This week the mystery shopper visits Hove.
The shopper is trying to buy a one bed property worth £250,000. She has a deposit worth £40,000 saved up and is on a salary of £45,000. The shopper already owns a place in Belgium and is trying to find out how much stamp duty she would have to pay and whether she can afford the property if she pays higher stamp duty.
Each week the mystery shopper seeks advice from independent advisers in the UK.
The aim is to find out whether advisers are delivering the goods when it comes to the all-important initial telephone contact between client and adviser. It is only intended to evaluate this first interview, and it is understood that further meetings would be necessary before final decisions could be made. The purpose is not to expose poor selling practices, but to show constructively any weaknesses in the advice process.
Adviser: Brighton and Hove Financial Consultants (independent)
Address: Ground Floor Front Office, 60 Lansdowne Place, Hove BN3 1FG
Speed: The shopper was transferred to the mortgage broker after about eight rings at 3.22pm. 4/5
Telephone manner: The mortgage adviser was friendly and showed patience in explaining all the various tax bands to the shopper. 5/5
Qualifications: CeMap. 5/5
Payment method: The broker said that the advice company is paid a commission by the lender, but suggested that a further £500 fee may be levied “if the commission is not enough”. 5/5
Guidance: The mortgage broker explained that while the shopper would have typically faced no stamp duty (as properties under £300,000 are exempt of stamp duty), he said the shopper will still have to pay £2,500, because it would be her second property. He said the shopper will probably be able to borrow £210,000 and may be short of about £8,500, depending on whether she sells the Belgian property.4/5
Knowledgeable: The broker demonstrated a very good understanding of how stamp duty works. 5/5
Email: email@example.com. 5/5
Adviser: Mortgage Medics (independent)
Address: 353 Portland Road, Hove BN3 5SF
Speed: The adviser picked up immediately after two rings at 3.40pm. 5/5
Telephone manner: This mortgage adviser was exceptionally friendly and interested in helping out. 5/5
Qualifications: CeMap. 5/5
Payment method: The mortgage broker said a fee of £399 will be levied at the point of application. 5/5
Guidance: The mortgage adviser told the shopper that she will be liable for a higher stamp duty. He told the shopper that she can go to www.stampduty.org to confirm his calculations, but he said the stamp duty faced will be £10,000 assuming the shopper retains the Belgian home. The broker added that the shopper may be able to borrow about 4.75 times her salary. That will leave the shopper with a shortfall of a few thousand pounds. He warned the shopper that many lenders require a larger deposit of 10-20 per cent when purchasing a new build. 4/5