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Lockdown Question Time

Lockdown
Question Time

We looked in on the team to see what life in Lockdown looks like to them and how they think the mortgage market has adapted

The Buy to Let Broker Lockdown Team

Since the UK Lockdown began on March 23, our team have continued to help landlords nationwide from the safety of their home via our in-house specialist platforms and remote working.

Champions of service, they have all risen to the challenge incredibly. We thought it was time to catch up with some of them to see how life in lockdown is treating them, who needs a haircut and what they are all missing most. 

Matt Hardman Co-Director

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

  • Initially seeing the market that we trade in go through so much upheaval and be forced to take backward steps with the business, plus having to let some clients down (for now at least).  Having to make tough decisions for the good of the business as a result of these hard-hitting changes.  Seeing advisers and clients being hampered by the market, as well as case managers being weighted down by so many case requirements and COVID questionnaires.  I also think it’s very hard to keep everyone buoyant and their mental health in good shape, but the team has all done incredibly well-considering everything.

What are you most proud of during lockdown?

  • I’m very proud of our team, to keep writing business when the odds are stacked against us is incredible.  Completing 33 cases in a day at the start of May was a highlight for the business, being agile enough to switch the model to writing business which helps our landlords and keeps the wheels turning.  Seeing how the team have pulled together in pursuit of client goals, knuckled down, got on with it and adapted so well makes me proud.  It’s also given us a chance as a business to incept some future potential expansion plans and also ‘sharpen our pencils’ across the board digitally.

In respect of how lenders/conveyancers have adapted policies and/or procedures during COVID, which changes have most assisted your clients’ journey, and which would you hope lenders retain post lockdown

  • For the most part, the mortgage community has displayed resilience and spirit that we should all be proud of, sharing ideas, problems and solutions. I have enjoyed the weekly conversations with our peers, both with our industry leaders and with our friends and colleagues at the various lenders/conveyancers, and the perceptible desire to support each other has been wonderful. Indeed, our key industry relationships have been invaluable in such difficult times.

What are you missing the most?

  • The galvanic atmosphere of the office, and being able to provide the level of support to the team that is sometimes challenging to provide remotely.
Matthew Rowne Co-Director
Angela Blakesley Mortgage Broker

Which element of the market do you think has been impacted the most?

  • Purchases would be an obvious answer. Although, having said that, we have had offers coming through for purchases with lenders looking to use automated or remote valuation models. It’s true that some things can’t be done or is restricted but there is a lot we can do so I have been urging clients to speak to me about anything new they have in mind.

If you could teleport anywhere right now, where would you go?

  • To 2021 – when hopefully we can see friends and family and life may have returned to a better version of normal.

In a COVID free world, what would be the first thing that you would do?

  • Drive down to Wolverhampton to see my nan, haven’t seen her for 6 whole months!

What are you most proud of during lockdown?

  • Getting some of the speediest turnarounds on submissions to offer we’ve ever seen.  2 days on a BTL Remo, 1.5 days on a residential purchase!

What has been the biggest positive so far?

  • My garden has never looked better and my house has never been cleaner!  Due to fewer outgoings, I’ve also managed to get some loans and credit cards paid off sooner than expected.
Fran Bradshaw Senior Technical Case Manager
Sarah Mason Team Leader

What has been the biggest positive so far?

  • Remaining positive and happy, and helping out others where I can – for example dropping off shopping to people who cannot get out. The only time knocking on a door and running away is acceptable.

Which lender has impressed you most during Lockdown?

  • BM Solutions – the cases I’ve worked on have all had successful desktop valuations – and have been offered in a matter of days!

Which mortgage mate do you miss the most?

  • Dolly for the lunchtime walks, oh and Fiona telling everyone to get out of the shared spreadsheets!

What is your best tip for landlords right now?

  • Don’t apply for a mortgage holiday unless you absolutely have to and you are aware of the full picture in respect of the potential implications. We are seeing many landlords looking for refinance (especially when there is capital raising involved) being declined due to applying for payment holidays on background mortgages.

With the common consensus that property prices will decrease over the next year or so, this would be an opportune time to increase your portfolio with property at reduced prices. The last thing you need is to be declined for a mortgage based on a mortgage holiday you didn’t necessarily need.

In a COVID free world, what would be the first thing that you would do?

  • Have a jam! I’ve not properly strummed a guitar in anger since the lockdown (although the wife has banned me from playing indoors, apparently its tantamount to noise pollution).
Steve Walker Mortgage Broker
Duncan Winsland Mortgage Broker

Which lender has impressed you most during Lockdown?

