NatWest, Nationwide, TMW and Precise resume Scotland cases as valuations restart

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

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.


Still relevant

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

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.


Pipeline 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.”


Exceptional circumstances

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 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.


Pipeline cases

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

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.”



Precise relaunches bridging and second charge mortgages

Precise relaunches bridging and second charge mortgages


Each range is available up to 50 per cent loan to value (LTV).

In a message posted on its website today, Precise said: “Following government restrictions introduced to prevent the spread of Covid-19, we’ve been busy working on solutions for you and your customers while physical property inspections remain unavailable.

“We’re pleased to launch a set of products using AVMs for bridging finance and second charge loan applications.”

It asked brokers to understand that the lengthier process may result in cases taking longer to progress than normal.

Once the valuation has been reviewed by the underwriter and they are happy to proceed the case will be processed in the usual manner.

Valuation challenges cannot be accepted and the underwriter’s decision will be final, Precise added.

Last month Precise and its sister lender Kent Reliance recommenced residential and buy-to-let lending.

The pair stopped accepting new applications and put all cases which had not yet progressed to offer on hold at the end of March as a result of the coronavirus crisis.



The bridging products are available for regulated and non-regulated applications in England, Wales and Scotland, for standard bridging only, not refurbishments.

The minimum loan size is £50,000 with the maximum at £375,000, while the minimum property value is £75,000 and the maximum is £750,000.

Rates are 0.54 per cent per month for net loan size less than £200,000, and 0.49 per cent for net loan size of £200,000 or more. A facility fee of two per cent applies to all transactions.

For already submitted applications at pre-offer stage, if the property is eligible for an AVM Precise will run the AVM to see if it is successful to enable the application to proceed.

Brokers should contact the lender if they have a pre-offer pipeline application over 50 per cent LTV and their client would like to reduce the loan amount to enable switching onto a new product.

All paperwork will need to be received before the AVM can be conducted.

Due to the unavailability of physical valuations, several property types are excluded. They are:


Second charge

Second charge loans are available for any purpose in England and Wales, with a minimum loan size of £10,000 and maximum of £200,000. Properties must be worth at least £75,000 and up to £750,000.

A two-year fix is available at 4.25 per cent and the five-year fix is 4.65 per cent – both have a £300 product fee, no early repayment charge and a 4.35 per cent reversion rate.

No defaults, county court judgements, mortgage or secured arrears are permitted in the last 12 months.

Unsecured arrears are not counted but may affect the borrower’s credit score, Precise noted, but bankruptcies, individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) and debt management plans (DMPs) are not accepted.

It added that it may be possible to switch submitted applications at pre-offer stage with eligible properties to a new product and continue processing.

“If, after you’ve discussed suitability with your customer, you consider the product is appropriate, we’ll switch your application to a new product and request any outstanding documentation which you should provide as soon as possible,” Precise said.

Brokers should contact the lender if they have a pre-offer pipeline application over 50 per cent LTV and their client would like to reduce the loan amount to enable switching onto a new product.


Again, due to the unavailability of physical valuations, applications for some properties are excluded. These are:



MT Finance appoints Rory Cleary as London BDM

MT Finance appoints Rory Cleary as London BDM


He joins from Precise Mortgages, where he was business development manager for almost four years.

Prior to this, Cleary has been a mortgage adviser at both Barclays and HSBC.

Working alongside the company’s existing team of BDMs, he will be responsible for building and maintaining relationships with brokers.

The lender said the appointment marks the next step in its market expansion strategy and follows the appointment of Chris Parr as BDM for Midlands and the North earlier this month.

Cleary said: “I am absolutely chuffed to be joining the team at MT finance.

“What the company has achieved over the last decade is merit worthy in itself but how the company has conducted its business is what truly set them apart for me.

“I can’t think of a lender that radiates a culture of team-work from the inside out quite like MT Finance and I feel enormously privileged to now be a part of that.”

Gareth Lewis, commercial director, added: “We are dedicated to continuing our support of the broker community, and Rory is an excellent addition to our business development team.

“He brings a great knowledge of both the bridging and specialist mortgage market; I’m sure brokers will welcome his support.”

Precise and Kent Reliance restart lending with product launch

Precise and Kent Reliance restart lending with product launch


The pair stopped accepting new applications and put all cases which had not yet progressed to offer on hold at the end of March as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

However the lenders, which merged last year, have now launched offerings up to a maximum 60 per cent loan to value (LTV) by utilising desktop valuations.

