12 days of…

We’re celebrating the arrival of December by putting together a 12-day advent calendar filled with all things mortgage-related from the 1st December till the 16th December!

Please check back each weekday to see what’s behind each door and go to our LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter social media pages to see the full image and message we have shared.

Happy Holidays from Mortgage Brain

What’s the latest with Mortgage Prisoners?

The FCA estimates there are currently 200,000 mortgage prisoners in the UK[1]. Some are trapped on interest-only mortgages with ‘inactive’ lenders. However, figures show that the number of interest-only mortgages had fallen by 54%, from 2.5 million in 2012 to 1.23 million in 2018 with regulated mortgage lenders committing to contacting all interest-only borrowers with loans due to mature at the end of 2020 to check repayment would be achievable or to find a new solution[2].

Last year the FCA relaxed some of its affordability checks, allowing lenders to assess affordability based on a borrower’s track record to make it easier for mortgage prisoners to find a new cheaper deal.

Capping lenders’ SVRs, which are a major factor for Mortgage Prisoners, has also been put forward by an all-party parliamentary group to help. There is currently no limit to how high a lender can set the standard variable rate and a cap of 2% above the Bank of England base rate for all SVRs would automatically see mortgage prisoners making instant savings of hundreds of pounds2.

In October 2020, Halifax began accepting remortgage applications of up to 75% LTV from mortgage prisoners, using the modified affordability assessment measures put in place by the FCA[3]. Other lenders may take the same path, taking advantage of the change in FCA rules to try and make it easier for mortgage prisoners to switch to a cheaper deal. Recently, NatWest introduced lending criteria specific to mortgage prisoners and Santander started accepting applications from those trapped in expensive mortgages. The West Brom Building Society too is now implementing the new affordability rules with seven lenders in all starting to offer products[4].

How technology can help

At Mortgage Brain we understand the problems faced by mortgage prisoners and how hard it is for mortgage advisers to find suitable products for them. That’s why our product sourcing solutions MortgageBrain Classic and MortgageBrain Anywhere include a ‘mortgage prisoner’ filter to make it easier to find suitable remortgage products for those clients and help them to escape from a life sentence of expensive mortgage deals.

It’s as simple as adding the applicant and mortgage details, ticking the ‘mortgage prisoner’ filter and clicking ‘source now’. Then the adviser will be presented with a list of suitable products. To see the filter in action, watch the video for MortgageBrain Classic and MortgageBrain Anywhere

To find out more about Mortgage Brain’s suite of powerful solutions that together offer a seamless end-to-end journey from sourcing through to conveyancing, email sales@mortgage-brain.co.uk.

[1] https://www.which.co.uk/news/2020/07/mortgage-prisoners-is-capping-rates-the-answer/

[2] https://www.mortgageintroducer.com/number-interest-mortgages-falls-13/

[3] https://www.yourmoney.com/mortgages/halifax-to-accept-mortgage-prisoner-remortgages/

[4] https://www.ftadviser.com/mortgages/2020/11/10/fca-rule-change-for-mortgage-prisoners-bearing-fruit/

Laying the foundations for self-builds

Self-build mortgages are increasingly becoming an untapped source of business for UK mortgage advisers. Recent research from Ipswich Building Society reveals that over a third of UK adults (35%) are considering a self-build project at some point in the future[1].

There are many aspects that encourage those looking for a new home to build their own. 51% of respondents were attracted to a self-build option because it provides the ability to specify the layout. 28% said that being able to make environmentally friendly decisions during the process appealed to them, and 17% cited economic or financial benefits as a key factor in their decision.

But there was one aspect of self-building that almost half (46%) of respondents saw as a major challenge, the financing of the build, and indeed 72% of those wanting to build their own home didn’t realise they would require a specialist self-build mortgage.

What’s different about a self-build mortgage?

A self-build mortgage is designed to suit the elongated process of building a new home which is usually completed in various stages. Therefore, funds are released to the client to try and tie in with the completion of each stage rather than a lump sum being offered up front, as happens with a standard residential mortgage. This is ideal for situations where the client has a lump sum ready as a deposit for the land to be built on, as well as the first stage of the build.

