OSB sales restructure includes senior departures
Field-based business development managers (BDMs), a new intermediary sales development department, and the specialist finance team will report into group sales director Adrian Moloney.
Meanwhile, the corporate account team, which manages the relationship with mortgage clubs and mortgage networks, will report into group distribution director Roger Morris.
As a result, two long-serving specialist distribution managers, James Briggs and Daniel Watson, have left the lender – confirming the changes on their Linkedin pages.
Briggs had been with the lender for seven years most recently in the bridging finance and second charge arena, while Watson had served four years with the specialist lender.
When asked by Specialist Lending Solutions the lender did not give any details on the change to the size of the team, how many people had left the business or if there would be any further changes as the lenders come together.
They follow former head of sales Jamie Pritchard who confirmed his exit last month, having won the head of sales title at the British Specialist Lending Awards 2020 in October.
Following the restructure, it said heads of intermediary sales development, specialist finance, corporate accounts and two national sales managers have been appointed.
Simon Cockerill has been appointed as head of intermediary sales development across all lending brands.
The role will be to develop and lead a new and enhanced telephony and web-based service that will assist field-based BDMs and enhance the contact strategy to support broker partners.
Emily Machin takes on a new role as head of specialist finance, leading the sales teams covering bridging, second charge and commercial lending for Precise Mortgages and InterBay Commercial.
Liza Campion has taken the position of head of corporate accounts for all lending brands and is responsible for all senior relationships with mortgage club and mortgage network partners.
James Forth and Alan Kimber will take up wider national sales manager roles overseeing the BDM teams for Precise Mortgages and Kent Reliance for Intermediaries respectively.
Writing on LinkedIn, Briggs said: “I’ve had a great seven years, learned a lot and worked with some fantastic people and businesses.
“I’m very grateful to Alan Cleary, Roger Morris, Jamie Pritchard and Adrian Moloney for their support, along with all the other great people I’ve worked with.
“I look forward to a fresh challenge in the New Year, in the meantime I wish all my contacts a healthy and happy New Year.”
Watson also thanked Morris, Pritchard and Moloney after his four year there.
“During this time, I have had the opportunity to work with some fantastic brokers and specialist distributors while expanding my knowledge across the whole specialist market including, buy to let, residential and bridging,” he said.
“It’s been a pleasure working at Precise with some amazing people, in particular the sales team that was formed over my four years.
He added: “I am excited about the next chapter in my career in 2021.”
Commenting on the restructure, group managing director for mortgages Alan Cleary congratulated Cockerill, Machin, Campion, Forth and Kimber on their new roles.
“Through these internal appointments, we’ve captured the experience and knowledge of our best people and utilised their skills to further strengthen our aspiration of becoming a bigger, better and stronger specialist lender,” he said.
“With regards to the people that have exited the business, I wish them all the best for the future.
“Intermediaries have always been fundamental to the success of the group and pivotal in providing borrowers with sound advice, especially during such a challenging time in the mortgage market.”
He added that the changes reinforced its continued commitment to the intermediary market and corporate accounts.
Precise reintroduces refurbishment mortgages
The product involves bridging loan before exiting on to a buy-to-let mortgage, which does not need to be repaid while the refurbishment works are being completed.
Precise said it is designed to help landlords maximise rental yields by refurbishing a property before renting it out, as well as allowing them to take value from the property to reinvest elsewhere.
Landlords can borrow up to 65 per cent LTV on the bridge and 75 per cent of the post-works valuation on the exit buy-to-let mortgage.
The lender added that one application form will produce two offers, one for the bridge and one for the buy to let, as well as two procuration fees.
OneSavings Bank group sales director Adrian Moloney said the relaunch demonstrated its commitment to supporting the market.
“Landlords have traditionally faced difficulty in securing finance to refurbish a property before letting it out,” he said.
“Refurbishment Buy to Let enables them to do so by bringing together the flexibility of bridging finance together with the surety of an exit onto a long-term buy to let once the improvement work has been completed, provided the property meets the expected valuation following refurbishment.”
Precise adds limited edition BTL deals and reintroduces credit impaired range
For its limited edition specials, the lender has reduced fees on its tier one range to 1.25 per cent.
Rates start at 3.14 per cent and are available at up to 70 per cent loan to value – with limited company and personal ownership structures accepted.
Landlords with small and large portfolios can apply and the loans can be used for purchases and remortgages, including houses in multiple occupation (HMO), multi-unit blocks and flats up to 20 storeys high.
Impaired credit landlords
Meanwhile, the lender’s tier two range for landlords that have less than perfect credit profiles has returned.
Precise will accept applicants with credit histories that include defaults and county court judgement (CCJs) if they are registered over 24 months ago.
Products are available at up to 75 per cent LTV, with two-year fixed rates from 3.24 per cent and five-year fixes starting at 3.59 per cent.
It includes HMOs, limited companies and landlords with small or large portfolios.
Precise increases bridging LTV and loan sizes
The lender has increased LTVs to 65 per cent and maximum loan sizes to £1m.
The range includes standard and light refurbishment products on an expanded variety of property types with rates starting from 0.49 per cent per month.
