How challenging is affordability for borrowers?

Poor credit profiles and blips impact customers

How challenging is affordability for borrowers?

More customers are failing to meet lenders’ criteria, with affordability one of the biggest challenges facing them, it’s claimed.

This predicament provides an opportunity for brokers to offer support and expand their businesses, according to Louise Apollonio (pictured), head of corporate accounts at The Mortgage Lender (TML).

TML is a Glasgow-based, independent specialist lender with a residential and buy-to-let (BTL) mortgage offering.

“Affordability continues to be a challenge,” said Apollonio. “More customers are falling outside of mainstream lenders’ policies due to poor credit profiles and blips, meaning they are automatically restricted in dealing with more traditional lenders.

“This presents an opportunity for brokers to support these customers in what is currently a challenging market and help them find solutions with intermediary only lenders. It also creates opportunities for brokers to expand their business in what looks to be another flat year in terms of lending.”

She told Mortgage Introducer: “It’s important that brokers understand how specialist lenders can help in this area. Looking at how we can help maximise income is key to achieving the desired loans and property ambitions customers seek.

“We need to continue to educate brokers on the solutions that we can offer for customers that may have credit blips, variable income or are self-employed, as these areas form part of our core business. Greater awareness of the lenders that offer such products will ensure brokers can guide their clients.”

How key is the mortgage lender and broker relationship?

Apollonio believes the lender-broker relationship is vital to success, particularly in the specialist space.

“TML works across a number of regions and in each area we have dedicated field-based and telephone-based BDMs (business development managers) to work with our broker partners,” she elaborated. “Once the case is in application, the broker can discuss the case directly with one of our underwriters which is very important to getting the case through smoothly and delivering a good customer outcome.

“Getting to know specialist BDMs means they can help with much more than just criteria questions and discuss a case in detail, to produce the best result for the end customer.”

She continued: “TML is a real life specialist lender, meaning we take a ‘real life’ approach when it comes to lending and assessing customers’ individual needs.”

TML is known for its proposition for self-employed individuals, those with adverse credit and complex BTL.

“We work closely in partnership with intermediaries to support customers,” Apollonio said, “wherever they are in their home or property ownership journey.

“We do this by operating differently to other lenders, with a unique approach to affordability, which is one of the biggest challenges still faced by customers. Tech developments can help improve the whole mortgage journey for customers, brokers, and lenders alike, from advice all the way through to completion.

“We continue to invest in technology to help enhance automation, while also retaining the human touch. Our people ultimately make the business though, and we are dedicated to supporting and building our relationships with brokers and distribution partners in the market.”

Read more: The Mortgage Lender CEO steps down

Why change is important

TML has recently restructured its sales team.

“We’ve recognised the changing needs of customers for the more complex, real-life scenarios within the property lending market, and we strive to give our brokers and their clients the best possible support,” Apollonio noted, “and provide an enhanced relationship experience as an intermediary only lender.

“I think it’s important to embrace change. We are naturally creatures of habit, and it is always tempting to stick with what you know and lenders you have used before. There are so many great lenders that can help you find solutions for your customers, whether it’s affordability, credit impairment, or a complex BTL case.”

Apollonio has been in the market for over 20 years - the majority of that time within the specialist space – and started her career with a mortgage packager before moving into lending. She’s been working for TML for five years.

“I have a real passion for this part of the market,” she shared, “helping to find solutions for customers that may have been told ‘no’ elsewhere.”