The purpose of this article is to explain the benefits of seeking independent mortgage advice when looking to either purchase or remortgage a property. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) have set out a number of key words which represent the numerous types of advice an individual can seek. This article will try to explain these, however our focus is on the most important and customer beneficial of these ‘Independent Mortgage Advice from the whole of Market’.
Types of mortgage advice
So what are the different types of mortgage advice and where would you expect to find them?
This type of mortgage broker offers the least consumer protection, they will simply ask a set of questions to narrow the customers requirements and thus filtering the number of mortgages available. They then present the customer with a small list of possible mortgages for the consumer to choose one appropriate. The consumer protection here is based on the script of questions the broker asks. The script is a process determined prior to the consumer appointment, and is impersonal. Therefore specific personal circumstances are unlikely to be assessed. It also assumes that the customers answers are factually correct and the final choice is made solely by the consumer. Although no advice is offered these brokers do handle the arranging of the mortgage on the consumers behalf, and therefore dealing with all the chasing and removing stress from the process.
Where would you expect non-advised brokers to exist?
Well believe it or not many non-advised brokers are within the high street banks and building societies.
This type of services is where a mortgage adviser uses their knowledge and skills to provide the most suitable mortgage to suit a consumers personal circumstances. This will involve a full fact finding interview, affordability assessment, discussion on the consumers future plans and aspirations, all of which provide key facts on a consumers requirements, and therefore a means for the adviser to identify suitable products. The adviser will not however, handle the arranging of the mortgage, and therefore the consumer would need to deal directly with the bank or buildings society to arrange the mortgage.
Where would you expect advice-only advisers to exist?
These advisers generally do not exist alone this is often a service provided through the ‘Independent Mortgage Adviser’ type below. And often comes about when the most suitable mortgage is only offered direct through high street (i.e. not through mortgage advisers/brokers). The adviser would therefore offer an advice-only option to the client and often charge a fee for this service. Although the client must deal directly with the bank or building society their mortgage adviser often provides support to the consumer.
Tied mortgage advisers
Tied mortgage advisers come in two forms ‘only offering mortgages from one lender or its own mortgages’ or multi-tied ‘only offer mortgages from a limited number of lenders’. This clearly limits the number of mortgage products available to match a consumers personal circumstances and in a lot of cases they may not be able to offer the most suitable mortgage product and therefore advice may result in the best mortgage they can offer, being woefully inadequate.
Where would you expect tied mortgage advisers?
High street branches. A consumer calls into their local building society branch and their in house mortgage adviser can only offer mortgage products from that building society. Consumer choice and mortgage product suitability are considerably reduced. Whats more, high street branches often offer low mortgage rates/fees as a loss leader (marketing term to bring in business) and then try to sell their tied insurance products which are often also woefully inadequate and expensive.
Whole of market advisers
By far the best coverage these advisers can offer mortgages from all the UK mortgage lenders (having mortgage adviser/broker routes). The vast amount of mortgages available through these advisers is likely to cover the individual circumstances of a consumer. Whole of market mortgage advisers offer advice through conducting a full fact finding interview, affordability assessment, discussion on the consumers future plans and aspirations and then can arrange the mortgage through the lender thus aleviating the stress which comes when purchasing a house.
Where would you expect whole of market advisers?
These advisers are usually separate firms often found in the yellow pages or through the internet they are sometimes linked to estate agents. On an initial meeting mortgage advisers should declare if they are whole of market and this will be disclosed in the ‘Initial Disclosure Document’ they provide you. If you are not sure if an adviser is whole of market then ask them.Independent whole of market mortgage adviser
Finally this type of adviser has the ultimate scope of the mortgage market, not only can they offer mortgage advice from the whole of market (lenders with mortgage adviser routes) but can also offer an advice only process if they identify a high street direct deal is more suitable. The ‘Independent’ statement indicates that the adviser must offer the consumer a fee based service if required. This means that rather than the adviser taking commission as payment for the mortgage advice, the consumer can opt for paying a broker fee and any commission is rebated to the consumer. The benefit of the fee based service is the consumer knows the adviser will not be swayed by higher commission mortgage products when selecting a suitable mortgage, however these days this is highly unlikely as the mortgage adviser must prove to the regulator why a particular mortgage is most suitable. Some occasions where the commission is quite considerable this would mean the consumer could receive more money than the broker fee paid and therefore would be better off taking the fee based approach.
