Feature: BTL lender ratings – a new top dog

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Panel members

Steve Walker, specialist in buy-to-let and housing, The Buy To Let Broker
Stephanie Daley, Technical Advisor, Alexander Hall
Marc Pattanshetti, Associate Director, Largemortgageloans.com
David Hollingworth, Associate Director of Communications, London & Country
Matt Tilbury, Senior Mortgage and Protection Advisor, Just Mortgages
Aaron Strut, Chief Product and Communications Officer, Trinity Financial
Sebastian Murphy, group manager,JLM Mortgage Services
Greg Cunnington, Director of Operations, LDNfinance
Dale Jannels, Managing Director, Impact Specialist Finance
Vincent Burch, Mortgage Manager, Vincent Burch Mortgage Services

Along with higher taxation and increased regulation, homeowners face higher mortgage costs. With owner and lender margins squeezed, brokers are feeling the pressure.

Which lenders come to their rescue and which add to the frustrations? Mortgage strategyThe latest buy-to-let (BTL) ratings reveal all.

Mortgages Accord (Wild card)

In an initial assessment of lenders, our Wild Card won first place.

“Accord has a market leading Sales and Business Development Manager [BDM] says Greg Cunnington, COO of LDNfinance. “A series of policy improvements this year have made it a more serious BTL lender.”

Dale Jannels, Managing Director of Impact Specialist Finance, is a fan of Accord’s “superb online product transfer system”.

Accord has an industry-leading sales and BDM team. A series of improvements this year have made it a more serious BTL lender

Alexander Hall Technical Advisor Stephanie Daley says the lender offers “fantastic BDM support and a great option for owners on a visa”. However, JLM Mortgage Services Group Director Sebastian Murphy finds his proposal may be ‘limited’ and ‘difficult to adapt’, with no limited liability company options.

Santander for Intermediates

Santander jumped two places to second place in the standings.

“Simple to use and the case updates look great,” says Jannels.

Matt Tilbury, Senior Mortgage and Protection Advisor at Just Mortgages, says: “Good affordability makes this something to watch.”

Buy To Let Broker specialist for buy-to-let and residential Steve Walker calls Santander’s “extremely generous” rental stress test a “big bonus” for brokers who have struggled to place low-yielding cases without raise elemental capital.

Simple to use and case updates look great

He adds, however, “This has now been changed to match the rest of the BTL vanilla market, which will likely see a reduction in business.”

Godiva Mortgages

It’s a fall from first place to third for Godiva.

“There may have been some IT issues, but overall Godiva’s performance has been good,” says London & Country communications director David Hollingworth.

He adds, “Competitive pricing and strong service numbers are what it’s all about, and consistency has real value in a volatile market.”

There may have been some computer issues, but overall Godiva performance has been good.

Largemortgageloans.com associate director Mark Pattanshetti praises the lender’s “efficient submission process and simple loan criteria”.

BM Solutions

BM Solutions loses a place and ranks fourth. Vincent Burch Mortgage Services Mortgage manager Vincent Burch says the lender can be difficult for wallet customers to navigate, but is “otherwise very fast.”

He is waiting for the launch of his products as a public limited company.

Trinity Financial Head of Product and Communications Aaron Strutt welcomes BM Solutions’ updated product transfer system.

Background rental stress testing could be more forgiving

“Our brokers love it,” he says, and Pattanshetti adds, “It’s one of the lowest prices and efficient underwriting with a free transfer of ownership proposal.”

Walker describes the lender as its first stop for five-bedroom multiple occupancy (HMO) homes on a single lease, but adds, “Its back-end rental stress testing could be more lenient.”

Barclays

It’s an impressive three-place climb for Barclays but opinions are divided.

“Great support with top slicing – very good overall,” says Tilbury, while Cunnington, also a fan of Barclays’ top slicing policy, adds: “They are a key BTL lender to the London and UK market. South East.”

Daley agrees and thinks his affordability model sets him apart, but Strutt says that due to Barclays’ insistence on more basic property information for slicing, he may be “more hard to do business with.

A key BTL lender for the London and South East market

Burch echoes this, saying Barclays is “still the hardest lender to work with”.

The Mortgage Works (nationwide)

TMW remains in sixth place in our table.

“He streamlined underwriting and consistent service levels,” says Pattanshetti. “Broker support is mainly done via online chat, which is very comprehensive.”

Daley likes TMW’s “great” product line and “strong” proposition, adding, “His limited liability company products are often market leaders. If he offered tentative agreements for that, that would be even better.

It’s great to see its positive improvement on the maximum LTVs of new build properties

Cunnington calls the lender “one of the best” for BTL Limited.

“It’s great to see its positive improvement on the maximum LTVs of new properties,” he adds.

Burch says TMW’s service has improved, but observes, “You can’t call for an update in the first 10 days.

NatWest Intermediate Solutions

That’s a big five-spot drop for NatWest.

“Simple policies, a good calculator but slow processing,” Tilbury sums up.

Walker believes that while the lender is generally one of the cheapest, its lack of backing from a field-based BDM is a problem.

“Live chat is often flooded, waiting more than 30 minutes is not unusual, and its calculator for wallet owners is often harder than that of competitors,” he says.

Easy policies, good calculator but slow processing

Cunnington, however, says NatWest’s updated interest coverage ratio requirements for five-year fixed-rate and similar mortgages have seen it become a “more regularly used and significant lender”, and Jannels finds its BDMs telephone calls are “very good and get things done”.

Specific Mortgages

Precise jumped up one place and Tilbury says: “Its niche policies make it invaluable.”

Pattanshetti praises “good products, an easy-to-use online quote process, and a great phone support team.”

Hollingworth welcomes the “wide supply of specialists” and Jannels says Precise is “very good” in the near-premium space, adding: “It will become more important as more and more problems with client profiles will happen.”

An easy-to-use online submission process and an excellent telephone support team

According to Walker, although Precise is one of the most profitable lenders, it is actually “a vanilla lender in the niche space.” He thinks the ability to triage cases that contravene the criteria to Kent Reliance or Interbay hampers Precise’s incentive to be flexible.

Paragon

Paragon is in ninth place, falling two spots, but Walker says, “Its cost-effective pricing, free reviews and BDM/subscriber support make it an attractive proposition for complex BTL customers.

“Most of my large multi-unit freehold blocks and HMOs have been submitted to Paragon. It offered the best price and the best service, as well as the possibility of referring to a pre-request for internal evaluation. However, this can be a bit property-sensitive in some cases.

He tends to overstate

Murphy says, “Councillors should first have the meaning of the application verified by the BDM. Processing is still far too slow and he tends to oversubmit.

“Nevertheless, it is still the best specialist lender in this space.”

Leeds Building Society

Leeds are a near-bottom non-movement but still deserve praise.

“A solid year for Leeds, which maintained a good service,” says Hollingworth. “The products are often up there or at the top of the tables.”

Murphy calls Leeds “a lender with competitive rates but limited products”, while Walker says: “A competitive range of HMOs, especially smaller HMOs under six occupants with free valuations.

The products are often up there or at the top of the tables

“No minimum income is helpful, but it does require earned income, which can be burdensome for full-time owners.”

blank silver

Virgin fell six places in the standings and Tilbury said: “New systems are needed to improve its proposition.

Burch laments “over an hour on the phone trying to make contact,” and Murphy says, “Great BDM and management team, but disappointed at times with slow service.”

New systems are needed to improve its proposal

Hollingworth welcomes the 80% LTV offer and good incentives from Virgin, adding: “Maintains a position in the long-term fixed rate market, which may be an area owners are watching more closely.”

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