Firing lineNov 27 2019

'People are taking loans for longer to make affordability fit'

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'People are taking loans for longer to make affordability fit'

Masthaven, he says, tries to find solutions for people who have been turned away from the High Street, usually because the credit score turned them down. This could be because they may have been slightly late with a credit card payment, and there is a “blip” on their credit score.

“Does that mean they should get turned down for a mortgage?” he asks.

“We do lend to people with blips on their credit file, but we have to be careful about [the label] ‘sub-prime’.

“There is an increase in credit issues, but the average size of a county court judgment has come down significantly. It was £3,800; it’s now £1,400. People are taking action earlier.”

‘Unusual’ clients

Masthaven does not use a conventional credit score, but does look at credit history, such as repayments, time in employment and how many times a person might have moved house.

Also it might look more closely at an individual’s circumstances; if they are a bit unusual, the High Street automatically turns that person away, simply because they do not fit the mould.

For example, the self-employed often find it difficult to get a mortgage, and many lenders ask for three years’ accounts.

Masthaven asks for 18 months, and might take certain things into account. For example, an entrepreneur may be making a lot of profit, and ploughing that back into the business, instead of paying him or herself a dividend.

The High Street may simply see that as the businessperson not making much money, whereas Masthaven will look more closely at the accounts, says Mr Barnard.

Another big impact on the housing market is the greater need for affordability checks when people take out a loan, following the Financial Conduct Authority’s Mortgage Market Review.

Partly as a consequence of this, people are now taking out much longer mortgages.

He says: “When you took your first mortgage out, it was 25 years and there was no choice. Now mortgagae terms are 35 or 40 years, people are taking loans for longer to make affordability fit.”

Mr Barnard sees himself as a salesman primarily, and one of the ways he engages people at the outset is his quirky hobbies.

He grows giant vegetables and enters shows for his giant flowers and carrots. He is show secretary at the local flower show, and has won awards.

For his clients it is a way to make him seem more human and understanding of unconventional people trying to get a mortgage.

Melanie Tringham is features editor of Financial Adviser and FTAdviser