Where would you expect to find Independent Whole of Market Advisers?
Like the author of this document Independent Mortgage Advisers are usually separate firms often found on the high street, yellow pages or through the internet and they are sometimes linked to estate agents. On an initial meeting an independent mortgage adviser would declare that they are whole of market and that they offer a fee based approach if required and this will be disclosed in the ‘Initial Disclosure Document’ they provide you. If you are not sure if an adviser is independent and/or whole of market then ask them.What do independent whole of market mortgage advisers do for consumers?
The benefits of opting for an independent whole of market mortgage adviser include but are not limited to the following:
- Treat customers fairly.
- Take time to gain key factual details of the consumers personal circumstances and aspirations.
- Support and inform the consumer from initial enquiry right through to completion and beyond.
- Provide an informed view on the housing market in general (price negotiation, leasehold issues etc).
- Provide a individually tailored service specific to the customers needs, not a faceless “one size suits all” (non-advised) service.
- Advise consumers to thing about their long-term intersts as well as the short-medium term thus minimising risks.
- Work for the consumer – estate agents, lenders and insurance providers have a different agenda.
- Explain the features and benefits of different mortgage and protection options.
- Free to act based on conscience and fairness as not usually directly targeted on specific areas.
- Protect consumers data and privacy.
- Provide general support during what is acknowledged to be one of the most stressful events in life.
- Provide a knowledgeable “Ally” in what can be a very worrying process.
- Provide proficient, impartial, examination of mortgage products.
- Identify when specific lending criteria restricts consumers personal circumstances.
- Expert guidance in complex scenarios (shared ownership/shared equity, right-to-buy, adverse credit).
- Identify the potential lender in unusual situations, thus avoiding the need for multiple credit checks.
- Select the best protection providers for consumers with health issues or unusual insurance histories.
- Choose the most appropriate products, from the whole of market for each aspect of a consumers mortgage and protection needs, and thus increasing their ability to afford their commitments, even when things go wrong.
- Highlight unusual exclusions on protection and general insurance products.
- Ensure the provision of appropriate and customized protection products.
- Quickly find an alternative lender if declined without wasting the consumers time.
- Can arrange property insurance in ample time to be ready for exchange of contracts on purchases.
- Encourage competition and innovation from lenders.
- Assist in calculating affordability, ensuring that consumers can afford their mortgage and protection commitments, along with their other commitments.
- Perform data input/entry for the consumer, reducing errors, omissions and most importantly non-disclosure.
- Take responsibility for the advice and recommendation provided, thus increasing consumer protection.
- Protect the consumer from corporate sales tactics used by some lenders and estate agency chains.
- Understanding the urgency of some transactions and “go the extra mile” to meet deadlines.
- Collate, verify and suuply documentation for the lender, thus reducing delays in processing and expedite the process for the consumer.
- Liaise with third parties in the transaction, tracking progresss and any developments updating consumers throughout.
- Use past knowledge and awareness to predict problems and resolve them in advance.
- Act as advocate for the consumer during the application process.
- Explain the mortgage offer and assist in fulfilling the offer conditions.
- Can find appropriate lenders and insurers for unusual properties ( thatched roof, flying freehold flats etc).
- Protect consumers from aggressive third-party marketing.
- Often personally available outside of normal working hours to answer questions or resolve issues.
- Care about consumers and provide an ongoing long-term service, often several generations of the same family.