And it’s not just new build projects that can benefit from a self-build mortgage, they can also be used for:

  • Conversions
  • Renovations
  • Demolish and rebuild projects
  • Mid or partially built projects

Self-building in the UK

The size of the UK self-build market is estimated to account for between 7% and 10% (12,000 homes per year) across the UK[2]. This is supported by data from the National Custom & Self-Build Association (NaCSBA) that shows the number of self-builds growing steadily since the introduction of self-build registers in 2016 to a total of 15,902 in 2019[3].

Whilst the NaCSBA data shows that the UK is lagging behind much of Europe with self-build accounting for 80% of new homes in Austria and 60% in countries such as Sweden, Norway, Italy and Belgium[3] , the government’s Right to Build Scheme, passed in 2016, could result in a yearly increase of some 35% in custom and self-build properties[4]. Additionally, the Right to Build Scheme allows local authorities to make more plots available to self-builders, making it easier to find that perfect location, although the average price of a plot can vary drastically throughout the UK with a few miles making a huge difference. For instance, a plot in Portsmouth could sell for around £371,250, whereas just down the road in Southampton, the average price for a plot could be £156,666. And a plot in Liverpool could set a self-builder back more than £800,0004.

Building plots are also now easier to come by with brownfield sites being made available. These are areas of land previously developed for commercial, agricultural, or industrial use, and local authorities now hold registers of brownfield land suitable for housing. Ipswich Building Society’s research showed that 31% of potential self-builders were not aware of this, although 61% said it would help them find a plot once they were made aware of brownfield sites[5].

Finding the right self-build mortgage

Of course, for a mortgage adviser, finding a specialist self-build mortgage for a client can be time-consuming. It could mean hours on the phone to a variety of lenders, with no guarantee of finding the perfect product for a client.

That’s where Criteria Hub can make a world of difference. It has over 50 criteria relating to self-build, plus a range of questions that assist with the applications, making the process quick and simple with just a single search of over 70 lenders required. This means an adviser can find what maybe once was considered to be a niche product just as easily as an everyday residential or buy-to-let product.

Whatever type of mortgage you need to find, Criteria Hub delivers many benefits:

  • Match criteria from over 70 lenders for both residential and buy-to-let
  • Over 30,000 criteria to compare
  • Ability to flag criteria that are critical or a deal-breaker
  • 1000s of additional criteria not found on lender websites
  • Standardised terms make it quick and simple for lenders to update their criteria

Maybe it’s time to look at Self-build clients and start laying the foundations for boosting your business? To find out more about Criteria Hub email sales@mortgage-brain.co.uk or simply register to become a Criteria Hub user with a 30-day free trial.

[1] https://www.ipswich-intermediaries.co.uk/blog/over-a-third-of-uk-adults-are-considering-a-self-build-project-so-here-s-the-latest-data-on-this-potential-group-of-clients

[2] https://www.york.ac.uk/media/chp/documents/2013/Lloyds_A4%20report%20v2-final%20NEWno.2.pdf

[3] https://nacsba.org.uk/news/single-dwelling-data-shows-self-build-numbers-growing/

[4] https://www.insulationexpress.co.uk/blog/uks-biggest-self-build-opportunities/

[5] https://www.ipswich-intermediaries.co.uk/blog/over-a-third-of-uk-adults-are-considering-a-self-build-project-so-here-s-the-latest-data-on-this-potential-group-of-clients

Best Technology Provider awarded to…

Mortgage Brain!

We are thrilled that we have won the Mortgage Strategy Award again, for the fifth time since 2010! It also delights us to have won the Mortgage Technology Provider of the Year at The Mortgage Awards 2020.

We strive to provide the best mortgage service to advisers and lenders alike with our end-to-end offering by delivering the best innovative technology, providing solutions that support and refine the mortgage process.

This year, we have further enhanced our offering with the launch of Affordability Hub, as well as integrating Criteria Hub with our MortgageBrain Classic and Anywhere systems enabling criteria and product data to be sourced in a single journey. This integration was applauded in our recent award win, which was a proud moment for our business. 

As a business, we are determined to provide the very best technology solutions to help support the mortgage industry and will continue to explore how we can simplify mortgage processes in ways that will benefit everyone!

On behalf of everyone at Mortgage Brain, we would like to say a massive thank you to everyone that voted or nominated, and here is an opportunity to watch our win from the Mortgage Strategy Awards virtual event!

