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‘Lenders should be applauded and not berated’ – Lea Karasavvas

by: Lea Karasavvas, managing director of Prolific Mortgage Finance
  • 03/04/2020
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‘Lenders should be applauded and not berated’ – Lea Karasavvas
There have been a great many hits to the mortgage industry over the last few weeks, particularly in the last week, but positives have already started to emerge.


For example, one of the leading lenders and trend setters of the market, Halifax, has already enhanced its offering by returning to the market with higher loan to value options, having withdrawn all products above 60 per cent loan to value (LTV) last week.

In a matter of days we have seen one of the largest lenders of the industry take stock, evaluate its position and come back stronger with products up to 80 per cent LTV. This is a huge vote of confidence and one that will encourage other lenders to do the same.

We’ve seen Accord adjust its processes to allow for automated valuations up to 75 per cent LTV on purchases and 85 per cent LTV on remortgages.

HSBC continues to work hard on automated valuations at higher levels as does Santander. Metro has held on to lending at 80 per cent LTV and introduced digital valuations; all this while dealing with record levels of payment holidays.

Skipton Building Society has re-entered the market up to 75 per cent after a temporary withdrawal of all products last week.

It needs to be understood these are unprecedented changes. Our lenders may be withdrawing product ranges and making headlines, but let us not lose track of the fact that they are swiftly re-entering the market with sensible, viable solutions and doing so at an exceptional pace.

They are hugely understaffed, due to sickness and unusual working conditions. Throw into the mix payment holidays on a magnitude that lenders have never witnessed before and the need to replace physical valuations with other solutions.


Applause for the banks

Against this backdrop, we should be applauding the work of the banks keeping things going as best they can. The speed and reactions of lenders should be applauded and not berated.

In these most challenging times while there are some dilemmas that we all face and casualties that will arise from this, let us all take a minute to appreciate the huge efforts being made to keep us safe in our homes.

To keep the economy stable and the hard work going on behind closed doors to give us all a fighting chance of surviving this pandemic.

What is different this time round to 2008 is the use of social media. Sure Twitter was around in 08, but barely two years old it was not the beast it is today.

News was not reported as fast, opinions not delivered as quick. Facebook was four years old but was full of students and not quite the diverse medium it is today. As for LinkedIn, nowhere near the monster it is now.

These platforms have helped news travel faster, and with the news come opinions. With the opinions, fear. The spread of the coronavirus has been rapid, but the scaremongering was quicker.

For every 100 bad news stories, you’ll find one positive.  Bad news stories circulating in the mainstream media that the mortgage market is in lockdown are being used as ‘click bait’ as a friend of mine so eloquently called it.


Impossible decisions in impossible times

Instead let’s salute the hard working heads of lending in the banks, building societies and specialist lenders who are tasked with impossible decisions, in impossible times, in an unprecedented era.

Let’s praise the business owners, the leaders, the brokers, the underwriters and the business development managers who are doing everything within their power to keep this industry going and keep it moving through something none of us have come anywhere near close to experiencing before.

Businesses like Knowledge Bank have shown their incredible strength giving daily updates even to non members. It is this spirit and this togetherness that will help pull us all through these difficult times.

Our thoughts are with everyone who has lost their jobs, with all the families that have been affected by the outbreak and to all those who have lost someone they love.

These are unprecedented times, but this is a resilient industry. While we will have casualties, we can take stock and we’ll come back from this.

Let’s all unite as we always have done before and find a way through this.

Best of luck to us all over these coming months and see you on the other side.


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