Martese Carton to lead national mortgage teams at Leeds BS

Martese Carton to lead national mortgage teams at Leeds BS

Carton, who has worked for Leeds BS since 2016, will now supervise the broker and direct mortgage teams.

First hired as head of intermediary distribution, she most recently was leading service and support for mortgage brokers and financial advisers, which represent most of the mutual’s lending.

“My time with the society has seen huge change, for the business and the wider industry, and the expectations of borrowers and our intermediary partners continue to evolve“, Carton said. “We continue to invest heavily in our mortgage lending teams, whether in improving IT systems or expanding key teams and creating skilled jobs, such as mortgage underwriters.

“Successfully launching Mortgage Hub, our online platform, has made the application process quicker and easier for our intermediary partners and gives us the capability to link seamlessly with other industry systems. Our better use of technology also frees up colleagues for more complex cases and person-to-person inquiries.”

Andy Moody, chief commercial officer at Leeds BS, said creating the director of mortgage distribution position would strengthen the delivery of mortgage lending.

He said: “The continuing investment in our mortgage lending service and systems is proof of our commitment to our purpose, to bring home ownership within reach for more people. We’re in a time of huge technological change for our industry and competition in the mortgage market remains extremely fierce.

 “I’m confident Martese’s strong experience and leadership skills will help us to remain successful in the face of these many challenges.”

Smartr365 confirms TSB, Aldermore, Leeds BS and Accord integration to Iress platform

Smartr365 confirms TSB, Aldermore, Leeds BS and Accord integration to Iress platform


The integration will be live for all Smartr365 users from August 2021.

The platform has bedded in integrations with Halifax and Barclays and Smartr confirmed another three lenders will join the Iress platform and integrate with the platform within weeks. Another major lender will complete a direct to Smartr365 integration by the end of Q3.

Each integration is tailored to the individual lender and advisers will need to drop into the lender website during the application, but fact find data collected from Smartr365’s client-facing portal is enlisted to be shared directly with these four lenders, removing the need to re-key.

Smartr365 offers downloadable QR codes which become an app to help consumers fill out its fact find, identity verification via Experian, integrated sourcing and a relationship with conveyancing panel manager ULS.

Conor Murphy (pictured), chief executive of Smartr365, said lenders have made major moves during the pandemic to prioritise technology advances, so service is becoming a major differentiator for brokers when the rate or benefits of a deal are very similar across the major lenders.

“Whether that means having a business development manager available for a chat or a streamlined online system, service is a perfectly reasonable justification for choosing one lender over another. The FCA allows brokers to quote service as a reason barring a one per cent rate differential of course,” said Murphy.

The platform confirmed it has 2,200 users, paying a £100 monthly subscription, equating to growth of 700 per cent in the last 12 months.

The business is owned by founder Conor Murphy and in 2018, received investment from Legal & General. Murphy founded both Capricorn Financial and Smartr365 Technology and continues to operate as CEO for both businesses.

Murphy added: “Everything that Smartr365 does is designed to make a broker’s job simpler and easier, and Iress’ mission is directly aligned to this. We look forward to working with Iress more in the future and continuing our work to transform the mortgage process.”

Andrew Simon, executive general manager of product at Iress, said: “We’re delighted that Smartr365’s integration with Lender Connect is now live. The broker journey has been vastly simplified and users now have access to some of the country’s largest lenders.”

Leeds BS adds two-year 95 per cent LTV mortgages

Leeds BS adds two-year 95 per cent LTV mortgages


The lender is not using the government’s mortgage guarantee scheme and relaunched its offering last week with a pair of five-year fixes.

The latest two-year deals come with an interest rate of 3.8 per cent for the £499 fee version and at 3.95 per cent with zero fee.

Both products have a free standard valuation up to £999 and are available for first-time buyers and home movers.

