This week we’re asking brokers what three things they’d like to change about the mortgage journey to make it quicker and slicker for them and their clients.
Simon Checkley, managing director at Private Finance, says quicker, efficient and more direct lender communication combined with greater use of technology across the industry would help to smooth the process considerably.
Matt Sutton, managing director, Emerald Finance, names positive government intervention as a way to inject activity in the housing market amid a backdrop of uncertainty, adding that lenders should work on improved underwriting and making automated valuations the norm.
Chris Schutrups, group managing director, The Mortgage Hut Group, says technology, the customer experience, and better engagement between brokers and lenders would all benefit the end consumer.
The debate between brokers and lenders over who is to blame for delays in the mortgage application process is one that has been around since the dawn of the intermediary market and I doubt it will be resolved any time soon. Lenders will always find fault with brokers and vice versa. However, while some gripes are somewhat petty I do believe there are some significant issues in the lender sector which, if addressed, could have a considerable impact on the customer journey when applying for a mortgage.
There is a clear shortage of staff manning the phone lines at many lenders. Being kept waiting for 20 or 30 minutes is not just inconvenient, it’s downright ridiculous. The amount of productivity which is wasted because brokers are sat on the end of the phone waiting for assistance is preposterous if not approaching contemptuous.
Secondly, once a case has been received by a lender there must be shorter, more direct lines of communication between the broker and the decision maker if queries arise. Efficiency seems to go out of the window at this point in many cases and trying to explain to a client why there is a delay in a decision being made is difficult to say the least.
Thirdly, and this is an issue for the market as a whole and certainly not directed at lenders alone – there needs to be greater integration of, and use of, technologies. Despite ‘threats’ of robo-advice and the arrival of the digital age the mortgage market seems to be seriously lagging behind other sectors when it comes to technology. From CRMs and sourcing to lenders’ submission systems and ongoing client management, there is a definite need for greater assimilation of technologies across the entire mortgage market.
Discussions on such matters is surely taking place within the industry but, it seems, due to the high stakes involved, it’s happening behind closed doors.
Indeed, the dearth of dialogue between all parties is another factor which, if addressed, could make the mortgage application process run much more smoothly – if I may be so bold as to have a fourth suggestion!
Post-Brexit and following changes to stamp duty taxation the property market has faltered; there is a distinct lack of property supply with a glut of hopeful home buyers with decisions in principle at the ready, but have been unable to find a home for months on end as estate agents scratch around for new stock. A potential two years of cautious sellers will impact negatively on the market as a whole and the government needs to take steps to stimulate the market and get people moving. Measures to increase taxes for overseas investors to protect the resident buyer, revisiting stamp duty for buy to let and continued support for homebuilders with government led incentives would not go amiss.
Nothing is more frustrating and time consuming than going back to a client a third, fourth or fifth time for more documentation as the lender moves in a drip feed fashion. Improved underwriting at the early stages of the process is vital with a more comprehensive, ideally single, request for client documents and requirements post-DIP to reduce client frustration and speed up time to offer.
If lenders across the board would give the client an option to have an automated valuation as opposed to a physical one for all properties at a defined loan-to-value, this would improve speed to offer and reduce the workload and inevitable time delay where surveyors are physically visiting a property. This won’t fit all but would significantly speed up the process.
Technology is a key part of the customer journey – it speeds up the process and allows for a much more efficient experience for customers. At The Mortgage Hut we are investing heavily in new technology, through our partnership with Mortgage Advice Bureau, for the benefit of customers, pioneering a relationship management software tool.
It is great to see most lenders able to upload documents and allow them to be completed online rather than by post – some are not quite there yet and I would like to see them speed up this next step in their process. It really speeds the process up for the benefit of customers.
Social media and the internet enables us to interact directly with our customers – using social media we reach more than 300,000 people every week generating 60% of our leads from engaging customers online.
Putting customer experience at the core of what you do is critical from a consumer point of view. Standing out from the crowd, really shining in everything you do to develop your customer experience is essential today. No longer can you be average. Have good marketing and branding and above all be focused on the outcome for the customer.
Better lender relations and engagement between brokers and lenders inevitably leads to a better understanding of customer needs. People today are working later in life while others are retired for longer, and yet we still have people ending up as mortgage prisoners because lenders or brokers have not made the effort to understand the customers’ needs. As more and more goes online and there is a greater need for specialist advice it is the brokers and lenders who really understand their customers that will shine.