Ignore A&L warnings at your peril

I ignored the siren warnings and hit the rocks of Alliance & Leicester\'s specialist lending unit, and I\'d like to know if you\'ve had a similar experience, says Sue Read

It was half term last week. I had two days off and found myself in a quandary. I’ve racked my brains for some positive news to bring you but as my three days in the office were especially fraught, I fear I’m going to be my usual Meldrewian self.

If you’re lucky, something upbeat will come to me. In the meantime, having lately succeeded in finding a human side to the mighty Halifax, last week I hit the siren-protected rocks of Alliance & Leicester’s specialist lending unit. My colleague James had recently sent it a buy-to-let case and was having considerable difficulty getting this through. I smugly showed him a letter in Mortgage Strategy from a broker having similar problems.

In spite of the warning signs – which I ignored because my client needed the maximum possible loan based on his estimated rental income – I too was seduced into sending it a buy-to-let application. The other brokers’ cases were probably complicated whereas mine was relatively straightforward – or so I thought. My ears were deaf to the siren wails of those who’d dashed themselves on these rocks before.

My case was urgent, and at first things seemed to go swimmingly. I smiled inwardly when comparing notes with James. Pride comes before a fall, they say.

Anyway, we were soon told that the valuation was in and the case was ready to go to offer but that A&L needed proof of residency for one applicant. I should tell you that one of the other reasons I recommended A&L was that these clients hold their main residential mortgage with it. I had naively thought that this would speed up the underwriting a tad.

After heated exchanges which ended in me being uncharacteristically lost for words, I conceded defeat. Because Southern Pacific Mortgage Limited is also involved in A&L’s buy-to-let business it seems that A&L could not confirm that the client lives where she says she lives.

But I was told if the clients requested a mortgage statement, paid for it, received it through the post, brought it in to me, I copied it, certified it and sent it back to A&L, that would do.

To cap it all I was then told that proof of this residency would be required on both a present and a 12-months’ ago basis. In spite of vociferous objections that in my experience this was highly unusual, I caved.

In the end we supplied bank statements. We faxed them on Monday and posted them, only to be told on Wednesday that A&L wouldn’t work from faxes. I got a concession on that by asking it to underwrite and hold offer papers pending receipt of our original copies.

Fantastic? No. Nobody had read the valuation report. The valuer’s rental income was lower than anticipated. We’d been told a week before that it was ready to offer. So now our clients have to find extra thousands and pay interest as they will miss the completion deadline. I know they are partly to blame for leaving their application so late but the only positive thing I can say is that the offer is on its way.

Have you had a similar experience with A&L? I’d like to know.