Mortgage Strategy Awards 2020


Mortgage Brain Team

Knowledge is power

With the housing market experiencing significant activity levels, it is a particularly busy time for mortgage advisers. That’s good news, but at the same time can make it difficult to keep up with industry news, trends and best practices, especially as the market continues to change in light of the pandemic. For those working towards meeting their requirement for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours, they have to address pressure to engage with many accredited activities as the end of the year draws closer.

As mortgage technology experts, Mortgage Brain creates solutions to provide advisers with an end-to-end mortgage process that is seamless, quick and efficient. But, it also takes pride in delivering insights, content, and training to support advisers with mortgage intelligence.

Take Mortgage Vision, its annual industry event, designed specifically for mortgage advisers to provide an opportunity to enhance professional development, network with peers, and share knowledge from a variety of industry experts. In 2020, it celebrated its 11th year and transitioned from its usual roadshow format to an immersive virtual event to ensure it could still deliver all the benefits that advisers have come to know and love, which we’ve summarised below!

Bolstering CPD hours with events

This year’s virtual Mortgage Vision event was accredited by the CII meaning attendees could earn up to 3.5 CPD hours from the comfort of their home or office by listening to experts cover topics such as the evolution of the regulatory landscape and the importance of an adviser’s role in the new normal; understanding the shape of a post-pandemic economy and intermediated mortgage market; and how recent FCA changes affect mortgage sourcing processes.

That goes a long way to meet your requirement for the year and you get to benefit from all the knowledge and insight along the way.


Do you ever wonder what your competitors are up to? Mortgage Vision is the perfect opportunity to meet your peers, exchange ideas, and discuss future opportunities in an environment where the statistics point to an increase in productivity. 99% agree that improved communication and collaboration of online meetings can improve productivity and 76% of individuals use video collaboration to work remotely, of which 75% experienced increased productivity[1].

Share best practice without borders

Our industry is tightly regulated, and businesses can find it hard to keep up with the latest changes in legislation. Industry events are an ideal opportunity to keep abreast of any new legislative introductions or amendments and will help you avoid costly errors. You may even discover better and more efficient ways for your business to operate with thoughts from insightful speakers.

Whilst physical events have their advantages, the online event environment removes any geographical boundaries that may have restricted the events you attend or the number of attendees you could meet. If you’re an adviser in Newcastle you can join an online event and very easily find yourself networking with advisers in the south-west of England without having to leave your home or office. And our Mortgage Vision poll this year showed that companies intend to adopt more technology to help them do that

  • 61% are using more technology since lockdown
  • 78% will incorporate more technology into their business to interact with customers

Spot the trends, identify opportunities

What is the next opportunity that could take your business to the next level? Are you missing out on a potential revenue stream? 37% of the attendees at this year’s on-demand event said they believe an increased need for help for self-employed buyers will have the biggest impact on their business, and 37%[2] thought the change to the Stamp Duty thresholds would impact their business most. Armed with this sort of knowledge, an adviser can plan for the coming months and try and increase their client base, something that was a priority for 42% of advisers2.

Find answers

Got a business problem that you just cannot fathom out? No doubt many people in the room have been in the same position. More than likely with this year’s online event attracting more than 800 attendees. If you can’t find the answer in a networking session with your peers, live Q&A sessions let you quiz experts who can identify issues may have overcome similar obstacles themselves and can help pinpoint resolutions.


Some virtual events allow you to revisit the content. Our Virtual Mortgage Vision event proved to be very popular for this with 79% accessing the content on-demand[3]. In light of this, we’ve made the environment available, even if you didn’t attend the original event.

If you’re looking for ways to meet your CPD requirement for the year it’s not too late to earn up to 3.5 hours of CPD hours by accessing Virtual Mortgage Vision, which remains on-demand until February 2021. Gain access by simply registering here.

If you have any enquiries relating to Mortgage Brain’s CPD accredited activities, please contact events@mortgage-brain.co.uk

[1] https://www.lifesize.com/en/video-conferencing-blog/video-conferencing-statistics

[2] Virtual Mortgage Vision 2020 Poll

[3] https://www.mortgage-brain.co.uk/pdf/press-release/news-brokers-turn-focus-to-bringing-in-new-clients.pdf

Where should I start with Mortgage Sourcing?

At Mortgage Brain, we are mortgage technology experts that take pride in providing advisers with products that help them to give customers the best and most accurate advice possible, especially when it comes to sourcing. One question we are often asked is “where should I start with mortgage sourcing?”.

