However, heightened demand continues to put pressure on the sector so although every firm may mean well, there may still be hold ups across the market.
So, this week, Mortgage Solutions is asking: Have you noticed a decline or improvement in processing delays or is it roughly the same since the reopening of the property market?
Everything is taking ages.
The volume of customer enquiries has increased at the same time as broker workload, and business development managers who were off on furlough have mostly now returned with their phones ringing off the hook, meaning most brokers take longer to get cases placed and packaged.
Lenders have been swamped with business at the same time as ripping up their criteria and underwriting policy, added for some, to work from home productivity issues.
Conveyancing firms have faced the same concerns, exaggerating issues that have always been there – a dump of business can turn a great service bad, almost overnight.
The speed of the increase is often the biggest problem, as people-centric processes are near impossible to scale at the rate needed.
Especially with the number of moving parts, such as delays with surveys – some reporting five-year highs and delays of more than 30 days, searches taking 20 to 40 days in certain areas, and mortgage paperwork, all weighing more pressure on an already fraught turnaround time.
We’ve seen a few examples that show this improving, but one thing is for certain, ever the optimist – it’s not all bad.
I’ve found myself saying this a lot recently – you need a crisis to drive change, and businesses across the whole property sector are having to find innovative ways of keeping up and staying safe.
A new, revived, and more productive market is quietly stitching itself together under the surface, and it’s only a matter of time before we see some breakthrough big wins.
Many solicitors are still working from home, and many have limited access to online management systems, so processing applications is taking much longer than normal.
The impact of the stamp duty relief and the Help to Buy scheme in its current form ending at the end of March 2021 has caused bottlenecks with cases – case opening times are subsequently being delayed.
So we are advising clients to select solicitors that have capacity to take on board any new cases in this climate and set expectations early with clients.
With regards to the free legals provided by lenders for remortgage cases, we are noticing, more often now than ever, panelled solicitors changing frequently with lenders and other companies being preferred.
We believe it is down to overcapacity for the previously panelled solicitors so lenders are looking at alternatives. The feedback so far from our clients is all seems to be working okay, which is a positive.
We also use broker conveyancing portals to obtain quotes for clients that need it, and we are seeing more ‘red light – near capacity’ warning signs for the conveyancers who are quoting competitively.
In some cases, we are seeing solicitors increasing their prices to ward off new business – similar to lenders’ actions of hokey cokey in the market; one minute being active and interested, then the next minute withdrawing and not able to assist.
I believe this is down to under capacity and over demand.
We have noticed a significant decline in conveyancing capabilities.
We understand that everyone is stretched and service isn’t quite where it should be, but conveyancers who are usually very reliable have been causing problems.
I have one specific case with a lender that is in a three-week queue to be assessed by an underwriter. The only way to get the case escalated is for the conveyancer to contact the lender and request an escalation.
The conveyancer in question has taken two weeks to let the clients and myself know that they won’t call the bank as the queues are over an hour. I’m still waiting for them to write a letter on headed paper for me to forward to the lender on their behalf.
Away from conveyancing issues, there are no other specific problems I have faced. We’re seeing a lot more automated valuations which actually speed up the process.
In all honesty, every single application feels like a battle from start to finish currently and I don’t know how anyone would be able to get a mortgage in the current market without the help of a broker.