Processes have been put in place for either eventuality for over a year but with transactions levels still higher than normal and people prioritising health, having a stable working pattern may not solve any delays seen since the start of the pandemic.
So this week, Mortgage Solutions is asking: Have you noticed any change in the consistency of service since firms decided on working practices?
In an industry which deals with such personal and aspirational matters such as organising a client’s property finance, you really can’t undervalue the importance of face-to-face contact and collaboration.
Despite the market’s ability to adapt to remote working during the pandemic, it is a welcome relief to be back in the office, building rapport and having direct conversations both internally with our teams and our wider network of professionals again.
There are still delays in snags in areas, but we have noted that these are tending to arise from issues not related to working from home as it was during the height of the pandemic.
Rather, any delays are derived from certain lenders with market-leading rates – or those who handle more complicated business – struggling to cope with admin and the sheer level of business coming across their table in light of rates being at an all-time low.
For now, our focus at LDNfinance is to continually improve efficiency internally and ensure we are a well-oiled machine that has the flexibility and resources to overcome any potential threats to our consistency of service.
The learnings from the last 18 months have been invaluable and we have been sure to apply them to our business in order to improve our service moving forward.
As such, we have now moved into a bigger, more cooperative working space which will help aid our commitment to our team’s training and career development. Our new office has lots of rooms that we didn’t have before, from large team meeting rooms to training spaces, dedicated to upskilling LDN’s advisers to ensure their market knowledge is second-to-none and their service excellence, unsurpassed.
With different businesses implementing different rules for their staff, we are seeing a discrepancy in the level of service the banks are providing to our customers.
Barclays have been surprisingly quick of late, being able to produce an offer within seven working days last week.
At the same time, we are seeing both Santander and Shawbrook Bank taking 10 working days to assess documentation.
NatWest have recently emailed all brokers that they are making changes to their buy-to-let process to speed up their application process.
We’ve also had one packager have a positive Covid-19 test, meaning the whole office had to work from home, slowing down their service.
Surveys have also been an issue, with one simple buy-to-let application with a bank that was submitted on 2 July, yet the physical valuation was booked in for 13 August.
We are making all our clients aware that waiting times will be longer and we’re doing everything we can to help speed up their applications.
Now that the Euros and Olympics have finished, we hope to see service return to an acceptable level, especially when the schools reopen in September.
Some lender’s service levels are still better than others, but I think as we have moved through Covid and the changes to working patterns, generally that’s improved.
To be fair to the lenders, they’ve had to adjust to what is happening with people’s financial situations and employment. As that becomes clearer, service has got better.
Some lenders have adapted quicker than others but that’s usually the case anyway. Especially with furlough and self-employed income, those cases take longer to assess.
There isn’t a huge difference between those who had adapted to hybrid or working from home models compared to those who have returned to the office.
Overall, it’s better across the board but there is still room for improvement. Nothing has changed drastically since restrictions were fully lifted on 19 July.
Some valuations are still delayed, but I think that’s down to the volume of transactions and the holiday period.
Solicitors have been the worst at adapting, I don’t understand that this far in they’re still blaming delays on people working from home. We’ve got the technology in place, so the excuses only go so far.
A solicitor I spoke to said the volume of business took them by surprise. He said they just didn’t have the staff available. But at the same time, it was difficult to say how long that was going to last and if it was worth taking on more employees, just in case the market slowed down and they didn’t know what to do with them.
Service in general has been pretty poor with solicitors.
It’s been a big learning curve for us all as an industry, and as we come through more practices should be put in place to make things better and help us to embrace technology more.