Sourcing is your ‘mortgage research‘ and the main elements can be categorised as:

  • Products available (MortgageBrain Classic or MortgageBrain Anywhere)
  • Criteria (Criteria Hub)
  • Affordability (Affordability Hub)

Covering all three areas enables you to ensure your recommended mortgage fits your customers criteria, is affordable to them, and is the most suitable product.

So where should you start?

The starting point depends on the individual customer and their specific needs. Below are three scenarios highlighting where it would make sense to start your research in each set of circumstances. 

  1. A young professional couple, with no debts, no dependants, both in full-time employment earning £50,000 each, looking to purchase a standard built house for £300,000 with a deposit of £150,000.

It is likely that criteria and affordability are not the main concern (they would only need 1.5 times income). So, identifying the best product available with the lowest rate of interest for their preferred scheme with a product sourcing system such as MortgageBrain Classic or MortgageBrain Anywhere would be the best place to start.

2. A sole trader who has been self-employed for 18 months with only one year’s accounts, is looking to purchase a property that has overhead power lines running above the property which might cause lenders concern.

The applicant has a 30% deposit but has found some lenders require him to provide at least two years’ accounts to be considered for a mortgage. The primary focus here is not rate but rather can he get a mortgage given the circumstances? In this scenario, checking his criteria needs against options available utilising a system such as Criteria Hub would be the best place to start.

3. A single person in full-time employment is looking to buy a property for £300,000 with a 15% deposit, so they need to borrow the remaining balance of £255,000.

A client fact find captures their income, expenditure, and overall household profile and you think £255,000 might not be affordable for them. Again, the rate is a secondary consideration, as is criteria, the main concern is what lender will deem as affordable. Whilst this can be undertaken manually by visiting individual lender sites, using a tool such as Affordability Hub would enable you to quickly check if the amount the customer wishes to borrow is achievable from a range of selected lenders all at once! 

The above scenarios demonstrate there is not a one size fits all approach and illustrate how the latest technology can streamline your mortgage research journey. Such technology is not designed to create new parts of the sales process, but rather to make the existing processes more efficient and accurate so you can give your customers more choice in a fraction of the time.

Utilising leading systems such as Criteria Hub, Affordability Hub, and MortgageBrain Classic and Anywhere as standalone platforms can refine your process but become even more powerful when used together. To assist this, MortgageBrain Classic and Anywhere are now integrated with Criteria Hub, and Affordability Hub is available as part of your Criteria Hub license to provide an end to end mortgage journey.

Time saving technology

Time is money, and with cases becoming ever more complex, it’s easy for you to spend more time than you would like matching criteria for a client, when in fact your processes could be streamlined by embracing technology.

This is reflected by more advisers utilising the multi-search function within Criteria Hub which enables you to select up to 6 criteria at a time to source for complex cases in a single click.

In the last 90 days statistics revealed roughly a 60/40 split in favour of multi searches over single compare searches, with a surge in the use of both up 48% and 57% respectively, illustrating both the heightened requirement for multi criteria searches and the resurgence of the market post-lockdown.

When you combine the number of searches, the overall time saving is staggering. Using the average time for one search of five minutes multiplied by the total items of criteria searches 309,252, the time savings is circa 1,000 days. When you combine this with the ability to perform a multi criteria search within your product sourcing journey utilising Mortgage Brain, the power of these standalone solutions is truly realised.

Time savings can also be achieved when it comes to affordability sourcing with the ability for an adviser to do roughly 1.5 hours worth of work in less than 10 minutes* by getting the responses from over 20 lenders in a single search using Affordability Hub.

It’s easy to see how embracing technology in this way gives you greater coverage whilst requiring less of your time, no matter where in the process you start.

To find out more about how our solutions can streamline your sourcing process, contact us at sales@mortgage-brain.co.uk

* Based on the average selection of 21 lenders per search and the average time taken to complete a lenders calculator being 4 minutes. The average time spent to complete all 4 steps in Affordability Hub is 9 minutes 27 seconds.
- all statistics accurate at time of publication

Making the complex simple

We are seeing an upward trend in adverse sourcing and advisers are now increasingly likely to be contacted by borrowers with adverse credit.

