Common client advice

Journalist: Les Steed, AE3 Media / Mortgage Solutions

ended 17. May 2022

  • What part of the mortgage process do you have to explain to your clients the most? 
  • What’s the best way to explain it?
  • Is this the approach you take for difficult questions, too? If not, how does it differ?


6 responses from the Newspage community

Star Quote
"There are so many moving parts to mortgages and buying a home in the UK that each aspect has to be explained. However, the most challenging aspect for most customers to get to grips with is that almost every answer to any question is 'it depends'. This is primarily because of lending policy changes, rate changes, credit score changes, and property type differences. I can't remember a day in the last two years where there hasn't been a change to one of the above, which naturally leads to confusion for many would-be buyers. Moreover, the biggest challenge with a minority of customers is the age-old adage of 'a little knowledge is dangerous'. Because there is so much conflicting information online, and of course, you can arrange your mortgage yourself this can lead to misplaced confidence. Please remember, there's some stuff you know, stuff you don't know but there's a mountain of stuff you don't know you don't know. As Mark Twain eloquently put it, "It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so".
"The most confusing part of the mortgage process tends to be affordability, especially when a client is paying £900 per month for rent, but a lender says an £800 mortgage is unaffordable. It's then a case of having to explain the way that the regulator views lenders and we have a discussion about stress testing, which with rates rising, is actually an easier conversation to have now. Second to that is the dark art of credit scoring; explaining to a client that's just failed the lender's credit score that the 998 score on their Experian app means nothing to a lender is always an interesting chat."
"The most difficult explanation I find myself giving to clients is around a lender's internal credit scorecard. This lovely old reason for decline is the bane of mortgage brokers' lives. As brokers, we can spend hours completing full affordability assessments, checking criteria, ensuring the client's credit file and financial history meets the lender's policy, complete the Decision in Principle application and be declined, due to not meeting 'the internal scorecard'. Basically, computer says no. I then have to explain to my clients why the deal I have so carefully researched and recommended is no longer an option, and the worst part is I can't even tell them why. Lenders confirm they cannot disclose where the application fell short of meeting their 'scorecard' even though the application meets affordability and criteria. Thankfully I don't come across too many of these, and most lenders have a soft footprint on credit file search so once explained to the client, it's onto the next best mortgage deal."
"The area I've recently found myself explaining over and over again is what happens when a property gets downvalued. I try not to focus on it too much when going through the ESIS but just let clients know it is not the end of the world. Only when it happens do we go through the options. Sometimes you do wince, though, when your client says they are happy to pay way over the valuation just to get the property. I'm talking tens of thousands over, and not in poshville areas of the south east either, but in Greater Manchester."
"I have a heart on sleeve approach to advice and dealing with clients, namely there are no silly questions, only questions. Also, as the advice process is specific to each client's individual needs, I find giving the client as much relevant information as possible so they can make an informed decision beats anything they will ever read online, which is usually out of date as the market changes daily. There are countless moving parts involved in purchasing a home and many parties involved, such as valuers and solicitors, so I explain to clients what each one, while reassuring them that I will be their sole point of contact."
For me the most common misunderstanding, whether deliberate or innocently is around a good credit file. How people manage their credit makes a huge impact on lenders, one little "blip" can create Armageddon for the client, I now do not entertain a client without a full credit report. Lots of people think the score is important and whilst it does assist, if they have any missed payments, historical debt issues or a CCJ for a parking ticket. It will seriously have an impact on loan to value, the interest rate that will be offered and the amount of lenders available to them in the market place.