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Meet your Bristol Mortgage Broker

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Meet your Bristol Mortgage Broker

Kevin Spear introduces the Bristol-based company, and talks us through the services offered by a mortgage broker.

What is the role of a Mortgage Broker?

A Mortgage Broker’s role is quite simply to take the client through the journey of finding a house and getting their finances together to buy and move into that property.

There are obviously quite a few component parts in that. Our job is to find a lender who will have the appetite to approve you and offer competitive fees, rates and criteria. We’re whole-of-market Mortgage Brokers, so we have access to all of the lenders in the UK and all of their products.

There are so many different scenarios we come across with our clients, and we can always find a suitable outcome, completely independently. We offer a tailor-made service to each individual.

No two clients are the same – whether they’re First Time Buyers, self-employed, contract workers or people moving houses. Sometimes people get divorced, which involves properties being bought and sold and different individuals involved in those transactions.

What’s the difference between going to a mortgage broker like Mortgage Marketplace versus your local high street bank?

Ten years ago, you could walk down the high street, walk into a building society or bank and sit with a mortgage broker for immediate advice. These days, banks don’t offer that service so readily. You have a choice now as a consumer, either to engage with a broker or try and work your way through the internet yourself. But the vast majority benefit from engaging with a broker.

If you do go to a bank, you’ll have to wait for an appointment and, once you have one, you will only hear about that lender’s products. They’re not going to compare them against the rest of the market. Most people these days understand the benefit of going to a broker and having the pick of the bunch.

What services does a mortgage broker offer?

Because of the bespoke way we work, we find ourselves doing different things for different people. Say our client is looking to buy an investment property with a Buy to Let mortgage. That’s a very competitive space – a good investment property is going to be snapped up very quickly. We like to make sure that clients going into that space already have their funding secured.

In other words, we’re sending them to view a property with a mortgage certificate to say they’re good for a set amount of money. That way they can negotiate a good purchase price. As brokers we are putting our clients in the best position to secure a property.

The same scenario exists for First Time Buyers – who aren’t necessarily taken seriously by the estate agent or by the vendor until they have a mortgage certificate in their hands. That Agreement in Principle shows they’ve passed credit scoring and they’ve got their deposit ready.

Another thing that comes into play is that we often recommend solicitors for a client. Plus, we liaise with estate agents and vendors to make sure that people are kept up to date on progress or any delays.

Do your clients come back to you time after time?

Yes, I’ve been a mortgage broker for nearly 30 years now and for the vast majority of that time I’ve been based here in Bristol. It’s really gratifying to have a client come back to you at the end of a two-year period or the end of a five-year period because their mortgage needs renewing. And now, at my stage of career, I find myself actually doing mortgages for my clients’ children!

As a firm, Mortgage Marketplace has a reputation for excellent service levels and people are coming back to us for second properties or for re-mortgages and more. Because we have all their details on file, it becomes a very smooth interaction.

When should I see a mortgage broker, at what stage in the house buying process?

Where there’s a purchase concerned, I’d say as early as possible. If you’ve been browsing through Rightmove, for example, and are ready to book a viewing with an estate agent – that’s the time to get in touch with us.

You really want to be going into that viewing with your money secured – with a Decision in Principle from a lender. This is where we’ve approached the lender with your details, they have credit scored you and looked at your documentation and they’re basically saying that, subject to all of the paperwork being in order, they will lend to you.

It means that when you put an offer in, it will be taken seriously. At the moment, properties are often receiving more than one offer, or an offer above the asking price. It’s a competitive space and has been for about 18 months, plus it looks set to continue. So engage with us as early as possible.

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We can assist you with the whole mortgage process, from buying your first home, to remortgaging, moving home, equity release, buy to let, specialist mortgages and more.

You’re based in Bristol, but can you help somebody based elsewhere in the country?

Our reach is across the whole of the UK. We engage with clients mostly over the telephone and video calls. We also have a secure online portal with encryption at much the same level as your online banking. We can safely exchange documents here, such as ID, passports and payslips.

