in the hands of leaders hopelessly guessing.
The housing and mortgage market became as busy as it had ever been with record numbers of applications, but each one taking o much more work, time, and effort to caress through.
First-Time Buyers, the very people who needed the Stamp Duty assistance were seemingly shunned by lenders as they pulled out of high Loan-to-Value lending, whilst the self-employed were treated harshly and expected to jump through more hoops than a performing seal.
Whilst lenders struggled with capacity as the crux of their issues, there was no mistaking that risk had become a leading player in their decision-making process.
We then started noticing the effects of all of this on our mental health, how the absence of a few pints after work and someone to have a quiet chat with in person, plus the very fact of not being around other people started to cause issues. We had dealt with the stress of work, of having too little, of having too much, of seeing the same four walls, of endless emails and online meetings, of hanging on phones for hours on end, of being there for our clients clearly experiencing their own stresses and strains. On top of this were the obvious health worries a pandemic brings.
We then had a symbolic change – Trump. A change in Boris’s ranks also marked a change of tack and that 11th-hour deal is now more hopeful. The tantalising prospect of not one, but several possible vaccines is a definite light at the end of a very long tunnel.
Whilst our best wishes go out to everyone who cannot spend Christmas with their family this year, what we all need to do when looking back on the past twelve months is remember who was there for us, whether on Zoom, at the end of a phone or who went out of their way to help in any small way.
Most importantly, whatever happens next, we must make sure we learn from this period, and whilst next year may not be a walk in the park, for those of us who go into it with a positive attitude, a sense of determination, and a willingness to keep adapting it will stand us in good stead.
We have learned so much this year and at Coreco we never forget that we represent you, our clients and introducers first and foremost. It will always be that way.
Thank you all for your support this year, for choosing Coreco, and we wish you all a very Merry Christmas, happy holidays, a restful break, and a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.
In the words of William E. Vaughan, “An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.”
Coreco will always be the optimist.