Masthaven promotes McQueen to senior lending operations manager
McQueen (pictured) has worked at the bank for around six years, starting as an underwriter and then working up to underwriting manager, before becoming business readiness manager in 2020.
Prior to Masthaven she worked as an underwriter at Prestige Finance for just under two years, and before that worked as a senior finance officer for the government of Western Australia in Perth for just under a year.
In her role she will report to Shelly Connelly, who was appointed director of lending and credit operations in August.
McQueen will support the lending operations teams and help deliver its long and short-term products.
Connelly said: “At Masthaven we’re always investing in our people so that we can provide the best possible service to our intermediary partners. We’re constantly looking for any ways to improve how we operate as a bank and everyone across all our teams is dedicated to this process.
“I’m excited to work with Michaela in her new role and I know she will bring a wealth of enthusiasm and practical experience to the job.”
Masthaven launches its lowest bridging rate as minimum loan falls
The bank’s minimum loan has been cut from £300,000 to £200,000.
For bridging loans at £200,000, rates will start at 0.43 per cent, a decrease of 0.15 per cent marking the bank’s lowest ever bridging rate.
Dual legal representation, where one law firm acts for the lender and the borrower, has been ushered in for bridging deals which Masthaven says will make the legal process smoother and cheaper for borrowers.
Richard Deacon (pictured), sales director at Masthaven, said: “The challenges over the last 18 months, as well as the stamp duty holiday, have all made the traditional homebuying process more difficult and have highlighted the value of bridging finance.
“Today’s changes are designed to cater for this growing demand and allow more customers to access bridging finance solutions easily and at rates close to those we offer on our traditional residential mortgages. Bridging finance is no longer an option of last resort and we’re confident that the product updates we have made today will provide a greater number of customers with the finance that’s right for them.”
Masthaven’s Connelly promoted to director of lending and credit ops
She was previously director of mortgage lending at the bank and the promotion has expanded her responsibilities.
Connelly will handle the daily management of the lending operations team across both short and long-term lending. She will also aim to streamline Masthaven’s operational processes and turnaround times.
She will work with chief lending officer David Kennedy to oversee the bank’s credit operations, credit decisioning and lending transformation teams.
Kennedy said: “Even though we’ve not been able to meet face-to-face for some time now, we remain totally committed to investing in our people.
“The bank is built on strong teams that need great leaders. Shelley is an example of this strong leadership, and she will bring a wealth of experience and specialist knowledge to her new role overseeing short-term lending.”
He added: “It’s also a powerful reminder of the success of our Women in Leadership programme which the bank launched in 2020. Diversity and inclusion are at the top of our agenda at Masthaven, and we believe that creating a more inclusive and representative workplace is not only the right thing to do, but also critical for our success as a business.”
Masthaven cuts rates and scraps bank statements for self-employed and BTL
A rate cut of 20 basis points (bps) was applied to the lender’s two-year fixed first charge residential mortgage, giving a starting rate of 3.04 per cent.
The two-year fixed fee-free version was reduced also by 20 bps to start from 3.54 per cent.
The five-year fixed equivalents were lowered by 25 bps, to go from 3.34 per cent, and for the fee-free 3.64 per cent.
The criteria relaxations saw additional earnings like bonus and overtime allowed in affordability calculations.
Changes for self-employed cases saw projections now considered, as well as not having to provide bank statements in all circumstances.
BTL cases also do not now require bank statements in all situations.
Further, the lender extended its policy on automated valuations so that they are now possible for purchase and BTL cases, and up to £350,000 on first and second charge.
Rob Barnard, director of intermediaries at Masthaven (pictured), said that “a return to many of our pre-Covid underwriting approaches”, would let the lender “continue supporting borrowers, brokers and the wider market, even as some may begin seeing affordability issues owing to high prices, the end of stamp duty relief and the furlough scheme closing.”
Flexible lending criteria biggest priority for borrowers post-pandemic
Masthaven Bank’s broker beat survey, which collated the views of 186 brokers, suggested that the increased importance of flexible lending criteria was since brokers expected customers to be financially impacted by the pandemic in the next 12 months.
It added that because of the wind-up of government support schemes such as furlough, borrowers would need more personalised and flexible lending solutions.
Other factors which had grown in importance included speed and customer services.
Just over a quarter of brokers said low rates were more important now than before the pandemic. This comes as lenders have started to bring out sub-one per cent deals.
The findings reinforce the results of the same survey taken at the end of 2020, which also found that flexible lending criteria was a key concern for borrowers.
In comparison, 2019’s survey found 23 per cent of brokers said customers were more likely to prioritise flexible lending criteria, and only five per cent believed low fees were a priority. A further 35 per cent said low rates were at the top of borrowers’ agendas.
