Landlords who want to make the most of the recent cut in Stamp Duty are facing a ‘race against time’, as lenders hike buy-to-let mortgage rates and as the whole property market struggles to operate efficiently in the Covid crisis, according to Property Master, the online buy-to-let mortgage broker.
Property Master has reported that the buy-to-let market is seeing increased processing, response and hold times for nearly all lenders. One lender increased its underwriting time from five days to three weeks and suspended its telephone lines. Another has average on hold times of 40 mins+ and product transfers cannot now be tracked online.
One lender is now taking at least three days to respond to enquiries whilst others are yet to respond to emails and chasers sent over two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Property Master said that one lender who gives a 10-day mortgage offer guarantee is not yet underwriting within 10 days. Another is taking 10 days for a case to be looked at by an underwriter.
Solicitors have also stated searches are taking two weeks longer than usual.
Angus Stewart, chief executive of Property Master, said: “Major lenders such as Barclays and NatWest have just announced big price increases on their buy-to-let mortgage ranges – up to 0.7%. Whilst we have seen price increases and product withdrawals before as lenders seek to manage the demand caused by the Stamp Duty cut, these new rises suggest lenders may now also be concerned about the worsening economic situation.
“As well as price rises, we are seeing severe delays generally with lenders sometimes taking weeks to respond to enquiries. There is a similar story with many solicitors. We have to remember with employees working from home and in some cases self-isolating the property market generally is struggling to keep up with demand. If these delays continue, completing house purchases in time for the end of the Stamp Duty cut in March is going to be a race against time for many landlords.
“More worryingly still we are seeing is valuers undervaluing properties and, in some instances, returning a £0 valuation on properties that we would not have expected to present a problem. We have even seen this happen on properties that we know would have been acceptable to the lender but when we’ve stepped in and challenged the valuer’s decision the lender has been unwilling to overturn what the valuer has said.”