“We recently returned to 95 per cent LTV lending and are now extending our range to offer short term fixed rate mortgages, improving the choice for borrowers and helping more people achieve their dream of owning their own home,” said Matt Bartle, director of products at Leeds Building Society.

“It’s important to us to assist those buyers who are not well served by the wider market, including those with smaller deposits, to allow more people to have the home they want.”


Govt mulling holiday let tax changes as Leeds BS adds pair of mortgages

Govt mulling holiday let tax changes as Leeds BS adds pair of mortgages


The statement came following a written question about whether it would be applying HMRC guidance on furnished holiday lets to the business rates criteria for self-catering accommodation.

This follows a consultation published by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) considering the issue in November 2018.

Minister for regional growth and local government Luke Hall said: “The government has consulted on possible changes to the rules under which holiday lets are assessed for business rates, including the possible addition of a letting criterion.

“We have been considering responses to that consultation, taking into account factors such as the impact of the pandemic on the tourism industry and consideration of owners of holiday properties in less frequently visited parts of the country.

“The government intends to provide an update on the consultation shortly.”

The consultation proposed strengthening the criteria under which furnished holiday lets could claim business rates classification instead of council tax, which tends to be more expensive.


Lenders responding

The holiday let market has generated great interest since the pandemic hit restricting holidays abroad, with brokers calling for lenders to launch new products.

Leeds Building Society said it experienced its biggest-ever month for holiday let purchase applications last September in a busy second half of 2020.

It is adding two five-year fixed deals at 60 per cent and 70 per cent loan to value (LTV) into its holiday let offering at 3.69 per cent and 4.29 per cent respectively.

Each comes with a free standard valuation, no product fees with fees assisted legal services available for remortgages.

“Holiday lets are a popular choice for our buy-to-let borrowers with the potential for higher yield returns,” said Matt Bartle, director of products at Leeds Building Society.

“Ongoing pandemic-related uncertainty around international travel adds to the likelihood that more Britons will holiday in the UK this year.

“Therefore, a suitable property in a prime tourist area may offer an opportunity for buy-to-let landlords to diversify their portfolio with a short let holiday property.

“We’ve expanded our holiday let range to offer more choice to borrowers, who may wish to take advantage of this under-served part of the mortgage market,” he added.



Remortgaging, BTL and suburban property key areas for brokers in 2021 – Carton

Remortgaging, BTL and suburban property key areas for brokers in 2021 – Carton


A survey of brokers through our online intermediary research panel revealed an overall positive note with 55 per cent optimistic about the future.

However, some observed that confidence could dip the longer the year goes on amid concerns market conditions will change with incentives like the stamp duty holiday ending.

Nearly half of brokers said they had seen a change in the kinds of property their clients were looking to buy, with two thirds of this group reporting an increase in demand for new-build family homes and over a third seeing less interest in individual flats.

Those surveyed expect remortgaging to be the key area of focus over the next 12 months, but said other areas of interest are buy to let, investing in suburban properties and affordable housing.

When we asked about the biggest changes they had faced in 2020, perhaps unsurprisingly many said not being able to meet people, with one noting they found it: “Much harder to do business when not seeing clients face-to-face.”

On the flip side, another noted using Zoom and other digital tools had cut back on travelling and allowed more efficient use of time.


Technology needs time

It has also been interesting to read about the experiences of the group of 26 brokers who took part in our latest online Intermediary TalkingPoint forum which gives brokers a chance to share their views and help us shape future product innovations and service improvements.

It’s clear to see how technology has had such an impact on all our lives and as we look ahead I think that will only increase.

Embracing innovation gives us the opportunity to simplify processes for all.

Undoubtedly it will take time for us all to get used to this new way of working and major schemes like our Mortgage Hub take time to evolve and bed in.

But reflecting on our approach, I do believe a simpler end-to-end process is already saving intermediaries time and effort and helping them to provide their clients with the very best service.