Recent research by Pepper Money and YouGov showed that 15% of 4,094 adult respondents had experienced missed payments, CCJs, defaults, unsecured arrears, and secured arrears in the last three years. 17% of these intend to buy property in the next 12 months which the research estimates to be 1.34 million people nationally[1].

Crucially, 57% of respondents with adverse credit who are looking to buy or remortgage said they would seek advice from a mortgage broker, up from 40% in 2019. And with the current challenging economic climate compounded with the growing strictness of firms issuing defaults, these numbers look set to grow. Whilst this rise in business is good news, it poses a problem as there is still only a small proportion of lenders who provide adverse credit and, due to the pandemic, lenders have struggled to maintain service levels meaning fewer options are currently available[2]. In addition, to service this demand, many mainstream lenders are reducing the threshold for specialist credit to maintain their service levels. So where does this leave you and your customers who need more lending options, especially those with adverse credit?

Embrace technology

Criteria sourcing, including adverse sourcing, can be assisted with the use of technology. For example, with Criteria Hub you can select up to 6 criteria at once using its multi-search function and then easily browse the results alongside any policy notes and warnings for each criteria. Advisers are turning to such solutions as the complexity of cases heightens which is reflected in the search behaviour of the platforms’ users.

In May, criteria searches for ‘Default’, ‘County Court Judgement’ both experienced a sizeable increase whilst ‘Late Payments (not missed)’ surged month on month from in May 35%, in June 22%, and then a further 18% in July. [3]

In addition, there was a spike in searches for ‘Current Payday Loan’ criteria which increased by 40%. However, the largest rise was experienced for the search term ‘Financial Associates with Adverse’ which indicates if a lender can potentially accept residential applications from an applicant who is financially associated with someone who has adverse credit. There was a huge spike in this search in May with a 75% increase month on month.

This emphasises the power of Criteria Hub’s multi-search functionality and its growing usefulness for advisers who would otherwise have to manually visit each lender to check their criteria and policies. As Criteria Hub collects detailed information directly from the lenders, you can be confident it is highly accurate.

The time-saving abilities of the platform is further bolstered by the recent integration with Mortgage Brain product sourcing solutions which provides:

  • View a multitude of lenders including mainstream lenders that have specialist lending thresholds.
  • A single process quickly provides you with a list of lenders that have the specialist products needed and shows which products are available.
  • A focused view that shows only matched schemes, and filters out non-matched products.
  • A straightforward comparison process as the most applicable products are bundled together on a like-for-like basis which makes recommendation and justification simple.
  • All product information is provided directly by the lender to give you the most accurate information available.

Previously, you may have found it hard and time-consuming to compare results requiring you to cross-reference lenders with the panel in MortgageBrain product sourcing but that is no longer the case with integration of these solutions. Furthermore, with extensive documentation you can uphold the highest levels of compliance and keep a record of your journey and justification for complete peace of mind.

To find out more about how our solutions can streamline your sourcing process or to take a 30-day free trial of Criteria Hub, contact us at sales@mortgage-brain.co.uk.

[1] https://www.mortgagesolutions.co.uk/news/2020/03/09/brits-with-adverse-credit-increasingly-likely-to-contact-a-broker-pepper/

[2] https://www.mortgagesolutions.co.uk/specialist-lending/2020/06/25/were-already-seeing-more-clients-with-adverse-credit-and-need-more-options-dale-jannels/

[3] Insights from the Criteria Hub platform, August 2020

Promoting your business online – Website Best Practice

In business, as in life, you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression. That relates to every customer-facing aspect of your business, including your website, especially as physical contact is currently limited making it even more likely to be the first interaction for a potential customer considering utilising the services of your company.

Before making a commitment, such as selecting a mortgage adviser, customers will first check out a company’s website to help them make an informed decision. Imagine your customer performed a search either to discover you don’t have a website, or they arrive to find a series of unattractive, unresponsive, hard to navigate pages. Is that going to encourage them to do business with your company? Probably not.

This makes it essential to position yourself online with a strong, professional reflection of your business that assures customers you are credible and provides the motivation to want to engage further with your business. Forbes claimed that it can be more damaging to have a bad website than no website at all! [1]

First impressions count

If your website is hard to navigate and not visually appealing, the chance to show your credibility and acquire a new client will be lost. In fact, 94% of first impressions are design-related[2] and it takes just 2.6 seconds for a user’s eyes to land on the area of a website that most influences their first impression[3].

