I had an amusing night out with Barratt Homes head of mortgage lender relations Adrian MacDiarmid last week. We were joined by Roger Morris and Kevin Beale from the Precise home team.
On arrival at upmarket fish restaurant J Sheekey, I headed to the bar to meet the guys. They were all suited and booted except for Kevin, who was dressed in casual gear.
I thought it was a bit odd but Kevin quickly explained he had picked up the wrong bag that morning. The weirdest thing was that he was dressed in the infamous ‘double denim’. I am not easily distracted but I found my mind wandering throughout dinner. The last time I had seen a dude wearing double denim, it was Shakin’ Stevens…
Anyway, back to the point. The reason we were at dinner with Adrian was to discuss the launch of our new-build proposition, which we have been working on for some time. The new-build market is in good health at the moment and, despite it being unlikely to achieve 200,000 new units this year, it is on an upward trend.
However, it is dominated by the likes of Halifax, Nationwide and Santander. As such, it lacks a lender that deals with borrowers in need of a specialist player’s touch. This is where we think we can make a difference. We are making several changes to our lending policy, as well as introducing a priority processing service for new-build mortgage applications. Based on the feedback we are getting from housebuilders and some of our key contacts in the broker market, we hope to be on to a winner.
Now that we are a bank and our savings balances have been such a success, we are in a position to fund a decent chunk of new-build business and help the housing market with its recovery. We intend to launch at the end of this month so we will issue a more specific update at that time.
We know we will have to work hard to educate brokers and potential borrowers that many who are not catered for by the high-street lenders now have another option. Those who are self-employed or have a less-than-perfect credit profile will be catered for. As Adrian pointed out, one of the most attractive things about our approach is that it will improve efficiency for brokers and housebuilders as cases that previously could not be placed now can be.
Towards the end of dinner, my mind started to wander again and I found myself Googling ‘double denim’. My search brought up a bunch of celebs decked out in it, from Britney Spears, Usher and Kanye West to The Nolan Sisters, Chuck Norris and Bewitched.
Adrian and I then pondered on Kevin’s explanation that he had picked up the wrong bag. Why would anyone have a bag packed with denim in the first place? Unfortunately, that took us down a whole new avenue based on line dancing and the song This Ole House…