Who was first past the post in our latest lender ratings survey?

It’s been a long race to the finish line for lenders this quarter with six months elapsed since the last set of residential scores were in. So, which lenders beat the odds to finish strong and which pulled up lame?

The Panel

Walter Avrili, managing director, John Charcol

David Hollingworth, associate director of communications, London & Country

Matt Tilbury, senior mortgage and protection adviser, Just Mortgages

Greg Cunnington, associate director, Alexander Hall

Richard Merrett, managing director, Large Mortgage Loans

Aaron Strutt, product and communications manager, Trinity Financial

Bob Riach, mortgage broker, Riach Financial Advisers

David Sheppard, managing director, Perception Finance

Rob Clifford, group commercial director, SDL Group

Jonathan Clark, mortgage partner, Chadney Bulgin

Nationwide for Intermediaries

Nationwide has stormed through from eighth position to claim victory this quarter. London & Country associate director of communications David Hollingworth describes its service levels as “solid”. He praises its first-time buyer and remortgage propositions as well as its cash-back offering. Riach Financial advisers mortgage broker Bob Riach feels the lender offers: “An easy usable online system with a simple and efficient application process,” as well as “one of the best BDMs.”

Chadney Bulgin mortgage partner Jonathan Clark says despite not offering “stand-out” rates the lender “wins business with its generous affordability calculator and ability to lend to age 75.” Nationwide’s move to case management has given its service a boost, says Alexander Hall associate director Greg Cunnington. But he adds: “No interest-only option remains disappointing.”

Halifax Intermediaries

It may have been odds on favourite but Halifax was pipped at the post this quarter. Hollingworth feels its core range pricing is perhaps its weaker point. But says: “Its competitive range of semi exclusives plug any gaps, as does its performance on new build and higher LTVs for first-time buyers.”

Perception Finance managing director David Sheppard feels the lender “performs well for those with complex incomes.” He welcomes the relaxation of its rules surrounding family gifted deposits from overseas.

Trinity Financial product and communications manager Aaron Strutt likes how it is “so easy” to make amendments at the offer stage with the lender.

Large Mortgage Loans managing director Richard Merrett welcomes its increase to income multiples, “particularly for loans above £500,000”, he says.

Coventry for Intermediaries

Coventry remains a front runner. “With its mix of standard, offset and fixed rates with no early repayment charges, it offers a price point for most clients,” says Sheppard. While Hollingworth says: “It’s a lender that can offer something different such as ERC-free fixes and long-term 10 year deals with only a five-year tie.”

Clark however says: “Coventry offers a range of very competitive if rather staid products with only its penalty-free fixed rates marking it out from the competition.”

RBS (NatWest Intermediary Solutions)

NatWest has stumbled one place this quarter. Sheppard describes it is a “stable lender” but not as competitive as others. “I hope it will be more flexible with its criteria this year,” he says.

Clark says its new product transfer system combined with its generous affordability and competitive rates has resulted in a more “rounded intermediary proposition.” Merrett has praise for its large loan team. “Its can-do attitude helps immeasurably in the more complex lending space,” he says.

Just Mortgages senior mortgage and protection adviser Matt Tilbury describes it as a good all-round lender with a “consistent lending policy.”

Accord Mortgages

Accord has upped its standing two places. Tilbury calls it a superb lender with a “great individual underwriting policy and BDMs.”

Cunnington feels it is the “most improved lender of the last twelve months”; while Clark welcomes the recent introduction of its interest-only products.

Sheppard commends its offset mortgages. But adds: “It falls down when porting cases as it does not pay a good procuration fee.”

Trinity advisers like how they can talk directly to an underwriter, coupled with a BDM who “replies to emails on a Sunday,” says Strutt.

John Charcol managing director Walter Avrili says the lender offers: “Great BDM support alongside good service and products.”

Barclays 

Barclays has held station over the period. Clark feels its competitive products and improved online system are drawing in brokers that have “previously stayed away.” While Cunnington feels it offers a “strong new build proposition with its core loan to values and contract assignment policy.”

Merrett welcomes its enhanced criteria for premier clients, such as the potential to lend for 5.5 X income and “consideration of 100 per cent of bonus.”

Tilbury however feels it can be a “bit unhelpful” and describes its new system as still a “bit clunky.” Sheppard also feels its new website is “very temperamental” when trying to access criteria or the affordability calculator.

Santander for Intermediaries

Santander has dropped five places this time around. Clark welcome the introduction of a soft footprint at AIP stage but says: “constant tinkering with its affordability matrix means there is no guarantee a case will successfully progress.”

Tilbury feels it offers excellent BDM support, combined with good criteria and products but service levels have “slipped” of late.

Sheppard is still without a local BDM. “Lenders should never underestimate the importance of this,” he says.

Cunnington however welcomes Santander’s new income multiples and interest- only policy which he says “shows its commitment to the London market.”

Virgin Money

Virgin Money slipped four places in the pack. Clark was disappointed to see a tightening of its affordability calculation for limited company directors, which he saw as its “biggest USP.”

Sheppard feels the lender is becoming more risk averse and not as favourable towards the self-employed. He adds: “The recent increase to 85 years on any leasehold property is a backwards step.”

Avrili commends the lender for its: “Great service, products and BDM support.” While Tilbury describes it as a: “Quality small lender, making huge strides in service and products.”

HSBC

HSBC stumbled one place. Strutt says the lender has some of the best products in the market but adds “if you are being pushed to get an offer out, you’re probably better off applying elsewhere.”

Avrili feels the lender is “suffering admin issues.” Tilbury describes it as a “cautious lender” whose slow processing times can cancel out its good rates.

However, Hollingworth says: “Its ability to offer market leading rates is impressive – its five- year deals have particularly shone.”

TSB Bank

TSB Bank has failed to gain ground this time. Clark says; “It’s apparent from its rather lacklustre rates and delayed product transfer system that TSB is currently concentrating on its new IT system before hopefully, getting back on form.”

Hollingworth feels TSB have been “working hard to get things back on track.” SDL Group commercial director Rob Clifford praises its “10-year fixed rate products.”

Riach feels it was bad timing to coincide the launch of competitive rates with its new system. He says the poor service has been “very stressful for clients and TSB staff.”

Wild Card: Nottingham Building Society 

The panel have been impressed with Nottingham this quarter. Tilbury describes it as an “excellent small lender which offers good criteria and products.”

Riach’s last few applications have gone to offer very fast. “Its application system is easy to use, as is its document upload system,” he says. He also commends its market-leading fixed rates.

Hollingworth feels the lender has become more of a niche player of late but adds “it has shown some strength in the higher LTV market.”

As lenders continue to test out their online systems over the next six months, their digital offerings are set to form a key part in our next set of scores.

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