OSB managing director Alan Cleary (pictured) told Mortgage Solutions that while lifting restrictions in the property market was very welcome, lenders were still restricted in the case loads and services they could manage.
“This is not going to be flick a switch and all comes back to normal, this is going to be a partial return over months and months,” Cleary said.
He continued: “We have all had a fairly challenging period, us included. We’ve got our fair share of payment holiday requests and also had to figure out how to keep our staff safe and well.
“We now have 75 per cent of our staff working from home with the minimum number of people in the office who cannot work from home.
“Clearly all this has impacted [case handling] volumes for all lenders.”
Cover as many bases as possible
OSB, which includes the Precise, Kent Reliance and Interbay Commercial brands, said the new product range launched across the trio represented the initial phase of a structured rollout plan as valuers return to the market and estate agents start to open their doors again.
“There is a focus on residential and buy-to-let – we’ve tried to cover as many bases as we can but haven’t done everything on those,” Cleary said.
“We’ve got houses in multiple occupation (HMO) and limited company on buy-to-let and Help to Buy on the residential offering.
“The biggest thing to be moving on with is when we can get staff back in the office and that will be when the government says it is safe.
“The next push will be to widen out the product range and then we’ll make further moves,” he added.
The extended LTV limits will be applied to pipeline cases and new applications, with the lenders going through their case loads to find those which will now be eligible.
Cleary was not able to put a figure on how long it would take to clear the pipeline, but said he hoped OSB would be able to work through it quickly.
“We are treating customers fairly in terms of fees and other requirements,” he added.
Light at the end
Overall, Cleary is generally positive about the current situation within the mortgage and wider property market, but acknowledged that the lockdown had been a tough period.
“The purchase market was obviously dead because the property market was held back and the whole market was subdued,” he said.
“We will wait and see in the coming weeks how volumes are going to spread out – there’s some light at the end of the tunnel but we’re going to have to take one step at a time.
“The statistics coming from estate agents over the last week have been encouraging and there’s still a lot of interest in property.”
Cleary reiterated that the sector would find ways to get back to normality and the need to protect staff and people in the market was the top priority.