As we all wait to see what the months ahead have in store for us, it’s hard not to conclude that technology will play an ever more important role in the next phase of the evolution of the mortgage market and the onus will be on us all to continue to adapt.



Mortgage market ‘absolutely flying’ as demand outpaces lender capacity – Leeds BS

Mortgage market ‘absolutely flying’ as demand outpaces lender capacity – Leeds BS


Both figures were down significantly compared to £1.9bn lending and £49.4bn profits in the same period last year, as the coronavirus and housing market closure hit.

But Fearon (pictured) said he was pleased with the performance and praised colleagues for adapting to the situation.

The mutual included a £9.3m write down fair value charge against its legacy equity release portfolio and other mortgage assets and a further £9.6m increase in impairment provision charges, to help prepare for a potential economic downturn.

However, Fearon told Mortgage Solutions he is hopeful the situation will be more positive than this and believes house prices may only be lightly affected.

The lender is officially forecasting a dip of 2.5 per cent in house prices this year, but Fearon believes the data coming through since the market’s re-opening shows any hit could be less than that.

This is backed up by the lender’s latest business data on mortgage and housing activity.

“Demand is very strong, the mortgage market is absolutely flying,” Fearon said.

“If we compare June to April, we were about 90 per cent up which was higher than June 2019, and July is about 30 per cent up on June so far, so its very strong.”

“We do have some constraints on service volumes with home working, but not as much as some lenders,” he added.

This aim of managing service levels has been addressed with increases in rates and limiting product availability – moves which appear to be being matched across the markets, especially at higher loan to values at present.

“Looking at what we’ve done, its very much about demand is too strong for what we can service at the service levels we want to offer, so we’re altering range and market prices so we can offer service levels,” Fearon added.


Buy-to-let building

This demand has been driven not just by the stamp duty cut announced earlier this month, but also as a result of the coronavirus.

Some of it is from pent-up demand and cases that were held up, but research by the lender also found lockdown had prompted some first-time buyers to take the leap into home ownership.

Buy-to-let has also seen a pick-up in demand since the stamp duty holiday was announced, with this applying to landlords and second home purchases in England and Northern Ireland.

And the mutual’s re-entry to holiday lets shows it believes this will be a strong market for the next year or two.

However, it’s launch into limited company, which was announced just before the coronavirus arrived, has been put on hold during the pandemic, although it is still in the plans.

Other options such as products for houses of multiple occupation (HMO) have also bee paused during the pandemic as the complexities prove difficult to navigate and the lender addresses its risk appetitive.


Broker hub launch in August

A new mortgage broker hub remains on course and the lender is expecting to be in the staged roll out of that in August as it eases the platform into the market.

“We are only weeks away from rolling out broker hub, and that will make it much easier for brokers to work with us, submit cases, and will improve our capacity,” Fearon continued.

“It’s progressed to plan which I have been incredibly impressed by. It’s one of many examples where colleagues have impressed.

“There will be a phased roll out starting in August over several weeks and I think it will help us support the market and our intermediary partners,” he added.


Nationwide and Leeds BS offer deferred payment options as lenders renew mortgage holidays

Nationwide and Leeds BS offer deferred payment options as lenders renew mortgage holidays


The mutuals have created websites to help guide borrowers through the process with various options being available.

Both lenders emphasised that it was better for borrowers to repay as much as they could afford, and their customers will be directed to calculators to make clear the financial impact of the change as payment breaks will continue to accrue interest.

The moves come as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) confirmed earlier this month how the three-month extension to mortgage payment holidays would work for those re-applying and those making their first claim.

While payment holidays will not be reported on credit files, lenders can use them to assess mortgage affordability and many are doing so already.



Nationwide said it was offering new three-month mortgage payment breaks as well as providing the option to make partial payments towards a mortgage.

Its members already receiving payment support will be contacted prior to it ending and directed online.

Additional measures coming before the end of June include extending mortgage payment breaks to buy-to-let landlords.