Indeed, your website does not get long to win over a customer. They will form that impression in less than a second. 50 milliseconds[4] to be exact, or the blink of an eye. And if they don’t like what they see, 89% will move on to your competitor’s website[5], so let’s look at what you can do to optimise it to help you attract and convert more prospects.


Hicks law states that the more choices a user has to make, the longer it will take them to make a decision[6]. Don’t clutter your homepage with too many products or services. Instead focus on the key messages of your company and decisions you want them to make, like following a call to action or filling out a contact form.


The old days, when all your information needed to be above the fold on your website are long gone. That led to many a homepage that was cluttered and hard to navigate. Now it is more important to use white (or negative) space between text, images, and headings to help create a natural flow to guide your users through your content and make it more digestible and accessible to them.

Clever use of whitespace and thoughtful design will give your website a more minimalist feel and make it more aesthetically pleasing to your users. In a similar way to whitespace, utilising colour contrast can help draw attention to elements on a page you want to highlight, like your logo, a call to action or important content.

Engagement and research

Design and functionality are key to gaining visitors but does your website engage users once they land on your homepage? You may find it easy to attract visitors to your site but if they can’t find relevant and useful content, they’ll move on.

For instance, users may come to your website looking for initial advice for a mortgage. If they arrive on your homepage and find they can scan relevant articles, search for best buys, or use a quick and simple mortgage calculator you will keep them on your website longer. Easy to use features and content bolsters the quality of their experience, engaging them and making them more likely to send an enquiry to generate a lead for your business.

Need help with your website?

Optimising your website might seem a little daunting, but Mortgage Brain is here to help. MortgageBrain B2C is a flexible and professional service that gives you a simple but impactful website to properly represent your company and attract visitors.

You can choose from a range of templates, add mortgage calculators or mortgage search and best buy plug-ins, edit your content to suit your needs, and retrieve leads generated from your site. We do all the hard work for you.

Our templates are designed to be eye-catching, easy to navigate, functional, responsive and engaging, so whether you want a totally new website or to freshen-up and enhance your existing one, our experts have the skills to make it work harder for your business and represent you in the best possible light.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicoleleinbachreyhle/2014/09/29/websites-for-small-businesses/#59f10f772026

[2] https://www.sweor.com/firstimpressions

[3] https://cxl.com/blog/first-impressions-matter-the-importance-of-great-visual-design/

[4] https://research.google/pubs/pub38315/

[5] https://www.webfx.com/blog/web-design/website-statistics-2020/

[6] https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/hick-s-law-making-the-choice-easier-for-users

Working around the impact

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact throughout the world with almost every industry and market affected by it. Certainly, the mortgage industry has and continues to face many challenges. Lenders, advisers, and their customers face logistical challenges as they navigate ways to work efficiently from home, without face-to-face contact and for some there will be additional financial pressures.

Mortgage holidays

With normal working practices thrown into disarray and businesses losing large percentages of their income, the knock-on effect meant many homeowners could be faced with financial hardship. To help support borrowers, the government announced that mortgage lenders would offer three-month payment holidays to try and ease the burden and this has subsequently now been extended[1]. It is estimated that almost one-in-five UK mortgage holders have now been granted a payment holiday, which equates to around 2M Britons[2].

In response to the continued financial challenges faced by many consumers, a series of proposals have been developed to help borrowers who are continuing to struggle with mortgage repayments[3] including:

  • Granting those who have not yet taken a payment holiday until 31st October 2020 to apply
  • Enabling borrowers coming to the end of a payment holiday, but still in need of support, to request another three-month payment holiday
  • Stating that at the end of the payment holiday lenders should contact borrowers to agree whether to spread the cost of missed payments over the remaining mortgage term or to extend the term
  • Extending the ban on repossession of houses until 31st October 2020
  • Clarifying that payments missed through payment holidays or partial holidays will not affect a borrower’s credit score

Mortgage products almost halved

COVID-19 also heavily impacted the UK housing market. In the middle of March, mortgage lenders were forced to review their offerings due to the operational obstacles that the lockdown imposed, including the requirement to continue servicing and supporting existing customers, the process of mass migrating day-to-day operations to a home based set up, and the inability to obtain physical valuations. The consequences of these factors resulted in numerous product withdrawals or amendments alongside multiple policy and criteria changes. Meanwhile, buyers and sellers were urged not to move or hold viewings during the lockdown[4].