One of the few positives to come out of Covid is a boost to speed of service. If you look at our website you’ll see that the standard is to get you a Decision in Principle within four hours. Our record is about 43 minutes – if a client’s got all their paperwork already it can be very quick.

If you particularly want that investment property or that first house and there’s a keen estate agent wanting to close the deal, we’re there to get it done as quickly as possible.

Is there an extra benefit to working with you?

Buying a home can be quite daunting. There’s a wealth of information on our website about things like stamp duty and the process of buying a home. We also engage with a firm called Just Move In, who will help clients who are moving home to sort out things like utilities, broadband and all those sorts of things at a competitive price.

They work on your behalf to get the best broadband deal, the best gas and electricity deal etc. It’s a free service for clients. They are good to have on your side – I used them myself when I moved recently.

Why is Bristol a popular location to live in and buy property?

I’m a country bumpkin really and I’ve worked in Bristol for a good number of years now – 25 years plus. I finally came to live in Bristol about ten years ago.

One of the things about the city that keeps it vibrant and fresh is its two universities. We have 60,000 new students turn up every October, so you’ve got that constant, cultural inflow of people from all over the UK and the world.

Bristol has been voted one of the best cities to live in in Europe. It feels like lots of little villages bolted together to make a big city. It’s a fun place to live.

From a property perspective, it’s very vibrant too, especially in terms of investment property and Buy to Let. I’ve done an awful lot of Buy to Let funding for student and professional accommodation.

What also happens in Bristol is that a lot of students that come here end up staying and making their careers in the city. There are a lot of big firms based here in the South West. For me, coming from the country and now living in the city, it definitely feels like home.

Tell us about Mortgage Marketplace?

Mortgage Marketplace became an authorised firm in 2018. We put the company together because we felt as though the marketplace had become a bit stale. There was a bit of complacency in mortgages generally.

We had the credit crunch back in 2008 and a lot of mortgage brokers disappeared from the market altogether. They then slowly came back as lending conditions eased, from 2015 onwards. But that left some very standard operating models, with people that had been in the industry as brokers for many decades doing the same thing in the same way.

We saw an opportunity to do things differently. We invested significantly in making the client journey slicker and quicker. We brought in a lot of online access with our portal so that the client engages in the process as well. When we’re advising clients, they’re online with us, filling out the form in the comfort of their own home, or overnight so that we’re ready to go in the morning. It’s a very consultative process compared with how it was ten years ago, sitting in an office somewhere filling out loads of paperwork and waiting a week for an answer.

We like to support good causes too and in June this year I’m doing a circumnavigation of Cornwall by sea kayak. It’s 420 miles of solo kayaking to raise money for the Bristol Royal Infirmary hospital in the city. Its oncology and haematology unit there treats very successfully lots of patients with blood-borne cancers.

It’s a centre of expertise as a teaching hospital, attached to the University, and I’ve had some personal experience of their care with a member of my family. A member of the Mortgage Marketplace team has a partner who is also being treated there, so it’s close to our hearts.

Does it cost for an initial consultation with you?

No, it doesn’t. We are a fee-charging brokerage further down the line, but in terms of getting that initial advice and research, that is all done at our expense and on our time.

We don’t get into fees from lenders or valuation fees or fees for brokerage until you’ve got your Decision in Principle. The charging structure depends on the type of client you are. For example, First Time Buyers get a discount from us because we like to help them in that first transaction. Buy to Let is the other end of the scale as it is usually a bit more complex. All those details are on our website.

We give good value for money, because we’re quick and get things done in a succinct manner that’s clear and transparent. Plus, we get good deals. We can access products that aren’t available on the highstreet – and indeed aren’t available to all brokers.

I encourage prospective clients to take a look at what you get for your money with a broker. We’re confident and happy that we’re worth the money!

It’s always worth shopping around because the mortgage providers have plenty of money to lend at the moment, and products are very competitive, whether that be in the rate or with free valuations, cash back or zero arrangement fees.

The quickest way to shop around is to use a good, experienced broker with access to the whole of the market – you will get more than your money’s worth in the deal you get.

Your property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.