OneSavings Bank group sales director Adrian Moloney (pictured) said: “In the current climate it’s essential that brokers can continue to help as many of their customers as possible.”
Crystal Specialist Finance managing director Jo Breeden added: “It’s great that Precise Mortgages has increased LTVs to 65 per cent.”
“This is a nod to the further confidence investors, brokers and lenders have in bridging as a viable solution for both the regulated and non-regulated market.”
Saffron BS re-enters BTL and Precise cuts rates – round-up
This relaunch includes two expat products; a five-year fix at 75 per cent loan to value (LTV) with a rate of 4.27 per cent and a two-year discount buy to let mortgage priced at 3.99 per cent at 75 per cent LTV with a £1,995 fee.
The domestic buy-to-let product is a five-year fix at 75 per cent LTV priced at 3.67 per cent.
Tony Hall, interim head of mortgage sales at Saffron Building Society, said: “We are so pleased to re-enter the buy-to-let market again after a brief break. It has been a big priority for us to get these products back to market so that borrowers can take advantage of the stamp duty holiday which is due to terminate at the end of March.
“The business development manager team at Saffron are pleased to start accepting new applications from 23 September.”
Precise Mortgages has reduced rates on its buy-to-let mortgages by up to 0.4 per cent and launched help to buy remortgage products.
Rates on its buy-to-let range are now 3.14 per cent for a two-year fixed and 3.49 per cent for a five-year fixed available to individual and limited company borrowers.
For HMOs and limited company HMOs, the two-year fix is priced at 3.44 per cent and the five-year equivalent is 3.74 per cent.
All these products are available up to 75 per cent LTV.
The Help to Buy remortgage products are available to borrowers with impaired credit profiles. There is no product fee and Precise offers a valuation fee refund.
These remortgage deals are available up to 75 per cent LTV and include a two-year fixed at 4.24 per cent and a five-year fixed at 4.34 per cent.
Adrian Moloney, OneSavings Bank group sales director, said: “It’s vital that we support the market in these challenging times, and we believe these rate reductions across our range of buy-to-let mortgages will help brokers in placing more of their customers’ cases.
“As one of the first specialist lenders to enter the Help to Buy market, we remain as committed to the scheme as we always have been, and our new Help to Buy remortgage products will help more first-time buyers meet their aspirations of becoming established homeowners.”
NatWest, Nationwide, TMW and Precise resume Scotland cases as valuations restart
Valuers will be able to resume property inspections in Scotland from 29 June, having already done so this week in Wales.
Nationwide Building Society and its buy-to-let arm The Mortgage Works (TMW) said for those properties on hold, they were hoping to contact the applicant or vendor by 26 June to arrange a booking date.
This will be subject to estate agent access and availability, an initial safety assessment and customer agreement.
“For any physical valuations that were previously booked for week commencing 22 June, these will be rescheduled for week commencing 29 June,” the lender said.
“We’ll continue to accept a transcription of the single survey within the home report for up to six months post inspection, until 31 July 2020 when the normal 90-day rules will apply.”
It also asked brokers not to call as the online case tracking system would be updated and to inform it if the borrower no longer wished to proceed or there had been a material change.
NatWest and Precise
NatWest has confirmed its valuers will also be resuming work in Scotland on 29 June.
This applies to residential and buy-to-let applications, for properties where the occupier allows access and where the valuer confirms the property is safe to enter.
For properties in Scotland, NatWest said its process for transcript valuations remains unaffected and the home report must have been completed within the last 90 days to rely on a transcript.
Where a physical valuation cannot be completed the case will be placed on hold.
And in a communication to brokers, Precise Mortgages confirmed that as per the updated Covid-19 guidelines, it can now progress cases within Wales from today and in Scotland from 29 June, using physical valuations.
Landlords must beware of compliance risks for protecting tenant deposits – Cleary
You’ll also know that I’m fully behind any measure that weeds out those unscrupulous landlords and letting agents who can give the rest of the market a bad name.
It’s why I was so pleased to see it made a legal requirement on 1 April 2019 that all letting or property management agents in England who handle clients’ money must sign up to a government-backed client money protection (CMP) scheme in order to continue trading, or face up to a £30,000 penalty.
These CMP schemes are vital as they give landlords and tenants the peace of mind they will be compensated if a letting agent cannot repay their money, for example if they go into administration.
Any client money must be held in an account with a bank or building society authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, and the agent must obtain a certificate confirming membership of a scheme which must be freely available to anyone who asks to see it.
If this was introduced back in 2019, why am I talking about it again now, more than a year after it was rolled out?
Well, agents were given a grace period of 12 months to set up a pooled account where they could hold all of their clients’ money, avoiding the need to set up hundreds, possibly thousands, of individual accounts.
However, due to the difficulties some agents are having obtaining pooled accounts, the grace period has been extended for a further 12 months, this time to 1 April 2021.
According to government figures, there were still 251 letting agencies who were struggling to find a bank which could provide them with a pooled account.
Thorough due diligence
So where does all of this leave landlords and their tenants?
It goes without saying that landlords should always undertake thorough due diligence to ensure their property agent is compliant with the regulations and signed up to one of the government-approved CMP schemes.
