This is not to construct a stick to beat lenders with but instead to highlight opportunities to improve the process to reduce the time between offer and funds release.
One would also presume some read-across for mortgage advisers from the survey given the experience that you also have with lenders.
I suspect that along with some incredibly positive feedback for certain lenders, we should all have the opportunity to outline any potential service level issues.
Better information upfront
With transaction times apparently getting longer by the month there must surely be a real incentive for lenders to channel more resource into the offer to funds release stage rather than their historic fixation on application to offer timescales.
A mortgage offer is no good to anyone if it does not contain sufficient accurate information for the conveyancer to provide a clear certificate of title.
As an example, we are regularly told that legacy computer systems mean mortgage offer templates cannot be changed to accommodate useful information from the application such as a gifted deposit. This results in a post-offer query from the conveyancer.
To get around this, we have proposed a standardised Donor Confirmation Form so the conveyancer can collect the information much earlier knowing that it will be sufficient for the lender to approve.
Quality of communication
There were a number of key themes to come out of the 2019 survey and, again perhaps understandably, many of the issues raised might be filed under the category ‘ease and quality of communication’, especially once that initial contact has been established.
A number of lenders scored particularly highly on this scale, specifically in terms of cutting back on waiting times for conveyancers to get through to certain mortgage centres.
The fact that there is a high level of satisfaction with a number of lenders does show such issues can be cracked and others might do well to follow the example of those, such as Nationwide and Santander, who come out of the survey well.
Having strong communication channels and dealing with conveyancers in a timely fashion, really begins at the initial contact.
Lenders who perform well here then also score well in maintaining that good impression when it comes to response times post-offer and their consistency in responding to post-offer queries.
Access decision makers
Another area which might chime with advisers was whether lenders’ call centre staff are adequately trained and empowered enough to respond to conveyancer’s queries.
We would like to see more access to decision makers such as underwriters, and dedicated channels to get through to them, rather than navigating lengthy automated phone systems.
Of course, a lender can only make a decision when they have all the facts and we have recommended that a standardised Post-Offer Query Referral Form would ensure conveyancers were providing the information in the right way for the post-offer teams to respond swiftly and decisively.
It is noticeable that the lender who scored highest had already adopted this approach some months before the survey.
Deliver better relations
In terms of receiving clarity when it came to mortgage instructions, the scores were pretty high, and a similar positivity about following up on registrations.
Other suggested improvements included the role of the valuer, while conveyancers would clearly like to see greater standardisation of mortgage offer documentation.
While standardisation has to be approached with care, there could be some easy wins for lenders and conveyancers here.
On the UK Finance Handbook some respondents simply said there were too many complaints to list. A review is long overdue here and we have already begun discussions with UK Finance on this.
Overall, we have some very positive feedback for lenders along with tangible suggestions and solutions to improve the process and deliver better relationships for all sides.