Jane Simpson: Successful sourcing in buy-to-let

Jane Simpson is managing director of TBMC

Being able to accurately source buy-to-let (BTL) mortgages is one of the challenges of successfully placing cases for landlord clients.

The marketplace for buy-to-let finance has always been very dynamic, with daily changes occurring to lending criteria and product options. It requires skill and resourcefulness to determine the best solutions for each scenario presented to an intermediary.

Some ‘vanilla’ cases are straightforward, with few criteria issues to resolve, so finding suitable mortgage products comes down to the cheapest rate currently available and the preference of the client for the rate type and term.

Things get trickier, though, when presented with a more complex case where an in-depth knowledge of lending criteria is required to identify the best providers.

Experience counts for a lot with buy-to-let mortgages, and being familiar with which lenders do what can save huge amounts of time when first assessing an enquiry.

Learning shortcuts is a key element of successful sourcing, especially when dealing with specialist lenders and more complicated scenarios.

For example, at TBMC we get a lot of enquiries for houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs). As such, establishing the number of bedrooms and whether a licence has been obtained can quickly eliminate certain lenders and give a more manageable shortlist to consider.

Likewise, with expat cases; finding out which countries a lender will accept and establishing the applicant’s income are always key facts, as they can rule out many providers at the outset, saving time and effort.

TBMC has had a surge in holiday let enquiries since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, due to the rise in popularity of UK staycations.

Again, asking pertinent questions at the start can speed up the process – for example, where is the property located, what is the rental income during high and low seasons, and are there any restrictive covenants?

Of course, most brokers have a range of tools at their disposal, including sourcing systems, criteria databases and a range of different calculators to help them find solutions, although the reliability of information can sometimes be a concern.

The dynamic nature of the buy-to-let mortgage market means that the providers of product data are constantly having to update their systems to present an accurate picture.

At TBMC, we use our own bespoke buy-to-let mortgage sourcing system and criteria database, so we know how reliable our own data is and have a team dedicated to keeping it updated on a daily basis.

With any sourcing system,
having an intelligent way of narrowing down your search according to specific client requirements can be a huge
time saver.

TBMC’s Sourcing and Quotation system has numerous filters – such as for HMOs, limited companies, expats, age, tax status and portfolio size – which can help to quickly identify suitable providers.

However, we do not rely solely on the system when dealing with complex cases, and instead place a lot of value in maintaining relationships with the many supportive business development managers (BDMs) working in the buy-to-let sector.

BDMs can be an excellent resource and sounding board for checking whether a case is likely to be accepted by a lender, and it is good practice to make use of their knowledge.

Although sourcing buy-to-let mortgages can be challenging, it makes the work varied and interesting as no two cases are exactly the same. It certainly keeps us on our toes!