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Top 10 ways to improve your case quality

by: Peter Izard
  • 16/09/2013
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Top 10 ways to improve your case quality
As the mortgage market shows continuing signs of recovery Peter Izard, head of mortgages at Saffron For Intermediaries, has a few hints and tips to help ensure your applications have as smooth a passage as possible through to completion.

1) If in doubt, check it out
No one knows better than brokers that every clients’ circumstances are different and they don’t always neatly fit a lenders criteria.

If you’re unsure whether your client fits a lenders’ criteria, either check the lenders’ website or pick-up the phone and check it out with a BDM or lender help desk. It’s better to know at the outset if your client’s application is the round peg that won’t go through the square hole.

2) Computers don’t take a view
Make sure you understand how a lender underwrites applications – do they credit score or manually underwrite? If it’s credit scoring, then you need to ensure the application is a perfect fit with criteria; computers aren’t good at taking a view.

If the lender underwrites manually, don’t think this means underwriters can be persuaded to accept marginal applications. They still have criteria to follow and mandates to obey. Manual underwriting doesn’t mean a lender is going to be a soft touch.

3) Missed information means delays, guaranteed
It can be very tempting, if just one or two pieces of information are not available, to submit an application so that it’s at least underway.

Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. When applications arrive with a lender, they are checked for completeness and if anything is missing they go into a pending file and the broker is then chased for the required information.

Five minutes spent double-checking an application before submission will always be time well spent.

4) Paperless isn’t always a help
It can sometimes be surprisingly difficult for clients to produce the paperwork they should have readily to hand. For example, many consumers are electing to do away with old-fashioned paper statements from banks and utility companies.

This can make providing statements more of a chore – but they are still needed and it’s usually quite simple for clients to print a paper version.

5) Has everything been signed and paid for?
It’s so easily overlooked, but an unsigned application or direct debit mandate is easy to miss. It’s also important that if any fees are due, such as application and valuation fees, the payment is enclosed with the application.

6) Know your client
On occasions clients can be dishonest, but more frequently they are unsure and think it’s OK to take a guess. Neither of which is an acceptable outcome for lenders. If you feel the client doesn’t know the answer to the question then don’t let them guess – ask for the evidence. It may be tedious, but it will save time further down the line.

7) Know where they’re likely to go wrong
Sometimes clients get it wrong with the best of intentions. For example, the whole area of employment status – being a director, or self-employed or a sole trader – can cause genuine confusion.

If the borrower is categorised as being self-employed when in fact they’re not (and vice-versa) then a lender will start asking for the wrong type of supporting information.

8) Trust your instincts
As a broker, you’re dealing with clients day-in, day-out and you’ll have a pretty well developed instinct for a case that ‘feels right’. If your instincts tell you something isn’t right, then it’s probably because it’s not. Don’t ignore your gut-feel, probe a bit further to find out what’s making you uneasy.

9) Lenders can have bad days as well 
We all have bad days when things don’t go quite according to plan and the same applies to lenders just as much as it does to brokers. If a lender has a service hiccough give them the benefit of the doubt; it may just be a temporary blip and a situation which is quickly resolved.

10) Manage your clients’ expectations
Everyone wants a quick decision but not everyone needs a mortgage quickly. If clients have a realistic understanding of likely timescales from the outset, they are less likely to keep on hassling you for updates.

Do bear in mind that, as we approach the year end, lenders will be carefully managing their pipeline and if there’s a sudden increase in new business volumes it could result in longer turnaround times. It pays to plan ahead.

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