Star letter: Credit bureau data must be up to date
A big, and unnecessary, problem continues to lurk within the mortgage industry, which causes intermediaries and borrowers untold hassle. It is the first hurdle that most borrowers need to clear but often many fall unwittingly at this barrier. The problem: incorrect or outdated credit bureau information.
In a market where mortgages are often rejected out of hand because of a late mobile phone payment from two years ago or an unpaid £10 credit card bill from three years ago, it is important that those with a squeaky-clean credit profile have that reflected in their report viewed by lenders at the time of application.
But misinformation, or an error often unknown to the borrower, is viewed as sacrilege by lenders. In many cases, credit information is not transparent, correct or up to date. Take Santander: its information updates from credit bureaux can be up to 60 days old. Sometimes, corrected information can take up to three months to appear.
There is also the age-old issue of intransigence by lenders when it comes to historical ‘poor’ credit. To an intermediary, this problem can usually be covered by knowledge of the market, but it is peculiar that a computer still has the ‘authority’ to reject a perfectly affordable 50 per cent LTV mortgage because of one missed credit card payment five years ago. Much good business is commonly missed by lenders with archaic policies, systems and processes.
Why then, in this age of immediate transactions and digital data exchange, can’t credit bureau information be bang up to date and conveyed accordingly to lenders in real time? It seems that both bureaux and lenders blame each other but surely this is about the customer getting a fair deal and not a time for criticism or fault finding.
Credit bureau references are the de facto starting point in mortgages these days and that is entirely appropriate. But the industry owes it to the public to work with up-to-date and accurate information in order to provide the desired professional service.
Nick Walker, FOCUS
Govt must fix the planning problem
I totally agree with Dame Kate Barker that until the Government sorts out the problem with planning, it will never deliver on a promise of 200,000 new homes a year, regardless of who is running the country.
Every time a planning application is submitted for approval, whether it be for a single dwelling or a 150-home development, it is opposed every inch of the way by Nimbys and by parish and local councils. Until somebody sorts these people out, we will continue to fall a long way short of our housing needs.
New infrastructure is the top priority
I do not think the housing shortage can be put down to Nimbyism. In the South-east, the A27 has been woefully under capacity on all stretches except at Brighton for as long as anyone can remember.
While the Government wants extra homes in the area, and so do local businesses, the issues related to moving people around (as well as other infrastructure such as school capacity) are not being resolved.
The Greater Brighton area could accommodate many more people and their businesses, as long as it had the infrastructure to support those extra people. The Government needs to build railway lines and roads – then the negative response to development from planning committees will fall away.
It’s about the ability to pay, not one’s age
I read in Mortgage Strategy that the Conservatives will appoint Ros Altmann as minister for financial consumer protection and education if they win the general election.
Part of Altmann’s remit would be to strive to stop lenders unfairly discriminating against older borrowers.
Not before time. A mortgage should be about ability to pay, not age. We would all prefer not to have a mortgage in our pension years but the reality can be different.
We have enacted legislation to ensure workers are not put on the scrap heap at the state retirement age. So why is it acceptable to discriminate against someone aged over 75 if appropriate advice has been given and the client understands the consequences of having the mortgage?
A pensioner with a guaranteed pension is a better bet than an employee with a monthly payslip that may be taken away tomorrow.
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