Platform’s account manager for intermediaries in the South, Adrian Foote welcomed guests and thanked brokers for their support, while debate chair and Mortgage Solutions features editor Owain Thomas asked guests about the issues currently affecting business.
It didn’t take long for participants to turn to a recent story by Mortgage Solutions, whereby Persimmon admitted to withholding incentives to buyers if they didn’t use an adviser recommended by the builder.
Brokers at the event reported incidents of other developers putting similar restrictions on buyers when they haven’t used their preferred adviser.
One broker at the round table discussion told of a case last year where a client had turned to him because the builder’s broker was struggling to get a mortgage offer.
The participant said: “The recommended adviser couldn’t obtain the mortgage – they were trying to place the mortgage with a prime lender, but [the client] had a couple of missed payments on the credit card.
“I emailed the client with a recommendation, illustration, waited for the documents.
“The client innocently took the email to the developer, that then got passed to the recommended adviser.
“[The builder] said you’re not having your £6,000 worth of incentives.”
Most attendees at the Supper Club thought developers were wrong to remove perks for buyers who did not use their recommended broker.
However, there was some division over whether builders should have a preferred panel at all, as well as the standards of adviser partners versus the wider market.
One participant said: “Some of the brokers that are linked to a lot of the developers are not good enough… I have picked up several clients that have been messed around by brokers that first-time buyers have been forced to use.”
But some participants disagreed.
It was suggested that builders were justified to use preferred advisers, because some brokers in the wider market don’t properly understand New Build or Help to Buy.
One participant said: “The reason developers do ask people to be qualified by their broker is because there are a lot of bad brokers out there…
“New build, it’s not specialist but there are a lot of brokers who, actually, don’t know what they’re doing with it.”
Another added: “It’s true, there are brokers who don’t know what they’re doing.”
Help To Buy
Participants broadly agreed new build is helping to drive activity in the buoyant property market in Bristol and the surrounding area.
However, participants expressed some concerns for borrowers who appear to be stuck within the government-backed Help To Buy Scheme equity loan scheme and will soon start to repay their debt.
One participant said: “For me the risk areas are people who were maybe capping at 4.5 times income when they bought the property.
“They were in jobs where their income was never going to rise.
“The house price, yes, has gone up, but they’re not in a position to necessarily borrow much more because they’re stuck on a 35-year mortgage, they’ve not paid much off the mortgage, and they can’t borrow much more to clear the equity loan.”
Another participant added: “We’ve got a number of clients coming up for renewal on the Help To Buy and exactly the same situation – their income hasn’t gone up that much.
“So they’re still stuck within the Help To Buy system and they can’t get out of it.
“We all know new build can take time to go up in value and they might have gone up a little bit but they’re not going up as much as a lot of resale properties.”
The Supper Club also discussed the changing role of technology in the industry.
Some participants felt digital developments were making the broker’s job easier and helping to eliminate admin such as repeat keying in of information.
One broker said: “I think one of the biggest technology changes we’ve seen is just how much quicker the whole process is getting from application to offer with automatic valuations and documents being checked electronically….
“It’s really important for me and the customers, because the quicker I get the offer out, the happier they are.”
Another participant added: “Auto-income verification has been huge for us… We’re getting offers that we would normally get in a week to two weeks in three or four days.”
Brokers also discussed the different sourcing systems, with a number of different preferences.
It was suggested the best sourcing system may depend on the experience of an adviser.
One participant said: “I’ve got some people who have loved the detailed system but they’re probably lower volume advisers, who aren’t so rushed off their feet to do cases and have got time to re-key stuff.
“I’ve then got my really busy adviser who just bounces through Trigold… because they’re experienced, they know who is going to do what.”
Participants were divided by the prospect of lenders integrating their API with certain sourcing systems, with some thinking it’s “great” for advisers, while other said it’s “terrible”.
One broker said: “We would just be able to transact with more clients so for us it would be great; to be able to press a button, go into a sourcing system and then put it through, great..”
But one participant said: “I think that’s one step away from robo advice.
“I think it’s a bad thing, a wrong thing.
“You go to an adviser for advice; you go for experience.
“You don’t go for clicking buttons.”
End of the bridge toll
Finally, participants turned to the big topic in the area: The toll on the Severn Bridge connecting end Bristol to Wales is to be scrapped at the end of the year.
And the prospect is helping to open up the Welsh property market to people in the local area, according to the Supper Club.
One participant: “I’ve never had so many enquiries from that side.
“It’s mainly HMOs because it must be the yield there.”
Another broker agreed: “We’ve got quite a lot of clients who are portfolio landlords that are going over the bridge now from Bristol because actually you can buy a three-bed, four-bed detached house for £200,000 and actually can rent it out for pretty similar to what the rental is over here now…yields are just massive.”
A huge thank you to our sponsors Platform and all the guests on the night. (see below)
Daniel White, White Financial Services
Miles Robinson, One 77 Mortgages
Luke Jackson, Andrews Property Group
Julia Roberts, Andrews Property Group
Duncan Bell, Chartwell Funding
Adam Wells, Fox Davidson
Pete Lloyd, Fox Davidson
Platform – sponsors
Adrian Foote, Platform
Jamie Cullen, Platform
Tabitha Botham, Platform
Owain Thomas – chair