Furthermore, if your client is a landlord with a large number of properties, the Residential Landlords Association suggests they should spread their portfolio across a number of letting agents to ensure they’re fully covered by the scheme.
As with any scheme of this complexity, it was perhaps inevitable there were going to be teething troubles.
So while we wait for the government to iron out the flaws, landlords can ensure their clients’ money is protected by carrying out the proper checks and making sure they don’t put all of their eggs into one basket.
OSB publishes criteria for furloughed and self-employed borrowers
Precise Mortgages and Kent Reliance for Intermediaries will both accept furloughed borrowers for residential applications.
This will be at 80 per cent of income to a maximum of £2,500, along with any evidenced employer top-up above this amount.
However, for those on the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEIS), current income will be used for affordability purposes where evidenced.
And it will not accept bounce back loans and coronavirus business interruption loans (CBILs) as a source for a deposit.
Where buy-to-let cases are concerned, OSB is still not accepting applications with top-slicing.
Where the landlord has income that is unrelated to buy to let, and is in receipt of furlough or SEIS income, then the application can be considered.
Again, bounce back loans and CBILs are not acceptable as a source of deposit.
The lender stressed that there may be additional underwriting requirements applied to these situations and brokers should check with the lender before submitting cases.
OSB, which includes Interbay Commercial, added that all buy to let and residential pipeline cases where valuation fees have been paid, will be progressed in line with the lending policy in effect at the time of application.
This includes honouring the product the case was initially submitted on.
Again, OSB noted: “As expected in the current climate, there will be some additional underwriting checks needed, such as ensuring the client’s current circumstances are considered.
“However as long as these requirements are met, the original application will be able to progress.”
OneSavings Bank managing director Alan Cleary (pictured) said he was fully aware how important it was to a broker and their customer that when they paid a fee for a product, they had the confidence that their transaction will be honoured.
“We’re in a position that we can move forward as a group and help brokers develop their business as well as ensure they can continue to service their existing customers,” he said.
“We’ll work on cases in date order but ask that brokers please bear with us as we’re working in exceptional circumstance at reduced capacity.
“Our broker partners have my personal assurance that we’ll get to them to discuss their client’s needs and will uphold existing arrangements subject to underwriting,” he added.
OSB extends offering but warns market will not return to normal overnight
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.
OSB has gradually been rolling out desktop valuations among the brands since the coronavirus crisis hit and applying these to its pipeline as well.
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.
Kent Reliance and Precise increase LTVs to 70 per cent
The lenders, which are both part of One Savings Bank (OSB), have increased the maximum loan size and maximum property value they will accept to £525,000 and £750,000 respectively.
OSB also published its first quarter results which showed it completed a combined £1.5bn of mortgage lending between January and March.
It noted that take-up levels of mortgage payment holidays have been high with around 24,000 borrowers accounting for 27 per cent of its book by value taking a pause.
However, it added that many people requesting payment holidays were doing so “to prudently safeguard cashflow” and that demand has dropped significantly since the initial surge.
And market research among buy-to-let landlords conducted on behalf of OSB indicates that rents are still being received, with only 12-15 per cent of landlords who have requested a payment holiday giving the reason as tenants having stopped paying rent.
Continuing product extensions
The product moves are the latest step as the lenders evolve their offerings after being forced to halt lending in March as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
Last month they recommenced lending up to a maximum 60 per cent LTV on property values between £75,000 and £600,000 a maximum loan size of £360,000.
Earlier this week Precise relaunched its bridging and second charge mortgage ranges supported by automated valuation models (AVMs) at up to 50 per cent LTV.
And yesterday Interbay Commercial resumed buy-to-let lending with a range of products using desktop valuations up to 70 per cent LTV.
The lenders noted that for brokers already with eligible pipeline cases at pre-offer stage, they may be able to switch the product if desired.
They will also consider reducing loan amounts on existing applications to meet the 70 per cent LTV limit.
When switching a product, any fees that can be refunded will be done so when the application reaches formal offer.
Supporting pipeline cases
OSB managing director Alan Cleary (pictured) said the lender’s teams had been working hard to ensure they had the infrastructure in place to best support broker partners and their customers.
“During this time we have focused our resource on supporting pipeline cases first before opening up for new business across our various product lines,” he said.
“The great news is that from today, Precise Mortgages, Kent Reliance for Intermediaries and InterBay Commercial are officially resuming business and taking on new cases.
“Our broker relationships remain absolutely key and we’re committed to continuing to provide specialist lending solutions during these challenging times.”
OSB CEO Andy Golding added that he was extremely proud of the resilience the firm had demonstrated in the current difficult conditions.
“We entered the crisis with exceptionally strong capital and liquidity positions which allowed us to rapidly assist those concerned about potential financial difficulty by offering payment holidays on a self-certified basis,” he said.
“We demonstrated our flexibility by redeploying our employees to meet the large increase in call volumes.
“We started the year with a strong pipeline of new business and continue to lend to new and existing customers, prudently and with a reduced suite of products. We have enhanced our underwriting to accept desktop valuations due to the inability to perform physical valuations at present.”