  •  It’s a difficult time to impress as most lenders lost capability and service standards were hit hard. HSBC managed to keep their product offerings and to continue to issue mortgage offers at a time when other lenders where imposing heavy restrictions. Not always been the easiest of lenders to deal with but it meant a lot to a few of my clients that we could still help them out when other doors had been slammed shut on them.

What new skill have you learnt during the lockdown?

  • Having remained busy in work I’ve not found myself searching for things to do. Skills I probably should have learned would be decorating the house!

What new skill have you learnt during the lockdown?

  • How to do two full-time jobs at once – looking after a demanding wife, a toddler and a 6-month-old baby is harder than this job!

In respect of how lenders/conveyancers have adapted policies and/or procedures during COVID, which changes have most assisted your clients’ journey, and which would you hope lenders retain post lockdown.

  • Desktop/automated valuations on low-risk BTL applications. We’ve had several remortgage applications that have been offered within 2 or 3 days without the hassle of arranging physical valuations with tenants/letting agents.
Nick Proud Case Manager
Matt Wright Mortgage Broker

What is your best tip for landlords right now?

  • Speak to us! There’s a lot of misinformation out there (Mortgage ‘holidays’ being the prime example) and it’s alright a broker being there for good times, but it’s times like these where a reasoned discussion is needed. It’s cheesy but certainly at the Buy to Let Broker we all have a genuine care for our clients. Certainly for myself and the other advisors here we’ve worked with a lot of our clients and been there to assist and grow their portfolio in a sustainable manner right from the start. Our job as advisors is to not just be there to get the mortgage over the line but also there at times like these to advise and assist to weather the storm. Our director blogs are also a great read for those concerned.

If you could teleport anywhere right now, where would you go?

  • Lockdown or no Lockdown it would always be a tropical beach.

Which TV show have you binged on in the last few weeks?

  • The American Office – it has also given me some fun ideas for when we get back into our own office!

What has been the biggest positive so far?

  • Having the ability to work from home and keep my family safe and happy.

What have you enjoyed most about working from home?

  • It has saved me a few pounds in petrol, I might have to invest in a bike with the money saved.
Chris Leek Case Manager
Becky Cringle Case Manager

What new skill have you learnt during the lockdown?

  •  Not a new skill per se but I have improved my baking and dessert making skills. I’ve been perfecting my tiramisu … at the detriment of my partner & his colleagues’ waistlines!

What are you most proud of during lockdown?

  • How quickly the team has adapted to the current market and the fact that we have remained “open” for business as usual and continued to submit new mortgage applications and progress them!

Which TV show have you binged on in the last few weeks?

  • Desperate Housewives & Ozark.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

  • I would say the biggest challenge was getting valuations carried out during the initial lockdown stages, although we did see the lenders doing their best to keep applications moving with automated and desktop valuation.  Now that physical valuations are being booked in again, things will start to move forward on the more complex cases where automated and desktop valuations could not be used.

Which element of the market do you think has been impacted the most?

  • We have definitely seen fewer purchases during Lockdown, which was to be expected but this seems to be picking up again, I’m happily snowed under with quoting clients at the moment!
Rachel Fairclough Mortgage Broker
Adam Kipling Mortgage Broker

What is your best tip for landlords right now?

  • Wait for the right deal – but when you’ve found it, act swiftly and get the application in!

What are you missing the most?

  • The camaraderie of the office.

Which lender has impressed you most during Lockdown?

  • Paragon – a lender that truly understands the BTL market and was quick to change to AVMs/desktop valuations without compromising their proposition too greatly.

What has been the biggest positive so far?

  • Family time at home and daily walks in the fresh air and sunshine.

Which mortgage mate do you miss the most?

  • Everyone for different reasons…some more than others lol 🙂

In a COVID free world, what would be the first thing that you would do?

  • Have my roots done and my hair cut.
Fiona Rose Compliance and Support Manager
Dolly Draper Marketing Manager

If you could teleport anywhere right now, where would you go?

  • To the Lake District to see my bestie, and we’d go hiking and wild swimming like normal.

What are you missing the most?

  • All of the office banter, seeing friends at weekends and definitely going out for food. When Lockdown is over, the hairdressers can wait, I will be hitting the restaurants first.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

  • Predicting how the market will react. I rely heavily on data to try and make the best-informed decisions for the team and forecast trends before they arise but this is like nothing we have ever seen before.

We can’t wait to have everyone back in the office but for now, we will continue to offer contactless advice and support for wherever you are.

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If you need any advice on how to protect your portfolio during these uncertain times, we’re here to help. With expert advice, you can be confident that you get the best deals at the right time. You can speak to one of our mortgage advisors today, by calling us on 08009499410 or to make it even easier, if you let us know the best way to contact you below, we will respond as soon as possible.

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