Around 140,000 people with mortgages are currently classed as ‘mortgage prisoners’. This means that they could be with a lender who is no longer active, or a lender who has ‘bought’ a number of clients from other lenders but who does not offer additional mortgage products once the customers current incentive rate period comes to an end. So, effectively, the client will sit with the lender on their standard variable rate, normally a lot higher than incentive rates, and because of various reasons, they may not be able to move to another lender. This could be due to their loan to value (amount borrowed against the value of the property), or maybe that particular lender at the time had attractive, exclusive income multiple calculations, which are no longer offered or new and stricter criteria no longer enables them to change lender.
Many of the mortgage industry have campaigned for some time to try and assist these customers. It seems the regulator has taken note and issued a consultation paper. I stress, this is only at consultation stage, but it shows that this is now a concern and the regulator is seeking a way forward. One part of the consultation entails a ‘relative’ test, rather than ‘absolute’ test. This would check to see if the new mortgage costs would be cheaper than the current costs. As such, the client may be able to transfer to another lender with minimal checks, underwriting and fees (normally this would be classed as a product transfer if the client was staying with the same lender and changing to a better deal). This also assumes the new lender has made a commercial decision to see if this works for them in taking on these customers.
I can only see this truly working if all lenders in the market are ‘encouraged’ by the regulator to make this work. Not all customers will be able to be assisted but it is a step in the right direction and that can only be good news for those who are currently paying way over what they should be.
Finally, we’re looking for staff to join our fantastic team in Horsham. Ideally, we’re looking for mortgage brokers who have been in the market for at least a year and have a proven track record in customer service and recommending mortgage and protection products. If this is of interest, or you know someone who is looking, please get in touch.