So much has changed in the UK’s mortgage market in the last couple of months. These changes have affected all parties involved, including brokers, solicitors, valuers, lenders, and borrowers. The purchase market has stalled, there is minimal price transparency, physical valuations are not happening, everyone is working from home and capital markets have reacted by pricing for increased risk.
While there may be some green shoots for a positive recovery starting to show, such as a recent softening in the capital markets and the potential for lockdown restrictions relaxing in the future, we are still seeing a shift in the demand for the mortgage products available in the market.
In the BTL sector we have seen the proportion of remortgages increase as purchases fall to record levels, with lower LTV completions now making up nearly half the total market. Lenders who are still in the market today have had to reconsider their exposure to higher LTVs and adjust pricing to reflect risk levels.
In an environment with so many uncertainties it has been important to focus on tangible actions that steer the organisation in the right direction – never confusing the faith that we will prevail in the end with the discipline to confront the facts of our current reality.
As we all adjust to the new environment, I thought it would be useful to share five things that I have been focused on since the middle of March.
1. Implementing New Operational Processes
On the 17th March the government announced a three month payment holiday for all mortgage customers affected by Covid-19. This set in motion a huge amount of work as legislation was interpreted, operational processes put in place with reporting and data requirements mapped out.
The challenge here was not just about new processes and training it was also about managing the balance between obtaining an appropriate amount of due diligence information, whilst still giving our borrowers a positive experience and putting in place the right data to manage risk through the process.
Thanks to our continual reinvestment in our technology systems, we were quickly able to introduce interview, declaration and data driven processes. We are now in a strong position to efficiently understand our customers’ requirements, make quick decisions and work fairly with them on appropriate structuring to bring their accounts back up to date once we are through the mortgage holiday period.
2. Managing Operational Risk
The overnight transition to move any company to home working is something that increases operational risk and would never have happened so quickly without the external factors involved.
We are lucky at Landbay to be a technology led company with cloud-based systems, VoIP telephone services and a fully online non paper-based process. Therefore, the transition was straightforward and our team has maintained its capacity and level of efficiency.
Landbay being an FCA regulated entity has ensured that capital requirements are maintained, regulatory returns completed, mandated daily reconciliations managed, and we continue to carefully consider customer outcomes for everything we do. Constant monitoring of processes, data and service levels using tools that we already had in place has helped ensure we maintain the operational integrity of the organisation.
3. Working with our partners
We operate in an environment with many partners involved in the mortgage ecosystem. It has been important to regularly check in with each and monitor how they are dealing with the situation, share news and see how we can mutually support each other.
With lower volumes across the industry it has been a great time to reach out and make calls to our broker and funder partners to answer questions and share best practices.
4. Remaining engaged with the team
At Landbay we are fortunate to have a team of highly engaged employees. Feedback from them is vital to our management style.
Today, we have moved our company ‘stand up’ meetings to the virtual environment hosting twice weekly whole company Zoom meetings with questions submitted in advance, so that the executive team can address what is on people’s minds.
5. Being future ready
We know that in time the market will recover. At Landbay we are investing in continued improvement to our platform, products, and processes and will emerge stronger than before. Our development team has continued to deliver new functionality and we are using our additional underwriter capacity to shape our requirements.
Our vision is to be the leading BTL lending platform in the UK, the go to lender in this space and the partner of choice for brokers and their customers wanting to invest in BTL mortgages. Our focus today is keeping us on the right track to reach this goal.
Julian Cork - COO Landbay