The lack of sustained higher loan to value (LTV) products for much of the year, increased house prices and changes to criteria as a result of Covid-19 have all made it more challenging for potential borrowers to realise their homeownership dreams.
However, we’re seeing positive signs that the worst is behind us.
More lenders are returning to higher LTV markets, some first-time buyers have been able to save more money during lockdown and with the help and support of advisers knowing where to look and how best to apply, there is an increasing number of deals to be found.
The need for advice and support will also continue to be significant for the increasing number of self-employed people.
Changing and challenging criteria
Most lenders have amended criteria over the last 12 months, reflecting uncertainty in the economy, but this doesn’t need to be a “one size fits all” change.
Some customers are actually better off than they were before the pandemic, and some employment types have thrived.
Having the same underwriting rules for a restaurant owner and a delivery firm owner for example restricts choice and means that many good quality applicants could miss out.
But by being prepared, brokers have the opportunity to help more clients find a solution. Knowing what different lenders require and packaging cases to those requirements will save time and delight clients.
Lenders ready to support
We know that fewer cases going forward will be simple, and we’re ready for more complex cases.
We’ve invested in new technology to help brokers submit applications and we’ve increased our number of highly skilled underwriters, expanding our team by 21 new colleagues already this year.
We also know how important a common-sense approach to lending is for cases that don’t tick every box – that’s why our policy isn’t black or white; we look at cases to see how we can lend where it makes sense to do so.
For example, we recently supported a barber buying their first home whose income had been impacted by temporary closures as a result of lockdown, and a self-employed medical consultant experiencing less routine surgical work while operations were limited to essential only.
Our underwriters examined the cases in more detail and taking a rational view of the clients’ usual circumstances pre- and post-Covid, on top of the credible information they could provide, both received offers.
As the market bounces back from the pandemic, demand for advice from first-time or self-employed borrowers is likely to remain strong.
It’s a fantastic opportunity for advisers to explore the options available and offer support where it’s needed the most.