Masthaven Bank’s director of intermediaries Rob Barnard (pictured) said there was no doubt Covid-19 had been a driver behind customer’s shift in priorities, which would lead to customers look for lenders with a more personal and flexible approach.
He added: “While lockdown restrictions may have come to an end, the future still looks uncertain and the full extent of the impact of the pandemic is yet to be felt. However, the housing market has proved itself to be resilient, and by working together, lenders and brokers can ensure borrowers have access to the flexible products they want and need.”
Broker confidence strengthened by thriving property sector
According to a survey conducted by Masthaven Bank, 92 per cent of brokers were confident about the next 12 months compared to 87 per cent last year.
The survey of 186 respondents found 77 per cent expected their sales and revenue to increase this year while 42 per cent predicted growth would be in the double figures.
Only three per cent of brokers expected sales to decline.
Positive sentiment among brokers was extended to the property sector as a whole, reflected by the 88 per cent who were collectively either ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’ about the next 12 months.
This was a sign of increased optimism compared to the end of last year, as just 71 per cent of brokers reported the same level of confidence at the time.
When asked about the challenges facing their business, 26 per cent of brokers said economic uncertainty was the biggest obstacle, down from the 30 per cent who said the same in December 2020.
A quarter of brokers were concerned about lenders’ service levels and 16 per cent felt further local or national lockdowns due to Covid-19 could threaten their business.
Rob Barnard, director of intermediaries at Masthaven, said: “Broker confidence has climbed even higher since the start of the year, reflecting the current strength of the property market, as well as general optimism surrounding the UK’s vaccine rollout and the easing of lockdown restrictions.
“The industry has worked tirelessly to support homebuyers since the start of the pandemic. This hard work, combined with pent-up demand from early 2020 and government support in the form of the stamp duty holiday, has resulted in a booming property market – but there are still challenges on the horizon.”
Barnard said the winding down of the various Covid-19 support initiatives would be felt by borrowers and brokers needed to be prepared.
“As the market enters this next phase, brokers and lenders alike will need to work together closely to support all customers, but particularly those who have been affected heavily by the pandemic. Innovation and collaboration will be key in ensuring the industry continues to provide products tailored to customers’ needs,” he added.
Masthaven launches limited edition BTL products; Landbay brings out HMO products
The lender will offer loan sizes between £40,000 and £1m at 65 and 70 per cent LTV and the maximum loan value for 75 per cent LTV is £600,000.
The products are available on both two-year fixed rates and five-year fixed rates with a reversion rate of 5.5 per cent.
The two-year fixed rate deal at 65 per cent LTV has a rate of 2.75 per cent, and its two-year fixed at 70 and 75 per cent LTV has a rate of 2.79 per cent. The products are also subject to a lender fee of 1.5 per cent.
The lender is also offering a two-year fixed product with a fee of £1,995 at 70 and 75 per cent LTV, which has a rate of 3.19 per cent.
The five-year fixed at 65 per cent LTV has a rate of 3.09 per cent and at 70 and 75 per cent LTV has a rate of 3.14 per cent. The products are also subject to a lender fee of 1.5 per cent.
Its five-year fixed rate with a lender fee of £1,995, available at 70 and 75 per cent LTV, has a rate of 3.44 per cent.
The two-year fixed rate products are subject to early repayment charges (ERCs) of three per cent in the first year and two per cent in the subsequent year.
For the five-year fixed products, ERCs begin at five per cent, declining by one percentage point incrementally for each year of the fixed period.
The products are available for corporate tenants, individual or professional landlords, limited companies, houses of multiple occupancy (HMO) and student accommodation. Other features include no credit scoring and unlimited gifted deposits and equity.
Landbay brings in two products for first-time HMO landlords
Landbay has released two products for first-time landlords lending against houses in multiple occupancy (HMOs).
The products are available for properties with up to six bedrooms and also includes new-build properties.
The lender said that the new products were in response to broker feedback, who reported increased enquiries from first-time landlords regarding HMOs due to the higher yield.
The two-year fixed rate product has a rate of 3.49 per cent and the five-year fixed has a rate of 3.79 per cent. Both products have are available up to 70 per cent LTV and are subject to 1.5 per cent fee.
Paul Brett, managing director, intermediaries at Landbay, said: “Landlords are becoming more sophisticated and they understand the responsibilities of managing an HMO. They have done their homework and know the yields on HMOs are much higher than single flats or houses resulting in greater financial rewards.