Nationwide said it is encouraging landlords to apply for the breaks if their tenants are struggling to pay rent due to Covid-19, and where possible to pass on the benefit.

It also reiterated that no mortgage member falling into arrears as a result of Covid-19 will lose their home until the end of May 2021 if they work with the society to get their finances back on track.

Nationwide director of mortgages Henry Jordan said: “Many people are still experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the outbreak and we want to support where we can.

“While we would always encourage people to pay what they can, there are cases where this is just not possible.

“The unknown timeframe of how long this impact will last has led us to halting repossessions linked to Covid-19 until the end of May 2021 to give our members as much reassurance as we can.

“All that we ask is that our members continue to engage with us so that we can agree with them the best way to help them.”


Leeds BS

Leeds Building Society has introduced the ability to repay some or all of borrowers’ deferred repayments by lump sum immediately for those who are able to.

The mutual will also be recalculating the monthly repayment, to ensure deferred repayments are spread over the remaining term of the mortgage or giving the option to extend the mortgage term.

It is also waiving any arrears fees until the end of June and will not seek possession of any properties before the end of October, unless the borrower requests it.

Borrowers will be contacted by letter or email at the end of their mortgage payment holiday, which will explain the impact on their repayments and any action they need to take.

It will direct them to the relevant part of the website which will have the latest information and guidance and will direct them to their options.

“While it remains best advice to pay your mortgage if you can, we know some families who’ve taken a payment holiday already will welcome being able to now defer repayments for up to six months,” said Leeds Building Society chief customer officer Jaedon Green.

He continued: “The pandemic is a worrying time for so many people, about their finances and much more.

“We’ve tried to make the process as straightforward as possible for anyone who’s taken a mortgage payment holiday since March or is thinking they may need to in the coming months.

“While we’ll continue to work with any borrowers experiencing longer-term financial difficulties, customers who applied for a mortgage payment holiday as a precaution should be aware the deferral of monthly payments or extending the mortgage term results in additional interest payable over the life of the mortgage.”



NatWest reprices remos; Accord and Virgin increase high LTV rates; Leeds BS extends new build – round-up

NatWest reprices remos; Accord and Virgin increase high LTV rates; Leeds BS extends new build – round-up


NatWest has trimmed rates on 19 of its core and semi-exclusive remortgage and product transfer deals.

For new customers, remortgage deals at a range of loan to values (LTVs) between 60 per cent and 75 per cent have been reduced by up to nine basis points.

The changes apply to two-year and five-year fixed rate deals from the standard and high value product ranges.

Interest rates on product transfers for existing customers have also been lowered by up to nine basis points for two- and five-year fixes.


Accord and Virgin raise rates

Accord and Virgin Money have increased rates on higher LTV deals significantly.

Virgin has today raised rates by up to 0.49 per cent on its 90 per cent LTV two-, three- and five-year fixed rate products with £995 fee and fee saver options.

Seven-year fixes at up to 90 per cent LTV have been increased by up to 0.15 per cent, while the 10-year long deals are up to 0.05 per cent higher.

Accord is also amending its 90 per cent LTV deals – increasing selected rates at by up to 0.18 per cent and withdrawing a three-year product.

Selected two-year fixes increased by an average of 0.13 per cent, with the larger loan options available up to £600,000 being increased by 0.18 per cent.

And some five-year fixes will be increased by an average of 0.12 per cent, with the larger loan options available up to £600,000 being increased by 0.17 per cent.

The products will be withdrawn at 8pm on 7 June, with new products launched at 9am on 8 June.


Leeds BS extends new build

Meanwhile, Leeds Building Society has extended its new build LTVs.

The mutual has resumed lending on residential new builds with LTVs of 80 per cent for houses and 75 per cent LTV for flats.


Leeds Building Society trials external valuations

Leeds Building Society trials external valuations


Under the trial, valuers still visit the property to inspect it, but do not enter the home.

It comes as many lenders, Leeds BS included, resume physical valuations this week.