Recent Mortgage Brain data (as of 27 May) shows that when compared to pre-pandemic levels, the number of mortgage products available is 42.4% lower than the nine-week average to 16th March[5]. However, it is not all bad news, there is cause for cautious optimism as that figure appeared to bottom out during the week ending 12th April and the last five weeks have shown a steady rise in the number of products, resulting in a 13.8% (8,450) increase on the lowest level4.

Technology at the forefront

For many of the problems the pandemic has given rise to, technology frequently provides an answer. With the battle against Coronavirus demanding everyone observes social distancing, while there was a boom in remortgages, the housing purchase market slowed[6], with the knock-on effect being felt by the mortgage industry. But out of these problems, could we have found different ways of working that change our lives for the better?

Times like these bring about radical innovations and new solutions to tackle these obstacles. If you’re trying to buy a house, a viewing in person was not allowed during the lockdown. Now, although possible again, many buyers and agents may be sceptical about the safety of viewing in person. This has given rise to virtual viewings as there is no need keep to the two-metre rule but moreover it provides a widely accessible experience that buyers and agents can perform from the safety of their own homes whilst reaching a larger audience than ever, without the constraints of having to align the scheduling of the seller, buyer and agent[7]. This innovation appears to have surpassed the old way of working with a more convenient and efficient process, and with the addition of drone technology, exteriors of larger properties can be impressively showcased too. Perhaps this could become a part of the new normal?

Another heavily impacted activity has been the hosting of in-person events with countless roadshows, seminars, exhibitions and conferences having to be cancelled as venues close with little idea of when they may reopen. Once again, technology has been leveraged to provide a substitute through online events. Whilst you can’t pick up your goodie bag full of handy gadgets or enjoy a smorgasbord of snacks, think of the stress, travel time, and cost negated by not having to make travel and hotel arrangements. Not to mention the positive effect on your carbon footprint. Could virtual events also become a part of everyday business life after lockdown?

Support for the market

At a day-to-day level, innovation within technology itself has also provided a channel of support with companies like Zoom and Google constantly and rapidly evolving their offerings to meet the new needs of a digitally expectant world.

Within the mortgage industry it is a similar situation. Rapid changes to products available, policy and lenders’ criteria have proved challenging to keep track of due to the number of channels providing information and the constant nature of the changes. To aide this, several support hubs emerged in the market offering support to various groups. However, in April, Mortgage Brain delivered a new breed of support hub that took a holistic view of the market and consolidated everything in one place to provide a single source of truth and help combat the information overload.

Developed to support advisers and lenders alike during these challenging times, the COVID-19 Support Hub was made available on Criteria Hub and relays the truth about the pandemic’s impact on the industry across policy, product and news as well as containing easily accessible resources including:

  • Lenders Impact Page allowing you to access regularly updated information populated direct from the lenders themselves, and
  • COVID-19 News Portal displaying criteria, product, and industry news as it is released

Mortgage Brain made its COVID-19 Support Hub available to everyone by hosting it publicly to ensure all advisers had access to the updates they needed to be able to monitor the rapidly evolving marketplace. Taking it a step further, Mortgage Brain also made the Criteria Hub platform free to registered users for at least 90 days (*offer ended 31 Jul 2020) so they could further filter through the noise that the Coronavirus outbreak brought.

Innovation at the core

Mortgage Brain has long been a mortgage technology expert and market leader, and COVID-19 has proved the value of its innovative solutions through its ability to keep advisers working efficiently, from wherever they find themselves.

Inevitably, the need to work from home and the lack of face-to-face meetings with clients has created its own challenges. But Mortgage Brain solutions like The Key with its Client Portal, make  communication with clients secure, quick, and simple through encrypted online messaging. Meanwhile, its case tracking functionality means both adviser and client know exactly how a case is progressing 24/7.

The latest version of The Key includes new remortgage review functionality which can monitor when a mortgage rate is due for review, suggest potential replacement products complete with savings, and automatically email a customer and urge them to contact their adviser.

Whilst the purchase market slowly starts to move, ConveyancingBrain offers a way to take advantage of the surge in demand for remortgages which currently accounts for 65% of market activity[8]. It’s quick and simple to send a cashback or fixed fee remortgage to earn referral fees of up to £300 and the case tracking functionality within ConveyancingBrain means customers can always see how their case is progressing.