“There is also more demand for living in HMOs, particularly from young professionals who want or need to share a house. Some simply can’t afford to rent their own place but many actually like communal living. Much of the HMO accommodation is far better quality than it used to be and can demand a higher rent.”
Masthaven introduces its lowest ever bridging rates starting at 0.43 per cent
Rates for its core bridging product previously started at 0.48 per cent, and the reduction makes it one of the most affordable in the market according to the lender.
The lender has also introduced re-bridging on this core bridging product and changed its lending criteria to give borrowers more flexibility.
The lender updated its Mini Bridge range, which offers loans between £200,000 and £300,000, to allow multiple properties.
Masthaven’s bridging director Alan Margolis said: “With the introduction of our lowest ever bridging rate and the changes to our lending criteria, we’re making Masthaven’s offering even more competitive and ensuring that we can provide more people with the finance that’s right for them.”
He said that bridging finance was now a “mainstream product,” as demand had grown over the past year, with borrowers and brokers looking for flexible short-term finance solutions — as lockdowns, stamp duty deadlines and pandemic chain-breaks disrupted the home buying process.
In February, the lender launched a refurbishment range, which includes a heavy refurbishment option, and mini bridge products, to meet the growing demand for bridging finance.
Sector welcomes positive price growth, but borrowers ‘still jump through hoops’
House prices across the UK grew 10.2 per cent in the year to March 2021, the ONS said.
The rate of growth was the highest since August 2007, with an acceleration having started in H2 2020 and then continuing into this year.
The increase month-on-month was 2.1 per cent from February to March 2021, compared to 0.8 per cent for January to February.
Price growth was strongest for detached properties, at 11.7 per cent. For a flat or maisonette it was 5 per cent.
The average price of a home hit £256,000 in March, up from £232,000 in the same month last year — for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
In each of the four countries of the UK, average prices reached record levels.
For England, prices grew 10.2 per cent to £275,000. In Wales, they were up 11 per cent to £185,000.
Scotland saw growth of 10.6 per cent to £167,00. While in Northern Ireland, prices were up 6 per cent to £149,000.
Yorkshire and the Humber recorded the highest growth for a region at 14 per cent, and the lowest was in London at 3.7 per cent.
Positive and challenging
The mortgage sector interpreted the price growth as positive.
“This confidence in the market is hugely positive. However, with property prices continuing to increase, those trying to get on the ladder are going to struggle,” said Gareth Lewis, commercial director at lender MT Finance.
He added: “Government has a responsibility to make property more affordable.”
At Aldermore, head of mortgage distribution, Jon Cooper, said: “House price rises often indicate the health of the wider economy, so this is a positive sign for the UK’s recovery.”
He added: “We’re seeing a shift in preference as buyers seek more space and access to nature.”
Simon Furnell, chief operating office at Masthaven Bank, also noted, “the race for space,” in rural and suburban areas.
But Furnell added: “It’s important that the sector and house buyers prepare for possible volatility once the stamp duty holiday deadline passes on 30 June,” — with specialist lenders having a role to play.
On the regional picture, Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “With prices in Yorkshire and the Humber continuing to outpace London – as people no longer have to be in the capital as much as before – one hopes we end up with a more balanced housing market across the country.
Harris added: “Lenders have plenty of cash. . . and it’s hard to see interest rates rising any time soon, which is good news for borrowers. But the impact of the pandemic means that some, such as the self-employed, still have to jump through hoops when it comes to getting a mortgage.”
Taking the wider investor’s perspective, SPI Capital chief executive, Anna Clare Harper, said: “The rise and rise of house prices is something we have become accustomed to. . . With construction costs rising, it’s easy to see how house price rises will continue over the coming years.”
SimplyBiz Mortgages launches specialist finance mortgage club
The range of bridging loans, development finance, commercial mortgages and specialist buy-to-let products will be available from 12 lenders to start with.
The club will offer special arrangements and enhanced procuration fees, as well as exclusive access to some lenders and products which may not previously have been available to all brokers.
Lenders who are members of the Financial Intermediary and Broker Association (FIBA), which is owned by SimplyBiz parent company Fintel, are offering the products.
They are Affirmative, InterBay Commercial, LendInvest, Masthaven, MFS, Octane, Octopus RE, Reward Finance, Roma Finance, Together, UTB and YBS Commercial.
Advisers and brokers who are members of SimplyBiz Mortgages or FIBA can access the club.
“Many firms have taken the opportunity to diversify over the past 12 months,” said Martin Reynolds, chief executive at SimplyBiz Mortgages.
“This unique opportunity now gives SimplyBiz Mortgages’ members access to a number of lenders in this highly-defined lender area, offering a variety of solutions for client requirements and adding another strength to the proposition.”