No assessment or valuation fees are being applied, property values between £75,000 and £600,000 are eligible with a maximum loan size of £360,000.

The lenders will allow applicants whose cases are on hold to transfer to the new products where the criteria fit and advisers and clients agree it is suitable.

This can include reducing the loan to value amount on the application.



Certain property types are excluded and these include:

Both lenders added that brokers should contact business development mangers with questions.


Reviewed by underwriters

Documentation from the lenders’ websites said: “We can now accept desktop valuations for new and existing cases that are in line with our current criteria, and the new criteria listed within this document.

“Desktop valuations will be reviewed internally once they have completed. Please note that this may result in cases taking longer than normal to progress, so please bear with us during this time.

“Once the valuation has been reviewed by the underwriter and they’re happy to proceed, the case will be processed in the usual manner.

“Due to the nature of desktop valuations, we’re unable to accept any valuation challenges, and the underwriter’s decision will be final,” it added.


OSB and Precise stop new apps and halt pre-offer cases

OSB and Precise stop new apps and halt pre-offer cases


The lenders, which merged last year, made the changes at the end of Friday as a result of the impact of the coronavirus.

The changes apply to OSB’s Kent Reliance and InterBay brands, along with Precise Mortgages.

Messages on all three lender websites noted that access to online application systems would be removed from Friday 27.

Applications that have not progressed to offer will be paused and placed on hold until further notice. Offered cases will continue as normal.

Offer extensions will be considered where the case is a residential owner occupier case, contracts have exchanged prior to 25 March and the borrower’s circumstances must not have deteriorated.

Pre-offer cases which have either received a valuation or not yet had one conducted will be put on hold and the lenders said they will let brokers know when they can begin to process the case.

Valuation and Assessment fees will be refunded if the case is cancelled and the valuation has not been completed.

Cases at offer stage will be completed, however, customers whose circumstances have changed should notify the lenders before completion.


‘Support our borrowers’

“Due to the unprecedented demand from our existing customers regarding payment holidays, latest government advice and the current situation with valuations, we have taken the decision to temporarily suspend new applications for all of our product lines and divert our resources to support our borrowers during this challenging time,” the lender websites explained.

Brokers with concerns about cases with the lenders should contact them using the email addresses supplied on the lender websites.


OSB and Foundation update HMO and complex BTL ranges – round up

OSB and Foundation update HMO and complex BTL ranges – round up


Each of OneSavings Bank’s mortgage brands will focus on a different size HMO by bedrooms.

Precise Mortgages will accept applications with up to six bedrooms, Kent Reliance for Intermediaries will consider applications with up to eight bedrooms. Larger HMOs will be reviewed on a case by case basis. InterBay Commercial will accept any size HMO with no limit on the number of bedrooms.

The group recently introduced new valuation fee scales and lending based on investment values.

Alan Cleary (pictured), group managing director, mortgages, OneSavings Bank, said: “Ultimately for brokers, these changes ensure that their HMO cases will be directed to the specialist teams that are best placed to handle them, regardless of size or complexity.

“Whether the cases involve investment valuations, large loan sizes or even complex company structures, we have the expertise within the OneSavings Bank group to consider every case.”

Specialist buy-to-let lender Foundation Home Loans has relaunched its product range to include new deals, cuts to product fees and the extension of all deal end dates.

All two-year fixed-rate mortgages have had their product fees halved to one per cent, while Foundation has also reduced the fee on its buy-to-let five-year remortgage by £500 down to £2,495.

The lender has also launched a new five-year fix at 80 per cent loan to value within its F1 tier for borrowers with a near-perfect credit record. The deal is priced at 4.24 per cent with a flat product fee of £1,995.

The new range covers all Foundation’s individual and limited company products as well as its HMO range, it’s large loan HMO/multi-unit block range and its products for short-term let properties.

There is also a number of products for portfolio landlord borrowers requiring ‘low loans’ with a minimum loan size of £30,000, rather than £50,000.

End dates for all products have also changed, with two-year deals going up to the end of July 2022, and five-year deals going up to the end of July 2025.

Foundation said the new range responds to an increase in demand for two-year rates. It also allows the lender to offer an increased range of product options to landlord borrowers, particularly those seeking finance within a limited company structure or wanting to acquire/refinance more complex properties such as HMOs, multi-unit blocks and short-term lets.