How long will COVID-19’s impact on our market last? No one really knows. And who is to say what the new normal will be for the industry, but the pandemic has undoubtedly served as a catalyst for innovation and digitalisation, the impacts of which will revolutionise the way we all work. To find out more about Mortgage Brain’s suite of powerful solutions that together offer a seamless end-to-end journey from sourcing through to conveyancing, email sales@mortgage-brain.co.uk

*The 90-day trial offer ran from 20th April – 30 July 2020 and is no longer available

[1] https://www.which.co.uk/news/2020/05/coronavirus-how-to-apply-for-a-three-month-mortgage-payment-holiday/

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/money/2020/may/09/mortgage-holidays-cost-payments-coronavirus

[3] https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/05/homeowners-set-to-be-able-to-extend-mortgage-payment-holidays/

[4] https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/home-buyers-and-renters-urged-to-delay-property-moves/

[5] https://www.mortgage-brain.co.uk/pdf/press-release/news-product-and-esis-numbers-up-again.pdf

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/mar/26/housing-market-frozen-by-government-during-coronavirus-lockdown

[7] https://www.homesandproperty.co.uk/property-news/london-property-coronavirus-virtual-viewings-a137631.html

[8] https://www.mortgagesolutions.co.uk/better-business/2020/05/22/mortgage-market-has-bottomed-out-but-new-abnormal-awaits-lofthouse/

A single source for truth

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of us to rethink the way we do business, bringing technology to the forefront as vast amounts of the UK workforce migrates to working from home.

This has undeniably brought challenges across financial services, notably within the mortgage industry for lenders, for you, and your customers, as the shape of the mortgage industry continues to change almost daily.

Some of the most rapidly evolving changes have occurred as a result of mortgage lenders reviewing their product ranges and policies for new and existing customers alike, mainly due to operational constraints and to support the government’s payment holiday scheme. It is now reported that 1 in 7 mortgage holders in the UK have requested a payment holiday[1].

On 14th April Mortgage Brain reported the number of products available were down by 7,179, 49.1% lower than the nine-week average to 16th March.

Supporting simplicity

Keeping up to date with the frequency and complexity of the changes poses new challenges for your business including how to best obtain timely, accurate information, and understand how these rapid changes are impacting your business and your clients. Particularly as an overwhelming amount of information is posted across a multitude of channels by numerous sources.

As mortgage technology experts, at Mortgage Brain, we take pride in the accuracy, timeliness and relevancy of the information we publish and have available within our sourcing and criteria solutions. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have enhanced our efforts to provide access to accurate and relevant information by allowing users of our offline sourcing product to access the online version for free for at least 90 days. And, we extended this offer to Criteria Hub for new users*, while also inviting lenders to update their policies on the platform in real-time.

During these challenging times, we have also acted upon customer feedback to provide additional support through a platform to relay the truth of COVID-19’s impact on the industry across policy, product, and news, all from one source. With this in mind, on 20th April, we proudly announced the launch of a newly developed, bespoke solution in the form of the COVID-19 Support Hub on Criteria Hub.

Introducing our COVID-19 Support Hub on Criteria Hub

Our dedicated support hub contains easily accessible resources including:

  • Lenders Impact Page allowing you to access regularly updated information populated direct from the lenders themselves; and
  • COVID-19 News Portal displaying criteria, product, and industry news as it is released

The platform is open to everyone and provides a single source for mortgage industry updates at this time of uncertainty. However, fully registered Criteria Hub customers can also benefit from access to specific policy notes directly from lenders on the page, and from within Criteria Hub itself, to assist with customer advice at a time when clarity is more important than ever.

Criteria Hub remains free for at least 90 days to new users, enabling all advisers to take advantage of its latest features (**offer ended 31 July 2020). Register today, and equip yourself with the knowledge to support your clients during these difficult times by visiting the Criteria Hub Support Hub or emailing sales@mortgage-brain.co.uk.

Any existing customers that would like to have a demonstration of the new functionality can email sales@mortgage-brain.co.uk to arrange a free online session.

* Please allow two working days to process applications

**The 90-day trial offer ran from 20th April – 30 July 2020 and is no longer available

[1] https://www.mortgagesolutions.co.uk/