Given the level of business and activity in the mortgage market over the past few months, it’s perhaps not surprising that advisers have grown in confidence, not just about the market in general but their own business’ position within it.
Recent analysis by IMLA showed that, during Q3, 94% of advisers said they were upbeat about the sector while 95% said they were either ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ confident about the future of their own business. That’s a significant step forward especially given what the situation was like from March through May.
Confidence however can often be a brittle commodity, and it’s therefore imperative that we all do everything we can to maintain it. Lenders are obviously in a strong position to deliver in this area, especially when all stakeholders are ‘watching the clock’ when it comes to the business we have and trying to do everything we can to help it complete before the end of March next year, in order to secure the stamp duty savings currently available to clients.
At the end of October Legal & General were suggesting that the 1st November marked something of a cut-off point for homeowners wishing to buy/sell, given that taking a property through to completion was taking on average four months. We are obviously beyond that date now, and the 1st December can be seen as another milestone date for applications to have been submitted to lenders, to have the best chance of completing by the deadline even though this cannot be guaranteed.
In that sense, I hope advisers agree that it makes sense to focus on doing all we can to get existing cases to offer as quickly as possible. With just under four months until the deadline – unless the Government announces an extension – we at Foundation recognise the timescales at play, and we have been looking at what we can specifically do to progress cases quickly.
To that end and to drive existing cases forward, we’ve tasked our regional account managers and internal BDMs with picking up on the outstanding ‘last task’ for pre-offer pipeline cases and working closely with the adviser in order to get that requirement in and move it forward. Generally, there only tends to be one document outstanding on a case and, having introduced additional resource from other business areas, we’re already finding we can vastly increase our offer turnaround time. In these last few weeks we have more than doubled our daily offer rate.
Also, by doing this, it means our underwriters only look at cases which have everything they require to make a decision to lend, which we believe can only aid advisers and their clients to get quick decisions and bring cases to offer as soon as possible.
And just to point out, this also means we are very much open for new business as well – indeed working these existing cases through the pipeline as quickly as possible, means we grow our capacity.
Advisers however should know that, when it comes to that new business, a case with all documents uploaded along with application and valuation fees paid, is going to find its path through our underwriting process a much smoother one. Indeed, if a case is submitted with partial information, then now is the time to lower your clients’ expectations on how soon they can expect an offer.
None of us are in a position to provide guarantees to clients that their transaction will complete by the 31st March next year – the process has many parts to it, and no one individual or firm is in charge of it all. Certain key tasks are beyond our control and while advisers, for example, will be able to chase, cajole and chivvy clients along, they can’t complete the work themselves. The same goes for lenders when cases move to conveyancers, for example.
So, what we can do is try to look after our own constituent parts and work through those as quickly as possible. In effect, it’s about ‘us’ not holding up the process – and that applies to the client as much as it does the adviser, lender, surveyor and conveyancer. There are no guarantees but if we all have a commitment to work efficiently, then we are giving the case the very best chance we can.
George Gee is commercial director at Foundation Home Loans