At the start of this year, mortgage lenders could not have foreseen Covid-19.
As a result of the lockdown, the mortgage market in the UK all but closed to new business. With everyone working from home, lenders have been trying to maintain a good level of service as close to how things were at the start of the year.
But broker reaction to the service provided by mortgage lenders has been mixed; this, no doubt, will be reflected in the star ratings given to lenders in this year’s Financial Adviser Service Awards.
Carl Shave, director at Just Mortgage Brokers, said: “Lenders have had to put their resources where it is needed, which means taking away from other areas.
“They have had a huge amount to deal with, especially in terms of staff resources. Their staff are impacted by the effects of coronavirus.
“They will have been down on staff numbers at a time when they have a had a lot of enquiries about mortgage holidays.”
Alan Lakey, director at Highclere Financial Services, added: “It has been a trying time. Fewer people are working and those who are working, you cannot get hold of so easily.”
Lender Nationwide said that when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, it mobilised teams of colleagues to look at how it could support brokers, members and applicants.
It continues to offer a service via telephone and broker chat, adding that service levels and timescales are nearly back at pre-Covid-19 levels. Also, every broker across the country has the ongoing support of a business development manager.
Traditionally, Nationwide had managed requests for payment holidays over the phone, but to meet the demand it had to look at a more automated solution and has recently announced a five-point home support package to offer further support to borrowers and landlords. This includes an additional three-month payment break and a commitment to not repossess any homes over the next 12 months.
Ian Andrew, director of intermediary relationships at Nationwide, said: “In these unprecedented times, many people are pausing their house purchase, which is why we moved to extend our mortgage offers by 90 days for applicants whose circumstances haven’t changed materially.
“However, we are continuing to accept new business [including new build] up to 85 per cent through brokers and honour pipeline applications.
“The society has increasingly made use of automated valuation models and desktop valuations and has been using new processes to assist desktop valuations, collecting internal pictures of the properties provided by the applicant, tenant or vendor. We are now doing physical valuations and are on track to clear our backlog within published timescales.”
Santander has maintained its mortgage service during the pandemic, with branch advisers, telephone and intermediary teams giving support throughout; with its online mortgage services available for customers to use 24 hours a day, seven days a week.