Most lenders had only been carrying out desktop and automatic valuation models since March when the UK went into lockdown.

However, the mutual said it recognised many people were still concerned about external visitors in the home during the current climate.

Jaedon Green, chief customer officer, said: “We’ll complete desktop valuations to ensure we maximise capacity for physical valuations.

“Where a desktop isn’t appropriate, we’ll try to complete a full physical valuation, although most structural issues can typically be identified externally.

“However, we appreciate we’re living in a complex world, especially for homeowners and our customers,  who may be isolating for medical reasons, shielding, or concerned about risk, despite valuer precautions such as the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

“For those reasons, we’re working with Countrywide, using a physical external valuation where that’s sufficient to give the necessary confidence on valuation for the loan requested.”



Leeds BS ups max buy-to-let LTV, Hinckley and Rugby BS offers ERC-free RIO – round-up

Leeds BS ups max buy-to-let LTV, Hinckley and Rugby BS offers ERC-free RIO – round-up

The mutual is now offering 75 per cent and 80 per cent LTV buy-to-let products, in addition to deals at 60 per cent and 70 per cent LTV.

It said the move was in response to growing demand from purchasers acquiring new property, who tend to seek mortgages at higher LTVs than those remortgaging.

As a result, Leeds BS is launching a suite of two- and five-year fixed rate deals, available for purchase or remortgage, with a mix of incentives, including £300 cashback and no product fee.

Examples include:

Each of these three deals comes with a free standard valuation and fees assisted legal services.

Leeds Building Society director of products Matt Bartle said the lender was always seeking ways to support more borrowers, particularly those who are less well-served by the wider market.

“At the same time as increasing our maximum LTV, we’ve taken the opportunity to extend our range of buy-to-let deals, with a mixture of fee and incentive options to give landlords more choice,” he said.

“Cashback has proved popular with portfolio landlords acquiring a new property and looking for help to cover initial costs, such as marketing or other professional fees, in readiness for their first tenants to move in.

“Increasing our maximum LTV in this sector also demonstrates our confidence in the continued strong performance of the private rented sector, which remains important to the mix of tenures in a healthy housing market,” he added.


Hinckley and Rugby

Hinckley and Rugby is offering a discount for term retirement interest-only (RIO) mortgages that has no early repayment charges or maximum age, offering peace of mind for applicants that they will not have to revert to standard variable rate (SVR).

The mutual said it would be offering the product to the whole of the intermediary market after being pleased with the quality and quantity of applications during a trial with Legal & General Mortgage Club.

It is also available with an offset savings facility.

The discount for term product is 2.55 per cent off the society’s SVR, with the current charging rate being 3.59 per cent.

The lender said it was designed to provide certainty for later life borrowers thanks to never having to pay the SVR or switch products unless they want to and if their circumstances do change, they will not have to pay ERCs to exit the product.

It is available at up to 60 per cent LTV with a maximum loan of £500,000 and capital raising is also accepted.

Applicants must be at least 55 year-old, but there is no maximum age and valuation is free on properties worth up to £1m, an application fee of £199 stands and the £800 completion fee can be added to the loan.


All sustainable income considered

The mutual said all sustainable sources of income into retirement would be considered and the loan would be repaid from the sale proceeds of the property after a specified life event such as death or moving into long-term care.

Hinckley & Rugby head of sales and marketing Carolyn Thornley-Yates (pictured) said: “We stepped into the RIO market in May and have been so encouraged by the response that we now want to offer it to all intermediaries.”

Answers in Retirement Group commercial director Gary Little added: “Certainly, the advisers of AIR Mortgage Club and their clients will benefit from having access to this, especially in terms of the certainty it delivers to later life clients and the extra options it offers, such as the offset savings facility.

“It’s positive to see a lender pushing the envelope in this area and recognising strong demand from later life borrowers. I’m sure it will be met positively by our member firms.”