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The Mortgage Advice journey explained

A mortgage is, for most people, the largest debt they will ever have in their life and their mortgage advice journey requires careful consideration and planning before they enter into a legally binding contract with a mortgage lender. Which is why you can only take on a mortgage with advice from a professional, there is no ‘execution only’ option for the vast majority of people, you cannot arrange it yourself online.

A mortgage is a very special type of debt, the name itself we borrow from the French and its literal translation is “death pledge” – meaning it must always be repaid, even if you die, someone must repay this for you. It is also a secured debt, meaning that the lender can take legal possession of an asset that is connected to it if you do not meet the repayments, then sell it to clear the money owed.

So as a Mortgage Adviser how does the process of helping someone arrange a mortgage actually work?

If you come across any terms you don’t understand, check out our glossary here.

Initial Contact

Whatever means a potential new client uses to reach out to you, it is likely that an informal conversation is the first practical step in the process. This allows you to answer the clients’ initial questions about mortgages, the house buying process and you and your firm. It allows you as the adviser to get some initial details from the prospect on what they are hoping to achieve and to check this seem feasible – unfortunately it’s as much part of the role to let people know when that are trying to do something they cannot do, as well as helping them do the things they can.

First Meeting: The Fact Find

At this first formal meeting, be it face-to-face, online, or over the phone, you will start with a disclosure of your status and talking your new potential clients’ through a copy of your Proposition Guide, which you will give them a copy of to keep. This tells them what advice you can and cannot give, the level of service you provide, how you are paid, how you are regulated and how to make complaints. Then it’s a bit of a grilling! You will need to ask the clients lots of questions to get yourself to a point where you have all the hard facts that a lender will want to know in order to accept an application from you, but also all the soft facts that then allow you to tailor your advice to the clients specific needs, aims and plans.

Research

Following your first meeting you will then use the information you gathered to research the possible mortgage options available. This will involve various software systems, visiting lenders websites and speaking directly to your lender contacts; all with the aim of finding the most appropriate mortgage at the lowest overall cost to meet your clients’ individual aims and needs. At the same time as researching the various mortgage options it would also be normal to research insurance options for the client too, such as home insurance, life insurance, critical illness cover, and income protection.

It is understandable why the client would need home insurance, but why are life and other types of ‘protection’ insurance so important when taking out a mortgage? Mortgages become repayable on death, and failing to keep up with the mortgage repayments will ultimately lead to repossession. This means the death, serious illness or injury of a key earner in the household can leave their loved ones in severe financial distress – or even facing the loss of their home.

So, the goal of protection insurance is to provide a financial safety net if the worst were to happen. This isn’t always necessary for new mortgage borrowers, but it is an important aspect of the advice process to cover off.

Second Meeting: The Presentation

Once you have completed your research and are confident that you have sourced the best mortgage available to you for your clients’ needs, then it’s time to arrange your second meeting to present them with your findings and final recommendation. At this meeting you will talk your client through the mortgage you are recommending to them by presenting them with a European Standard Information Sheet (ESIS), more commonly referred to as an illustration. This confirms all of the headline details of the proposed mortgage; lender, rate, term, type of repayment, type of interest rate, monthly payments, fees, etc.

Part of this work may be carried out by back-office staff called paraplanners, who conduct research and write reports for mortgage and other financial advisers. Often advisers will also have the support of financial administrators to prepare, process and chase up the relevant paperwork, and ensure everything is logged on the system correctly.

Making the Application

Hopefully your clients have accepted your recommendation and asked you to make the application on their behalf to the chosen lender. Initially this will be a Decision or Approval in Principle (often referred to as a DIP or AIP) which is when a lender does a credit search and checks that your applicants meet the basic criteria (rules the lender has for who they will and won’t lend to).

If that is passed then you can continue to complete the full mortgage application to the lender. Once the application is submitted most lenders will present you with a list of supporting documents they want you to send to them, such as; payslips, ID and bank statements.

Now that the application has been made to the lender the brokers job is maintaining momentum for the application; keeping in touch with the lender and the client to make sure the former has everything they require and the latter is kept up to date with what is happening with their mortgage. Again, requesting and chasing this information may involve the help of financial administrators and paraplanners, whose role it is to support the mortgage adviser throughout the process.

The lender will request a surveyor to conduct a valuation of the property and once this is done, and assuming it is all OK, then the underwriter can issue the Mortgage Offer after they conclude all their own checks.

Over to the Conveyancer

The legal process of placing a mortgage on a property and/or changing ownership of a property is called conveyancing; this can be done by a solicitor or a licenced conveyancer.

Whilst this part of the process doesn’t require any input from the Mortgage Adviser, it is often a good idea to keep open lines of communication with the conveyancer – you may have documents on file that they also need (such as ID), or they may need you help in dealing with the lender in some situations.

When the conveyancer completes all of their checks then a date of exchange (if a property purchase) can be agreed, followed by a completion date. The completion date is when the new mortgage you have arranged is officially started and your client becomes a customer of the chosen lender.

Completion and Beyond…

It’s true that this advice and recommendation is now competed and done, but your relationship with the client should be ongoing. Many advisers will have a diary system in place, so that as the client approaches the end of the initial rate period, they can be contacted to arrange a review.

At that review the adviser can look to see if the client is best to;

  • select a new deal with the current lender (a Product Transfer, or Product Switch), or
  • move the mortgage to a completely different lender (a Re-mortgage).

It is also the time to check if the clients’ situation has changed and so make any changes to the mortgage at this time; for example the clients could have had a promotion and pay rise, so is able to afford higher repayments allowing the term to be reduced, so they pay off the mortgage quicker.