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Brokers back longer lender opening hours

Brokers back longer lender opening hours

Mortgage brokers have welcomed extended lender opening hours and called for the whole industry to follow the trailblazers to help them to process cases more easily.

Long telephone waiting times mean intermediaries can sometimes struggle to get the information they need from lenders, and extended opening times are seen as a potential solution to the problem.

Coventry Building Society recently extended its opening hours to 6pm after the lender announced it would pay procuration fees for buy-to-let product transfers – a move that was welcomed by Coventry-based broker Nick Green at Alternative Estates.

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“We tend have most of our appointments late in the afternoon, so if you see a client from 4pm to 4.30 and then need an answer on underwriting, you have the call the business development manager,” he said.

“But you can’t always get hold of them as everyone else is doing the same, and you sometimes need just to check a couple of questions before you submit the case so you then have to wait until the morning.

“I know it’s a little thing, but it means that you can finish off the case that evening rather than getting back into it the following day.

“Also, being able to pick up the phone and get updates once the phones go off at 5.30 is useful, as normally the best time for us to get the updates is late afternoon, and if you’re on to certain lenders who have long waiting times then there are only a couple of calls you can make.”

Oliver Marley, mortgage adviser and head of research at London-based Independent James, said longer opening hours would help to accommodate broker working patters.

“Brokers often spend the days out meeting with clients and then the evenings are spent preparing applications and calling banks,” he explained.

“I find myself often picking up the phone at 5.45pm trying to make a call and the lines are closed. The extra 30 minutes will be warmly welcomed here!”

A number of lenders are already open until 6pm or later, with some, such as Leeds Building Society and Skipton Building Society, open as late as 8pm during the week.

Robert Lewis, operations director at Mold-based Heritage Financial Solutions, added: “All our mortgage advisers work into the evenings. Pushing mortgage cases through can be a time-consuming effort, especially when many lenders now have an average waiting time of 20 mins to speak to someone - based on personal experience. 

“Having lines which are open to extended times would be really helpful, would give advisers more flexibility between admin and seeing clients. I would encourage more lenders to follow suit.”

simon.allin@ft.com