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Stuart Gregory: The Government deserves credit for housing market effort

Stuart Gregory MM blog

Interesting news recently that Bonnie Tyler is representing the UK in Eurovision – the time of year when we all celebrate how much the rest of Europe dislikes us.

I certainly think there is mileage in entering George Osborne as our entry next year, if only for the entertainment of the nation.

It is a tenuous link, granted, but I want to talk about lender turnaround times.

I am sure I am not the only broker to have experienced both extremes in service. From the wonderful, an update after submission within 48 hours, to the other extreme, as I had this week, of being told that it would be six ‘working’ days before documents would be assessed.

We all know a ‘working’ day means something totally different to us (most brokers have seven). It is certainly different to how the lenders view it!

I have also heard this week of a large loan department at a major bank taking 14 days to review a case after submission.

When I questioned a lender this week how they were addressing the issue, I was told ‘we’re taking on more staff’.

How long does that take? It certainly does not help the existing cases.

It is very difficult to manage the expectations of a client (and anxious estate agents) when such a wide guideline is given.

The question you have to ask is why can some lenders cope with an influx of business while others can not?

In that last nine months, we have seen a gradual increase to enquiries and applications, which must have been replicated at the lenders.

Whereas 18 months ago, we would see one lender inundated with applications as they took tentative steps back into the market, that is not happening as much now.

So what else is happening? There is ‘Help to Buy’.

We have already seen many column inches devoted to the subject but I feel the Government should be congratulated on finally doing something to help all buyers in the market.

I am pretty certain it will undergo a metamorphosis in the next nine months before Stage 2 arrives – but any scheme which will also aim to help potential mortgage prisoners must be applauded.

I would have preferred that both stages were launched at once, as I feel the staggered nature of Stage 2 may affect the level of homebuyers in the 3rd and 4th quarters.

But, as we know, there were many elements regarding second homes that were overlooked in the launch. Did they approach a trade body for their thoughts beforehand? If they did not, they should have!

I was pleased to be asked onto BBC5Live to discuss the scheme, and appeared just after a Government minister, who was taken to task by the great Peter Allen over his understanding of the scheme.

Overall though, add this to the Funding for Lending Scheme, which we all know has had a positive effect regardless of the naysayers, I would give the Government a B+ for the last 12 months.

Stuart Gregory is managing director of Lentune Mortgage Consultancy

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