Letter: Computer says yes, underwriter says no

Nick Walker

Unfortunately, gone are the days when you could have a sensible, in-depth discussion with an underwriter where specific individual and relevant detail could be examined in order to establish affordability.

In telephoning to discuss

a case with an ‘underwriter’ lenders will often say: “If it fits the affordability calculator and passes the credit score, it’s fine.” Well, in my experience, it usually is not fine. We had a mortgage going through with Nationwide and all looked straightforward. The first-time borrowers, both with 999 Experian scores, wanted an 85 per cent mortgage of £234,000. Using the online affordability calculator to input all their relevant information, the figure was coming out quite precisely at £240,900. We submitted the application, committed the clients to an application fee, a footprint was stamped on their credit file and a not inconsiderable amount of work was carried out by us.

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We then get a call from the underwriters, advising that they have determined that the maximum amount that can be advanced is £222,000. I ask the underwriters to input the details into the affordability calculator to check the figures. They establish the same figure of £240,900. I then ask: “Why is the £234,000 not available”. The answer I get is: “I’m sorry, that’s what we feel is the maximum available.”

Nationwide is not alone – many lenders have detailed affordability calculators

coupled with overzealous ‘underwriters’ who are

petrified of making decisions and are strangely off limits when it comes to giving

reasons for declinature.

Nick Walker


Focus Independent Financial Advisers,


Right to reply

Nationwide declined an invitation to respond to this letter.