The platform, Criteria Hub, hosts 250 points of residential mortgage criteria from over 20 lenders and is supported by major lenders including Santander and NatWest, with 20 more currently in talks.
The hub’s creator, Jason Hegarty, who is also director of brokerage Keystone IMC, decided to take action after becoming frustrated with the amount of hours spent trawling lenders’ criteria and calling help desks. Along with a fellow broker and software designer, the team has built a criteria sourcing platform which is kept up to date by the lenders using it.
“The current method of sourcing a deal based on criteria rather than rate is extremely disjointed,” said Hegarty. “The closest fix we have to individually checking websites is using an excel spreadsheet set up by a mortgage network, which goes out of date the moment it is published.”
The sourcing system has taken two years to develop, from the build of the platform to knocking on doors trying to get the first lenders on board. He admits, during the early stages of development it was difficult to garner support.
“Naturally lenders want to know which other firms are involved, but it is in the commercial interests to be a part of the system so once they understood the benefits of the tool most were keen to sign up.”
“It gives lenders that cannot compete on price an opportunity to come top of the table for criteria.”
Big six and more
Of the big six banks in terms of lending, Santander and NatWest have joined the hub while Hegarty remains in talks with Barclays, HSBC and Nationwide. He is hopeful that Halifax will soon be on board.
However, as welcome as big bank support may be, it is the smaller lenders which tend to have criteria quirks but do not publish them on their website.
The search function allows multiple criteria to be cross checked and will provide a list of lenders which match all the requirements and those which return a partial match.
For example, a broker can search for a lender which will accept an applicant on benefit income who is not repaying their debt in full (see search below). The list of results includes functions such as ‘Warnings’ and Outside Policy’ which alert the user to caveats to the critera.
Searches can be exported to a client file to show evidence of the search.
The platform is still in its testing stage and brokers are invited to sign up and try the tool with feedback welcome. When the platform has exceeded 25 lenders, Hegarty plans to market the product for a fee.
“It’s hard to make criteria searchable,” he added. “There are so many ifs and buts, however we think this format works well.” Hegarty’s next goal to build in buy-to-let criteria and add live chat functions to the search results.