Building society posts record-breaking results for third year

Leeds Building Society has posted record-breaking annual results for the third year in a row.

It posted annual pre-tax profits of £181.5 million, the second highest in its history after last year’s £220.5m, and lent to 17,7600 first-time buyers, more than half of all its new mortgages, up from a third last year. Savings with the society grew to a record £2.7bn, up from £2.1bn in 2022.

Capital and reserves stand at £1.6 billion and liquidity levels continue above regulatory requirements.

Chief executive Richard Fearson said the pre-tax profits were the result of a record trading performance in a turbulent market for both savers and borrowers.. The society lent more than £4bn in residential mortgages and saw 157,000 new members join, bringing total memberships to an all-time high of 919,000.

“We concentrated our support on the needs of aspiring homeowners and helped nearly 18,000 first time buyers to get on the housing ladder,” he said. “We did this by launching innovative partnerships and products designed to help break down barriers which prevent home ownership, such as Experian Boost and Home Deposit Saver, and by continuing our market leading position in shared ownership mortgages.

“We also stood shoulder to shoulder with members already on the property ladder during a year which saw the Bank of England interest rate reach a 15-year high, helping when it really matters with support tailored to their individual circumstances. We were one of the first to sign up to the Mortgage Charter and the first lender to launch a simple, digital application process for those seeking help; we limited increases in our standard variable rate, and we did not charge arrears fees – and will not again during 2024.”

Today the society announced a deal with North Yorkshire and Norfolk Councils to stop new loans on holiday-let homes for a 12-month trial period beginning at the end of March. The society said this increased its support for first-time buyers by removing one of the obstacles to finding available and affordable homes. It said it had liaised with the councils as it sought to balance local housing needs and the economic benefits of tourism.

Fearson said, “In some areas holiday lets have grown to have a significant stranglehold on the pipeline of homes available for local people to live in. Our decision adds to the arsenal of options available to local authorities to balance local housing needs with economic benefits in a way which leaves power in the hands of the local authorities.

“We will learn through the trial how effective this measure can be in increasing the supply of residential homes and gain greater insight on steps that can make a positive difference.”